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Recommended Accordance to a Friend, but...


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#1 William Cross

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 11:53 AM

I have been using Accordance for the past ten years. I love it. I think you have an amazing program and I continue to invest in resources for it every year.

That said, I was very quick to tell my young friend who was switching to the Mac to get Accordance. I went on and on about it and he now owns Accordance with a plethora of modules.

He lives a good distance from me (a number of states away) and I recently talked with him on the phone. He brought up Accordance and to my surprise was struggling to use it. How could this be I declared it is simply awesome!

He proceeded to tell me that the program is just over whelming to him and that the interface is not so Mac like since most Mac programs now are much more clear with the User Interface as to what to do. He said that since he is just a passive user not preaching or teaching regularly he was not in front of the program enough to remember all of the stuff. I encouraged him to watch the tutorials, but he had. It was just to much time in between uses to remember all of the key commands and unique interface stuff. He said he understands that the search bar is the main feature touted for Accordance, but he thought the commands and language for doing searches was not standard or clear enough.

As we talked more I got the feeling from him that he sees Accordance like a young artist sees a blank canvas, intimidating. He is used to a canvas that already has a sketch laid down and numbers in each area telling you where to paint and what color to use.

I encouraged him to keep at it and maybe we could set up a screen share at some point to show him a few things.


I just thought the Accordance team might like to hear this type of perspective. Since he will not be using Accordance in a daily of even weekly way, should I have encouraged him to get a simpler, more basic program?
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#2 Helen Brown

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 11:59 AM

I am interested in the responses of other users.

We are working right now on a new feature that will address this very issue. In the meantime I would encourage him to watch a few of the Lighting the Lamp podcasts.
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#3 Robert B Johnson

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 12:45 PM

I am interested in the responses of other users.

We are working right now on a new feature that will address this very issue. In the meantime I would encourage him to watch a few of the Lighting the Lamp podcasts.


It is an interesting response to the interface. I find that the interface is clean and simple. But the possibilities of searching are large and possibly intimidating. It is true that searching for "forget, forgot, forgets, forgotten" is easily searched for with "forg*t*" which isn't really intuitive. But that is the only thing I can think of.

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#4 DanG

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 02:32 PM

I'm reminded of the quote: "Never ask a fish what water is like." Those who use Accordance every day are not the ones we should ask about whether the GUI is easy to use.

My experience with new users to Accordance is very similar to yours. I have made similar observations as your friend in the past concerning the ease-of-use in Accordance only to be marginalized by some in the forums. Of course, those in the forums are the ones most familiar with Accordance. I'm not trying to be negative, I just don't feel like the concerns of people like your friend are heard. This creates a bad experience for people like your friend and for Accordance.

While I like Accordance and use it frequently, there are many things that are not intuitive—you have to know the "tricks." There are other programs (some of which are often criticized for shortcomings in the blog and on this forum) which are easier to use for the casual user or beginner. My hope is that we listen to those like your friend and learn from him and even learn from other Bible software programs to make Accordance an even better product.
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#5 RobM

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 06:09 PM

As we talked more I got the feeling from him that he sees Accordance like a young artist sees a blank canvas, intimidating. He is used to a canvas that already has a sketch laid down and numbers in each area telling you where to paint and what color to use.


While I'm sure this is a good analogy for your friend, I think this is certainly the case for how Accordance actually is. Think about it, when you initially open Accordance (either for the first time or if you have your settings to open to a default search text and not a created workspace) all you get is the default Bible text. This is a feature Accordance boasts about. Nothing gets in the way of the Bible. Frankly, I love it. However, to a new user or 'passive' user, I can see how it would look "blank" because it is blank. Other programs (that I'm not familiar) with may put more there either along with the Bible or in place of it. But it may be that what they put there helps the user to decide what to do by putting forth a few select options with clear instructions and possible expectations.

Which brings up another point. Those who use Accordance most often, are morely likely to open the program with a very particular purpose in mind (e.g., bible reading, Greek/Hebrew word/syntax study, sermon prep, lecture prep, homework, etc), while many others (like your friend) open the program as they would a print Bible, asking, "what do I want to look at today?" When the latter opens Accordance, instead of realizing the range of things they could do, they get the 1000 yard stare and don't know what to do.

Most of us on the Forums already know what we want to do and we don't want any distractions or impediments in achieving that goal. We proceed directly to our task and Accordance allows us to do just that. This is a major strength of Accordance. But it's not so helpful for everyone else.

