Accordance is **obviously fantastic** Bible study software with a similar focus on the text as BibleWorks so my post is not a criticism but more feeling out what I am probably getting myself into. I want to be diplomatic but as time is short:
- What “Negative” surprises will BibleWorks users encounter moving to Accordance?
- What core version (base BW10) content (excluding translations) is absent? Missing add-on modules?
- What tools do you miss?
- What Accordance 12 tools and content found in the cross/upgrade packages will be pleasant surprises that I never knew I needed but will never want to give up?
As I test drive Accordance Light many features are “hidden” and it has limited content to compare so I am sure some comments are due to my lack of familiarity and with time I would answer my own question. I am prepared to discover there are resources and tools I assume are under the hood only to realize later, “I miss that in BibleWorks!”—I am ALSO prepared to discover new tools I wonder how I ever lived without, so this isn’t a stealth criticism thread. For me it is between Accordance or sticking with BibleWorks and want to make an informed decision (I am leaning toward Accordance as I want a live platform, the additions in v.12 showed a real commitment to text focused workflow and composition, and the cross and upgrade packages are reasonable and if they disappear in 2 or 3 years I frankly cannot afford normal Accordance prices.)
First, **for fellow BW users** Here are some things I discovered.
- The HALOT cross grade is $50 (thank you Accordance!! https://www.accordancebible.com/Crossgrades)
- The publisher of BDAG has not extended any offers to migrate our licenses at discount (Accordance, thanks for asking!)
- The Cross Grade packages aren’t disappearing on June 15th (like our BW upgrade offer does) so if you are test driving your options Accordance has graciously given us a little more time.
- Oaktree staff have promptly answered all my questions and had good explanations.
- Cross Grade and Upgrade are about $300 to $340 total (depending if you are coming from version 8/9 or 10). Upgrades to BW10 are ending tomorrow but I would say the cross grade pricing is reasonable (I have been spoiled by BW’s pricing strategy as it fit my needs and budget but Oaktree seems to have broken from their model understanding pricing value with core text tools and resources are really important to BW users).
I want to be positive, so for my fellow BibleWorks users here are some of the positives I have discovered after a handful of hours of using the Light version and watching their videos.
1: Formatted Texts. Version mark up so there are paragraph breaks and basic poetic indentation is a huge aid to reading.
2: Text Layout of Search Results. BibleWorks always had the verse reference offset in an invisible column. This created a lot of wasted space if you had the entire verse showing as the column was dead whitespace. The results were also hard to read at times (alternating background color would have helped) and as we could no longer stack (without new windows) under the Search pane to give it more breathing space.
(Comment: Accordance results run together like BW; some light alternating shading (e.g. very light gray) would break up the results. A soft dotted line would work to.)
(Question: I assume Accordance does this but Light is limited. But is it quick and easy to get search results for wildcards? E.g. If I search test* I should get test, testing, tested, testimony, etc. in return. Being able to both look at ALL the results OR narrow to one of the results. I also want a quick spit out, “Test 10x, Testing 5x, Tested 1x, Testimony 111x. Where this REALLY counts to me is in the Hebrew where I want to know the stem break down and such or be able to compare homonym frequency.)
3: Quick Multiverse Scaling for Search Results. The search results can be displayed with multiple verses per hit result and how many verses you want to see is really quick to adjust.
(Question: Light lacks access to the Concordance window; does it allow you to click results in Concordance and have the main text immediately jump there? Can we “check box” results to export?)
4: Note taking quick access. This is super quick in Accordance as you can hover to the right of the verse and a Pencil pops up. Just click and you can take/edit notes. This is super slick because the Accordance notes are auto verse tagged but also a rolling document (like a dynamic endnote). BW has a fantastic RTF editor but I often found I had one of the “other tabs” active so there was always a little hunt.
5: Cross References. I disliked how BibleWorks handled cross references so much so I often found myself using the online BlueLetterBible (!) because the reading format was superior. While I have not seen this feature in full action what I have seen in Light and in videos looks more friendly.
In general presentation in Accordance is more “smooth and readable” which may seem superficial but when spending hours upon hours in front of a screen easy on the eyes is a plus.
6: Workspaces. There is a lot of flexibility to Panes, Zones, and Tabs. It can feel a little awkward at first but it feels pretty robust. BibleWorks wasn’t a chump in layout but it was an issue I struggled with (an example you can google “BW8: Can I stack the Search, Browse, and Analysis panes? (Win8 Tablet, HP Omni)”) Accordance feels like a step up in this area for me. The ability to customize tabs on each pane (or zone? My verbiage is bad) is very cool. On BIG plus is I expect Accordance is work well on my tablet with little fanfare.
(Question: How mobile is the Instant Details window? I always preferred a “boxy” space in the BW’s equivalent window (e.g. fit a lot of HALOT in the box) and right under my reading pane so as I hovered there was easy “hover, look down, look up.”
7: Library. Accordance has a pretty diverse library of expanded content (not my general interest, but it is impressive).
