One small way I think this could happen is by bringing Accordanceís user interface (UI) up to modern standards. Currently, it has the look and feel of a System 9 app. Besides, we all know that one of the largest values of Apple customers is aesthetics. And as Christians, we should be like our Lord who is constantly creating objects of divine beauty, right? When I load up Accordance now, I see duplicate buttons, inconstant menu styles, and wasted toolbar space.
As someone who never used OS 9, I donít feel the interface is inconsistent with OS X at all. It fits right in with my workflow. I think one of the keys is understanding the thought-process behind the interface layout. If youíve never been to a training seminar, Iíd recommend it. The entire interface is covered, and I have seen that people come to appreciate the interface much more after listening to that session on design. Iím not saying there is no room for improvement. On every product this side of Christís coming there will always be room for improvement. However, usually this criticism fails to appreciate the design principles behind the interface.
Accordance is very much like photo software. Both require a lot of screen real estate. Every pixel matters. Also, both Accordance and photo applications contain many, many tools; Accordance tools for loading modules, and photos tools for editing. Some great photo applications whose UI I admire are Aperture and Pixelmator. Yet at the same time, Accordance is like database software, such as iTunes, Mail, and iCal. These database applications have powerful search abilities and are able to display results quickly with options to narrow results even further. They also must display massive amounts of text and information. I just want to challenge the Accordance staff to take some queues from some leading photo and database applications to make Accordance look a bit more--dare I say--sexy. Here are a few of my suggestions based on what I see in Aperture, iPhoto, Pixelmator, Mail, iTunes, and iCal:
Iím not sure I see the similarities between photo software and Accordance (except the PhotoGuide!). I definitely see the similarities with database software.
Use HUDs instead of Palettes
Both have the same function, but one is way more beautiful than the other. HUDs are used in many Apple applications, and Pixelmator does a wonderful job implementing them as well.
I could see the highlight pallet being a HUD, but Iím not sure about the other ones. The reason I say that is because the HUD is meant more for a quick resource that you display and then close. Other pallets would need a more creative solution. The text pallet, for example, could become fixed to the top part of User Edit windows, kind of like the thin edit bar in Pages 08. The user could choose to hide/show it with that pill thing in the upper right hand corner of the edit window. I canít see a time other than when editing user notes/tools when you need the text pallet, so maybe making it part of the window makes sense. The character pallet is tricky. I canít see it looking good as a HUD. The Resource Pallet wouldnít work as a HUD either, and neither would the instant details box. One improvement, though, to the instant details box could be rounding the corners a bit to fit in more with the look of Leopard. Not a big deal, but a possible aesthetic enhancement. I like the instant details as a floating pallet, though, and would not want it attached to any windows.
Use a Toolbar instead of the Resource Pallet
I love Apertureís toolbar because it gives me quick access to bringing up HUDs, exporting my photos, and viewing options. However, I can also hide is by clicking that little rice-looking button in the upper right corner of the window. For Accordance, I think this would be a nice, next location for the Resource Pallet.
You can simulate this now by showing the resource pallet horizontally and placing it at the top of your screen. Thatís how I have Accordance set up on my iBook and iMac. I like it that way. Putting it as part of the workspace/window doesnít make a lot of sense to me because then, if you had more than one workspace/window open, you might have multiple resource pallets (as it were) open at the same time taking up tons of screen space in each workspace. The Resource Pallet is sort of similar to the Inspector in other OS X apps. I think having it as a floating pallet just makes sense. And you can hide it if you want to.
Better Search Experience
Have you ever lost an email in Mail and done a search for it? You click in the search bar, type in the author of the email, and boom: your mailbox gets replaced with your search results along with a few options to narrow the search down. A similar thing happens in iPhoto, Aperture, and iTunes. I currently like Accordanceís search, but I think thereís a lot of room for it to look better.
While there is room for improvement, I donít think instant search while typing is it. Many searches in Accordance are rather complex, and it just makes more sense to set up the entire search before Accordance tries to run it. Otherwise, you have tons of system resources being used up running partial searches. Perhaps what youíre looking for is a second type of search box/window like Spotlight to search for a single word or verse. While that might be more ďsexyĒ I donít think itís that functionally helpful. I can wait until I finish typing a word and hitting enter to see my results. In almost every case, I think I would prefer that in Accordance.
Use an iTunes-like Source Menu
Now, this would be super controversial, I know. But what if Accordance had a Source Menu like iTunes, iPhoto, and Mail? (The Source Menu is the list of Playlists at the left side of your iTunes window.) Just as iTunes has the Source Menu split into sections (Library, Shared, Devices, Playlists, etc.), Accordance could use one to quickly switch from workspaces, modules, notes, and texts. You could even implement Custom Folders ,Smart Folders, and Custom Searches.
While this definitely follows the (also controversial) trend at Apple to make everything look like iTunes, I donít see the benefit in Accordance. The only possible way this could work, I think, is if it replaced the resource pallet. But then, because of the ability to have multiple windows/workspaces, I donít think itís the way to go for the same reason I donít think making the resource pallet a toolbar is effective. You can always use the Arrange Modules window for this sort of thing if you want. You can launch modules from there, and it has the source list feel to it.
Create Safari-like tabs
Accordanceís take on workspace tabs is just plane ugly. Please make it look like Safariís tabs. Aperture makes good use of tabs as well.
I think the aesthetics here could use improvement. Not sure what that would look like (Safari tabs are OK for Safari, not sure about Accordance), but I agree that the tabs could look better.
Both Pixelmator and Aperture have a Full Screen mode. You click on a button, and the program darkens the background, pushes back the menu bar, and fills every pixel with your photo. Iíd love it is Accordance had a similar feature. Fill my screen with the app so I can see as much text as possible!
Slideshow mode does this in Accordance. One improvement to slideshow mode would be to have the navigation pallet auto-hide or become part of the window somehow.
Anyway, these are just a few quick suggestions, and Iím sure you guys have thought about most of them before. I just want to challenge you to seriously think about revamping the Accordance UI. I know ďchangeĒ is a bad word to a lot of people, but fear of it has left Accordance sitting in the UI guidelines of System 9... which is hardly familiar to the current Mac user.
While I donít think change is bad, I do think change for the sake of change is bad. I think thatís what we saw between XP and Vista. UI was changed just to look flashy. People hate it. Leopard, on the other hand, had mostly subtle refinements to the UI (the menu bar and dock are two exceptions). People love it. I think Accordance would want to follow the Leopard path. Bring the look of some long-standing UI elements up to date, but keep the overall look the same. Maybe take a couple items and make them more flashy without changing their key functionality (like the highlight pallet becoming a HUD). However, at the end of the day, Iíd rather have them spend most of their time implementing new features and creating new modules than making changes to an already solid and well-designed interface. Thatís just my thoughts, though, and I know that others might have different preferences and perceptions of the interface.