Here's a suggestion for a solution:
Design a 'welcome workspace' or welcome screen (or something) that opens on the initial opening of Accordance regardless of level of purchase. Perhaps even customize them depending on which level is purchased. Then give the option to the user to either turn this feature off or keep it on as the default starting point.

This way, the passive user would have a starting point that he/she can turn off and back on again as needed and also the power user can turn it off so as not to be distracted by it.

What do you all think? Accordance people, is something like this what you have in mind?

Edited by RobM, 08 March 2011 - 06:11 PM.


#6 JonathanHuber

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 07:13 PM

Here's a suggestion for a solution:
Design a 'welcome workspace' or welcome screen (or something) that opens on the initial opening of Accordance regardless of level of purchase. Perhaps even customize them depending on which level is purchased. Then give the option to the user to either turn this feature off or keep it on as the default starting point.


I do use Accordance with particular purposes in mind and agree with your points. That said, I could see how a "welcome workspace" or even something like the Logos home screen could be useful for some people. In fact, Logos' implementation looks like it could be fun for the occasional "let's go explore something new" moment even for people that are usually more focused in the way they use Accordance.

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#7 slhuckstead

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 08:54 PM

This post has helped me isolate and collate the thoughts in my head regarding why a new user is overwhelmed with Accordance, especially if that user is coming over from Logos. I have been an Accordance user since version 5 with the Standard Library and when I started seminary I upgraded to the base Scholar's package. But with all the money I spent, I just didn't use the program a lot. Upon reflection is just seemed that it was complicated "How do I search for this word and how do I find it in my other tools? Why can't I click here and why is that invalid?" There were just too many variables. I saw my PC friends using Logos and was jealous, they just typed in the verse or a topic and all of this information just came up. It was easy.

So, when L4M was announced I jumped in with both feet. Initially I was impressed. I type in a verse and up comes all of the relevant information. Everything was searched out and presented to me. However, even with all of the resources, I kept coming up with issues. It was slow. I couldn't isolate biblical passages. It was slow. As I began to understand the original languages it wouldn't do what I wanted. It was slow. Than version 9 was released. All of my niggles with Accordance had been answered. I called up Logos and got a refund and proceeded, again, with Accordance. I love the program now. So why is that?

First, and foremost the program is responsive, and that by itself makes the program top shelf. I can use it. But the more I think about it Accordance is still a training-wheels-are-off type of program. It is advanced and you have to get used to the process of exegesis and research to dig into the program. Before Logos I was simply using Accordance as a glorified concordance. After Logos I understood the process of computer based biblical studies and theological research, Logos provided that intermediary step in getting a foothold on how to work. When I came back to Accordance I felt I could move around the program and access information like I could not have done before.

This, I think is the missing link, if you will, in Accordance. Like I said, it is the grown-up version of bible programs, and so when you launch it, you immediately have to get to work. There needs to be some sort of intermediary step, perhaps an interface template or a saved set of work-space windows that are set up for new-users. Most people are used to a Google type of information dump, you type in an answer and have to sort through the results. So, if you are a nascent user of the program, you can just stay that way, all the information, whether you want it or not is there, but you feel good. However, if you are a seminary student, pastor, or scholar (or all three, or a seminary student who thinks he is a scholar), you can build your way up to a more customized and flexible interface. 

It took me a little bit to understand that I am the one building the workspace from the bottom up (in a sense) rather than having a fully furnished room immediately offered to me. Logos has the latter right out of the box.

I like the idea of a welcome workspace, sort'a. In Logos it seemed really cool at first, than you realized that it was just an aggregation of their marketplace and your modules/library. I was glad I could turn it off once i got to know the program.

#8 Fr. Rusty

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 09:14 PM

In my opinion, the UI is not set up well in many respects, it is not intuitive, and, it does not make study of the Bible the main thing, if one has the distractions of trying to figgue out how to study the Bible with the software.
This is what I think the man was saying.

I too have tried to share this software with others, one just recently, about two weeks ago, the UI completely overwhelmed them.
I think the market for Accordance is much larger than the UI allows.

A "for instance" ; I am pretty new to Mac, going on three years.
In my learning curve, I did not have to watch a video to use Safari, Pages, Itunes, IPhoto etc. I was just able to "click about a bit" and use the software and be productive.

