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News, How-tos, and assorted Views on Accordance Bible Software.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008  

What My English Teacher Taught Me About Software

My High School English teacher was fond of saying that, "writing is never finished." In fact, she had a general policy of never giving a grade of 100% to a piece of writing, because she wanted to underscore the idea that one's writing can always be improved.

This is true not only of writing but of software development as well. It is never finished. At no point can you sit back and say that you're done.

The closest I came to feeling that way in the development of Accordance was when we were developing version 5. With version 1, Accordance broke ground as the first Macintosh program capable of doing complex grammatical searching of Greek and Hebrew texts. It was also the first program to make such searches easy to do. With version 2, we added Tools, User Notes, Parallels, and Reference Lists to make Accordance a well-rounded Bible study program rather than just a specialized tool for language study. With version 3, we added the Search All window and pioneering language tools like the Diagram and Syntax windows. Version 3.5 saw the addition of the Bible Atlas, which is still leading the field. With version 4, we added a host of new features, but the biggest by far was the addition of Bible texts with Strong's numbers.

It was after version 4 that I felt like Accordance offered everything most users had come to expect in a Bible program, and it was then that Accordance really established itself as the Bible program to have for Mac users.

We don't give codenames to new versions of Accordance, but I remember joking at the time that if we were to give version 5 a codename, it should be "gravy." That's because we were no longer developing must-have features to meet user demand; we were merely adding new features to improve our product and extend our lead. By the time version 5 was released, it was a huge upgrade, introducing major new features like color highlighting, user tools, more advanced search commands, etc. Not only that, but we later released a Carbon version to run on OS X, making Accordance the first OS X-native Bible program.

But then a funny thing happened: we noticed our list of features to add getting longer rather than shorter. Not only that, but our users were once again requesting a variety of "must-have" features.

This extension of our to-do list can be attributed to a number of factors, which I'll talk more about in my next post. For now, suffice it to say that what I learned in high school about writing has proven to be even more true of software development: there's always room for further improvement. And with that thought, I better get back to work!

The only thing I wish for is a UB version of Accordance, which I know you all are working on. More features? I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of what's already there!!

Software is only finished if it is abandoned! I know of a few programs that have met that fate on my computer. Not Accordance. Keep up the great work.

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