8: Analytics. BibleWorks had these but they look nice in Accordance and are pretty quick access. I would say more but the Light version on had Hits Graph and with limited resources I couldn’t duplicate their charts to see if they would serve my needs (I am less interested in how the KJV or ESV translates a root; I am very interested in how the LXX translates a Hebrew word. Depending on what Databases work with these tools their utility is unknown for me. But they look nice! But it ALWAYS nice to get visual feedback, “This verb is in the Qal 73% of the time and never appears in the Nifal” and “This verb frequently is in high proximity to this other verb 9 out of the 10 times it appears, let me check them out… ok, they are often in parallel and seem to have some overlapping semantic domain.”)
(Question: Do users find the click on bars useful? Clicking the bars to get to the results is important to me. AND does the Concordance analytics window allow you to quick jump to the passage while not losing your spot?)
9: Search Bar Syntax. I have command line and programming background so the geek in me totally got the search expressions in BibleWorks AND appreciated their elegance. But it was always the biggest hurdle when introducing new users to the program. More natural language expressions like <AND> or <OR> might seem like a small thing but it lowers the bar of entry.
10: Mobile version! Ok, I am on Android and the app is NOT great yet. E.g. You cannot scale your text small enough at times and the popup info definitely needs to be able to be scaled more. As I am on Light it feels empty compared to YouVersion, BLB, and other free Bible Apps. But it is HUGE getting an app to access basic info. I spent many years using my lunch to work on my thesis and didn’t have good access to basic tagged search tools or quality lexicons.
Things I miss, overlooked because I am a newbie, features not in Light but present in the full version, etc.
1: The line-by-line format in BibleWorks was very clean and space efficient. I saw a user tried to emulate this but it was not very clean or space efficient. Also, the BW way of toggling the same area from line-by-line to browse was quick, clean, and VERY usable.
2: Some items are missing from the cross grade and upgrade packages. I know many pointed to certain scans. For me I noticed the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT) and Metzger’s New Testament textual commentary didn’t make it into the packages. BDAG isn’t offering discounted pricing for transferring your license (although Oaktree did discuss a discount.) I have been too busy to compare all items so if others have compared I would like to hear (although the cross grade hits most of the core content I would expect.)
3: Missing tools or features. I am not seeing items similar to the Wordlist Manager and Flashcard tools. As I am on Light it is hard for me to compare so I don’t want to add more items here but I would like others to let me know what is absent or done completely differently. E.g. I thought I read lexicons don’t “run together” in the “analysis window” (i.e. flow from HALOT to TWOT to BDB). I hope my post tone shows I have spent time digging into Accordance and I am not taking pot shots.
Question: Can you open your notes in Microsoft Word? Or must you copy and paste? Will editing in Word break the nifty chapter-verse flow when Accordance reads notes?
Question: Is anyone able to assemble a Workspace as follows (this flow will be familiar with BW users). This is a basic search, browse, drill down, document process:
- “Search Area” Search Results in a left pane.
- “Text Area” Text of selected result in the next pane (toggle between line-by-line and context).
- “Lexicon Area” Word Analysis (parsing) and Lexical References (HALOT, BDAG, BDB, etc.) in a pane BELOW the text area.
- “Data” A new column pane that contains vitals: Summary of all unlocked references related to the selection (a citations of word, parsing, verse)
- “Deep Dive Quick Data” Count of Lexical or Lemma form Searched, Range of results, result filtering, e.g. (1) A quick breakdown of the stems of a verb or (2) the Greek words the LXX translates a Hebrew word or phrase (and vice versa for the New Testament to Hebrew Bible); etc. Also cross references to the verse would be great (here or strategically placed elsewhere)
- “Composition Space” either below the “Deep Dive” or its own pane/window to record notes.
- Essentially, I am wanting to customize a workspace that presents the data I need immediately without a lot of drill down unless it is unavoidable.
Question. Data dumps, what are they like? Are they flexible/manageable? Can I export a list of all the unique words in a select range?—how about their glosses from a select lexicon to go along with them? Can I dump interlinear data into a ‘clean’ English line of text (or column) ala a mechanical translation?
I am working on a “graded audio” reading of some Hebrew texts where I only discuss a word of feature the first time it appears in the range (minus high frequency items!) I will be basically dumping all the first occurrences of words, stems and aspect,
Question: Can I modify/add to the NT use of the OT tool?
Question: Are there plans to create a “web app” that would allow me to access my Accordance tools and library anywhere?
Question: What feature, layout, or resource do you miss the most moving from BibleWorks to Accordance?
Question for Oaktree: With BibleWorks no longer active do you anticipate trying to “fill” some of the spaces they are leaving open, specifically tools and resources for working with the text? Are there BW tools you plan to develop to win over BW users and make us BW converts content? (That wasn’t too subtle, was it?)
Question for Oaktree: What is the upgrade process like? BW was every 2 or 3 years you get a really spiffy tools upgrade/addition plus a lot of new resources and libraries to existing tools. Will Accordance 13 a $60 or so “software only upgrade” that is divorced from content? How often do software updates come out?
Question for Oaktree: There is a lot of public domain info, e.g. Studylight has a huge database of older commentaries and allows very intuitive verse-by-verse aggregation in order so as you are studying you can see all the commentaries on that single verse super quick. Are there plans for Accordance to include similar ideas? (Obviously I don’t need StudyLight in Accordance as the tool is free and publically available, just an example.)
Question for Oaktree: Are you 100% committed to Windows? I have never owned a Mac and have no intentions to do so.
I have a lot more questions about the DSS, Targums, Peshitta, Pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, etc. but I will stop here!