Did I ever watch some "help videos" ?
Sure I did, when I finally ran into something I couldn't "click" my way out of, or better,through.

Apple spent/spends a lot of money having academics study the "way people think and do things" so that the platform "just works".

Accordance , while incredibly powerful, with incredible support staff, is somewhat lacking in the "it just works" area when it comes to the User Interface. I have told many people this was part of the problem for Micro-Soft, they forgot what the term UI actually defined.

I am sure, just positively sure, that Accordance can be both easier to use for the average person and , just as incredibly detailed and powerful for the advanced academic.

We just need a UI that is more intuitive concerning some of the "basic tasks".

My reason for posting to this thread is three fold:

1. I really do think this is the best software out there, with the best support, I want it accessible for/to more people.

2. With a little better usability concerning the UI and an online store that is easier to use, Accordance market-share widens and deepens, this benefits us all when it comes to Accordance being able to pull resources.
Resources generally go where market is.

3.I too understand about some being made to feel marginalized when speaking of the usability of Accordance.

Accordance is the best Bible, Theology, Ancient Language, etc. software on the market, bar none, but the UI is overwhelming, clumsy, time consuming.

I almost did not purchase it because of the UI, and, considered giving up on it myself at least a dozen times, and honestly, after almost three years as a daily user, still find it slow to move around in, difficult workflow, and frustrating at times which does move me away for the study of the text.

A few UI tweaks would make all the difference in the world, Imo.

Blessings to all,

Rusty+

Edited by Fr. Rusty, 08 March 2011 - 09:21 PM.


#9 Fr. Rusty

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 09:25 PM

Good Post!

#10 Helen Brown

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 10:47 PM

We agree with you all, and have been working on just such an introductory window, or assistant. It will come out with version 9.3 in just a few weeks. Thank you for the feedback, you may even have given us ideas for a few tweaks to our plans.
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#11 HansK

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 11:54 PM

Wow, perhaps also some default or sample workspaces, like for OT Studies, NT Studies etc based on the level you have bought.
Good work in progress.

Hans

We agree with you all, and have been working on just such an introductory window, or assistant. It will come out with version 9.3 in just a few weeks. Thank you for the feedback, you may even have given us ideas for a few tweaks to our plans.



#12 David Voth

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 01:16 AM

I've used Accordance regularly for quite some time, mainly for personal use. You might want to help with setting up some workspaces and put the them in the favourites so that they are easy to access: it sounds like the next version will help in this process. As far as podcasts he might want to check out some of the podcasts that are available on using Accordance for personal study such as "Inductive Bible studies."

The program may be overwhelming, perhaps a UI change would help, but I think it is also because the program is capable of doing so many things. I think that if he takes some time to use it and learn to make use of it, things will get easier to understand how the program works and make it easier to do what he wants to do. I also think that the support that Oak Tree offers in there various ways, such as this forum, are also to be considered.

David

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#13 ddoyle777

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 07:03 AM

Interesting thread. I wondered for a while after first getting Accordance if I would stick with it, too. Understanding the UI was the big hurdle for me as I kept trying to navigate the text by typing references into the search window. First time I'd get what I wanted, but the 2nd time I wouldn't because of how I had the show in context settings.
Then one day I realized the difference between the search window at the top of the UI and the go to box at the bottom. Something clicked in my brain that day and I realized that the interface wasn't as I had thought.
I spent a while playing around to discover what Accordance could do - something that I hadn't done until then - and I've been blazing away ever since.

I agree with Rusty about the videos - I initially went to them when I had a problem, but after my epiphany about the UI I watched all of them before getting into trouble. That's not how I learned any other Mac program, but it did make a great difference in my mastery (?) of Accordance.

I'm looking forward to the 9.3 feature Helen mentions - I'm sure I'll learn even more of the power that is hidden in Accordance.

For what it's worth - I think the UI decisions Accordance makes are good ones. I've come to appreciate it more and more as my understanding of it grew. It certainly has been worth climbing the learning curve for me.

#14 slhuckstead

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 09:23 AM

Helen—do you ever sleep?

Question for this forum. We all agree that there is something not quite right about the UI. I didn't address it because I couldn't define it, can anyone here do that? Is there something basic about the visual logic of the program that overwhelms the mind? Maybe it is the tool bar? Perhaps it needs to incorporate the tab system that you see in the Apple Pages inspector. I just don't know-there just needs to be a minor tweak to something in the UI. Is it a western left to right reasoning "thing"? How do our Hebrew or other Semitic language friends feel about the program.

