Don't Need No Stinking Manuals!

A Review of the Accordance Bible Software Training DVD

by Kevin Sorenson (Posted: 3/28/05)

 

My Growing Bible Software Needs

I've been using Bible software on my Mac for quite some time. I was first introduced to the Macintosh computer around 1987. When I first laid eyes on the little Mac+ sitting on my friend's desk, I knew it was love. I purchased my own Mac+ the following year.

As a youth pastor in a large church in the upper Midwest, I wanted to work with something that would make my set-up time easier: clip-art, word processing, and Bible lessons. Some time in late '89 or early '90, I bought a version of MacBible. It was a decent program, but the capacity of the Mac+ was limited, so MacBible got little use (remember switching out all those floppies?).

Four years later I upgraded my system to the Quadra 605, and eventually acquired an external CD-ROM drive. Around that time, a pastoral friend of mine introduced me to Online Bible.

Entering the senior pastorate later on gave me more time to devote to the "ministry of the Word" (Acts 6.2). The demand for a bible app that could do what I wanted and needed grew. The church I currently serve helped me purchase my iMac (Rev B, I think it was) in 1998 and I was off and running with OS 9.

Accordance Bible Software came to my attention some time in the mid- to late-90s. The program fascinated me because of the potential it held. Cost was prohibitive for me at the time, but I worked toward the eventual purchase. And work I did, for I had seen the Scholar's Edition and my goal was set. At last, in 2000, I acquired Accordance, version 4.0.x if I remember correctly. Using the multiple versions of the biblical text, starting to use the Greek and Hebrew tagged texts was a great experience, but I knew I wasn't yet using the full potential of this app.

Until just a few months ago, I only upgraded Accordance once (to v. 4.4 or some sequence of numbers like that) and that only because the updated version came with the EBC and NIDNTT sets I purchased. Any newer versions weren't even a question for me, since OS X was still out there on the far distant horizon.

Great reluctance held me back from OS X. How would I upgrade all my apps? What would I do with all those others that couldn't be upgraded? I needed my OS 9 to work! Well, in April of '04, I was able to buy a refurbished G4 that was both OS X and Classic compatible and away I went. I'm nearly OS 9.2.2 free now, but it's still there, like an old faithful dog, ready to serve me, when the young whelp of a pup OS X doesn't quite offer me all I was once used to.

Last fall, I upgraded to Accordance 6.x. I installed it on my laptop (an old reliable Wallstreet G3 w/ 9.2.2) and it looked fine. But when I put it on the G4 with 10.3, my exact words were something along the lines of "Wow! Yes! Oh my! and Wow!" There was much that was familiar to me, but the "new stuff" was great: tabbed workspaces, multiple windows in one, the user notes capability and more. But I knew I still wasn't using Accordance to anywhere near its full capabilities ... because I just didn't know how. For one, I didn't have the time to sit for hours on end exploring its potential. For another, I hate manuals. (I'm half Danish, half Irish; I defy you to tell me anything!) So I limped along, using it minimally.

Sure Beats a Manual!

Then David Lang, CMUG's editor and one of the developers of Accordance, asked me to review the Accordance Training DVD. The DVD highlights many of the key features of Accordance, most of which I was already familiar with. But it also explores others I had left untouched. Personally, it was a great benefit to me (largely because it just didn't seem like a manual!).

In Accordance, the Bible is central. That may sound painfully obvious for a Bible study program, but the Word of God is that upon which we stand as Christians, and Accordance won't lead you away from it—even as you pursue all the other bells and whistles it offers. Searching is the real key to unlocking Accordance's power, a key I had left under the fake rock in the flower bed for too long. The DVD would begin to help me here.

The Training DVD format was quite easy to follow. Open up the initial interface and the menu is so clear, even a PC weenie could use it! I found it to have a slightly familiar look to it (then I went back to the website and realized someone likes that grey-with-highlights interface look). Each of the mini-training sessions then opens up into its own independent movie window. The only suggestion I could make here would be to make the "Play" and "Pause" features work with the space bar (I try to use the mouse as little as possible if I can).

The Accordance Training DVD offers two ways to access the video tutorials. The file named Accordance.osx opens a Macromedia Director interface which is attractive and easy to navigate, but the video controls are somewhat limited.

The file named seminar.htm opens a no-frills table of contents in your web browser, with links to the various movie files. While less slick than the Director interface, this offers better movie controls, including the ability to hit the space bar to play and pause.

What You Get

The DVD covers the following topics:

  • An introduction to basic searches (this doesn't go long; they assume you know the simplest "ins" and "outs" of the app)
     
  • Highlights of some of the tools (basic ones included; a few that can be purchased and how they would be helpful)
     
  • A review of the WYSIWYG philosophy of Accordance
     
  • A session on the Instant Details and Resource Palettes
     
  • And, most helpful to me personally, the Advanced Features of Accordance (Tagged texts and using them for advanced searches). I jumped immediately to this portion and worked my way backwards.

I found the whole experience simple, clear, and to the point. It was visually pleasing (personal preferences aside regarding overall color schemes!). It builds on the intuitive aspect of using a Mac and most apps a Mac-user works with. It was quite helpful to me in explaining some of the features of 6.x and giving some fresh reminders. Just a few were:

  • A quick overview of the Tool "Browser" feature; I just hadn't used this before.
     
  • A short presentation on the "marking" capabilities
     
  • A highlighting of Hyperlinking texts (I really love this feature; when I'm working with my User Notes, the ability to jump to other texts and to link them is great)
     
  • A feature on Parallels (I hadn't used this much at all before, but I will be now, especially the ability to access Old Testament quotations in the New Testament)
     
  • Highlighting text has become a "big" thing with me as I've been teaching Inductive Bible Studies over the past 3 years (now I can mark up my computer Bible too!)

Most helpful to me, however, was the Advanced Features section of the DVD. I knew about tagged texts but really hadn't worked with them much at all. The simple explanations helped a great deal and have opened up all new possibilities for me in my studies and sermon/lesson preparations. The DVD described in clear, concise terms how to search the Greek and Hebrew texts for lexical forms, inflected forms, and grammatical tags. All that "stuff" I was told about in seminary—I can now do myself! And finally, the short presentation on the "Details Button", opening up the graphing, analysis, syntactical abilities is very beneficial.

So as not to sound like a shill for Accordance (I'm receiving no remuneration for this review, but I'm always open to offers, David), were there any flaws in the Training DVD? The few I saw were mostly personal preference types of things:

  • Use longer pauses between main points in the presentation, or at least get that spacebar thing to work! There were times I wanted to ponder what was said and I just found the mouse a bit awkward.

    [Note: If the html interface is used, the spacebar can be used to pause the videos. See the illustration above. —Ed.]
     
  • Show more keyboard commands; love to use that keyboard to get things done.

Overall, the Training DVD was very helpful. If I understand correctly, it will also be "upgradeable" as future segments are added. That will only make this, like Accordance, more helpful than I could ever have realized.



Kevin Sorenson is the pastor of Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Rochester, Minnesota. He is married to Ann and has three children: Rebecca, Jonathan, and Elizabeth.


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Multi-Platform Bible Software Survey Results: Mac, PC, and Handheld Bible Software Users Compared.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: First Impressions of the G5 iMac.
Searching for God in Mac Bible Software: A comparison of speed and accuracy.
2004 Mac Bible Software Survey Results: What you had to say about Bible Software for the Mac.

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