I’ve been a user of Accordance Bible software for a decade, and last week I upgraded from Accordance 9.x to 10.x.
I’d sat on my wallet these past several months because I just didn’t see anything new in 10.x that would make it a compelling upgrade for me. However, they were running a promotion that enabled me to “buy and save” (both! at the same time!) so I went ahead and bought the upgrade.
So coming from the perspective of a semi-reluctant purchaser, here are my first quick impressions:
The new look is more Mac-like, but still pretty idiosyncratic. For example, you can still only resize windows using the widget in the bottom right corner, but you do get to have the new despicable, vile, thoroughly rotten and utterly useless Lion/Mountain Lion scroll bars.
Some of the changes are to my liking and others are not.
A change I mostly like is how the redesigned search window makes it easy to cascade search criteria. Here I’m doing a search for “David” and “Abraham” in the NT, and I limit it so they have to appear in the same verse.
You can see the little drop-down list (with “verse” selected above) that lets me change that to paragraphs, chapters, etc., as you can see here.
The reason I said “mostly like” instead of “like” is that when I work with the NRSV, I normally limit my searches to the Protestant Bible — a preset I made for Gen-Mal and Matt-Rev — and this search criteria widget is less accessible than before, and takes up more vertical screen real-estate. So it’s better, but not a 100% win.
However, not all the changes to Search were to my liking. In particular, I was unhappy to learn (the hard way) about “Auto Context.” What it does is add supporting context to all your searches. There’s a little knob (at the far left of the search bar, right above the search results window) you can use to reduce the amount of context.
The problem is that by default it doesn’t give you additional context in a search, even when the search doesn’t provide much information. When I did the above search for David and Abraham, it (sensibly) assumed I only wanted to see the matching verses.
But when you search for verses, Accordance shows you the context. I can barely see a use for that when you’re searching for a specific verse and you can’t remember what it was. Suppose you couldn’t remember where John 3:16 was and you searched for John 3:17 instead. Here’s what you get:
You get a ton of context, and it’s all unhelpful, because it starts where you told it to start. You miss the only thing that would make it helpful. The context includes 37415 verses, but it doesn’t display a single verse prior to the one you searched for. Note how the (horrible useless vile rotten OSX) scroll bar shows that your window really has all 37K verses there for your browsing pleasure. You even get the Apocrypha as “context” despite having limited the search to the Protestant Bible.
Why isn’t the smarts in auto-context smart enough to do for verses what it did when I searched for words like David and Abraham, above? Beats me. What I did was turn it off. Here’s how:
(I whined about this “feature” yesterday on Twitter, and was delighted that someone at @AccordanceBible who monitors Twitter tweeted a tip about how to turn it off. Social Media-savvy companies FTW.)
For blocks of text larger than verses, though, why would you ever want to see more context? The context of chapter 3 is chapters 2 and 4. Duh. The context of Romans is Acts and 1 Corinthians. The context of Malachi is…, well, that’s actually kind of complicated.
But there’s a greater problem. Accordance thinks its users “search” for verses. But who does that? John 3:16 is always located in the same place. I want to navigate there, not search for it.
But what (you say) if you want to find that place in John 3 where God sent Jesus into the world, but you can’t remember if it was God or Father, or Jesus or Christ or the Son, and all you can remember is “world.” Wouldn’t it be helpful to search for verses then?
Sure. You just can’t do it when you’re “searching” for verses. If you add words to a verse search, you get an error message telling you “There are extra characters after the verse reference,” and offering to fix it by adding a colon. (Which doesn’t fix it.)
But that kind of search is useful. That’s why Accordance lets you add a range of verses when you search for a word. Like this:
(Note how the auto-context feature is automatically narrowing the search to exclude the context. If only it was smart enough to do that with verses!)