I am pretty sure that Accordance follows the Apple UI guide (um, I lost my copy though).

#15 Paul Daunno

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 10:40 AM

I've been using Accordance primarily for personal study for around a year and a half. I had very little experience with Bible software prior to Accordance; mostly Quickverse on a PC (it was not very good). I own Accordance Standard Library, Standard Scholars, Atlas/Photoguide and a few others odds and ends. I've watched every training video and Dr. J podcast at least 1-2x. I've been to 2 free training seminars here in Atlanta. I'm a techie by trade and for the most part I don't struggle with the UI although a few refinements would make it even better.

Where I struggle the most is knowing exactly what resources I have and how to most effectively use them. My study of the Bible over the years has pretty much been limited to the Bible itself. I don't have a lot of experience with Dictionaries, Commentaries, Lexicons, etc. The names in the Library window are generally very cryptic and make knowing what exactly I have available to me even more complex. An introductory window might be a big help and I look forward to seeing it.

Whatever is done should also be considered for the iOS version too. I have Accordance on my iPad and use it regularly (thank you!). For Accordance to be widely adopted by the masses like some of the competitive products are, it needs to be simple and intuitive to use.

My 2 cents ...
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#16 Jerry Walker

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 12:37 PM

To be honest I have accordance and I don't use it at all, because I don't know how. I've watched the video's and to some degree they help. I ONLY use Logos for mac because I know how to use it and I have a SSD so the slowness is not a big issue but it is STILL SLOW. If Accordance had a home menu like Logos where you could type in your passage and just go, I would use Accordance exclusively!!!! The UI on accordance is HARD to understand, and I've been trying to find someone in Dallas to hook up with to show me how to use it. But I think if the UI was better and the type in your passage and just go to all your resources was implemented, Accordance would change the game!

#17 danzac

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 02:43 PM

To be honest I have accordance and I don't use it at all, because I don't know how. I've watched the video's and to some degree they help. I ONLY use Logos for mac because I know how to use it and I have a SSD so the slowness is not a big issue but it is STILL SLOW. If Accordance had a home menu like Logos where you could type in your passage and just go, I would use Accordance exclusively!!!! The UI on accordance is HARD to understand, and I've been trying to find someone in Dallas to hook up with to show me how to use it. But I think if the UI was better and the type in your passage and just go to all your resources was implemented, Accordance would change the game!



Is this a joke post? Accordance is so simple!

Choose a translation and enter the verse you want (see pic).

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#18 DanG

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 03:02 PM

Is this a joke post? Accordance is so simple!

Choose a translation and enter the verse you want (see pic).


danzac has 245 posts and Jerry has 6. Thanks for proving my point: Never ask a fish what water is like.
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#19 mikes

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 03:12 PM

When I have worked with people new to accordance there are two things that really set them back:

1. Library contents... what is this? or "do I have anything authored by ____" or "what books do I have on 1 Corinthians?"

It is almost impossible to know what you have in your library by looking at the library window. Only after years of working with accordance (still fewer then most) and developing my own "bibliography" user tool, can I find, for example, the "New Bible Commentary"... I actually tell people do do a search on the Accordance website, identify the module name, then put that in the search box of the Library window

To me, this isn't a "problem" with the library window, it's a problem with searching for the metadata about your library.. the library window is the absolute worst place in the world to do that! This problem is worst when you are new to accordance, or when you upgrade to a different package level. It makes people seriously averse to buying more when you can't find out what you have except by opening some random module you don't recognize to see who wrote it, what it actually talks about, and so on.

2. Pre-made workspaces: new users really need some pre-created workspaces by level and function

A basic bible study workspace with the minimum, one for "Study Topic" and another for "Study Passage"

How many times have you found people trying to recreate the workspace from a podcast? Is there any good reason not to just pop that up on the forums?


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#20 Jerry Walker

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 03:37 PM

Is this a joke post? Accordance is so simple!

Choose a translation and enter the verse you want (see pic).


Its not a joke! If all I wanted to do is put in a scripture and click go and it takes me to the bible text I would just keep my print bible! Like DanG said I want to get all of the resources in my library. Where are my commentary's, what books do I have on prayer, where are my theological and doctrinal book. To maneuver to find all of those things in accordance is not as simple as you say it is.
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