Sunday, September 13, 2009

Accordance and Me, Part 2: The Coming of the Emulator

I began a series of posts on Accordance last week and this week I want to add another installment in the series called “The Coming of the Emulator”.

As I began my Ph.D. work at Cambridge I studied alongside a Finnish guy named Marko. Marko and I got along well and we shared similar research interests. Marko was a computer programmer before leaving the workplace to pursue a degree in the New Testament. During his years at Tyndale House he was the resident computer expert. Marko made a significant impression on me with respect to the advantage of Accordance over BibleWorks through various conversations. While the details now of his opinions are not fuzzy, I remember that he strongly believed that for people not extremely computer savvy, Accordance was the better of the two. One comment I remember him making was that in his opinion BibleWorks was a more demanding and not as intuitive a program. This was to say nothing of the fact that at that time Accordance was leading the way in publishing tagged primary source material. such as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

As I remember it, while Marko liked BibleWorks, and I think he was a PC man and used it, he thought on the whole Accordance was better. So, when it became apparent to me that Gramcord was not going to be my long-term solution, I began to think about a Mac. I decided to wait until I had the resources to purchase a Mac and until then I would just hold out. There was no reason to buy an inferior program, if one day I would have wished I had just waited for Accordance.

Then at an SBL I was introduced to the free Mac emulator that Tim Hegg developed. Tim showed me how easy it was to use and I was sold. The emulator opened up the Accordance world to me. On that day, I discovered that I could run Accordance on my PC. I could have Accordance without purchasing at Mac. So at that SBL, I purchased my first Accordance program and modules. I think that was 02 or 03. I would run Accordance on my PC for the next four years until the summer 2007 when I got a MacBook for the first time.

I’ll be honest and say that the emulator, while giving you the goods, is not an efficient tool. On the most basic and important tasks, such as cutting and pasting texts or printing, you would be required to do a number of additional tasks in order to perform the very simple one. For example, on of the most frustrating aspects of the emulator was the inability to directly cut and paste biblical texts into a document. I would have to copy them into a word document in the emulator (I got a free version of Word 5 for Mac) before saving the doc file onto a flash disk. Then after switching from the emulator, I would open the doc on the PC side. I could then copy the text and paste it into my document. This became frustrating after awhile, although I considered it a small inconvenience. One other issue was that it was not practical to use the emulator for teaching given that you would have to jump between the Mac side and the PC side during a presentation and this jumped did not always go smoothly. I Still, I was very thankful for the emulator and over the moon about the fact that I had Accordance.

When I purchased Accordance, Martin Abegg had recently finished the tagging of all the sectarian Dead Sea Scrolls and it was the only Bible program to offer them at the time. The Scrolls were one of the first modules I purchased and used it to great effect whilst working on research in the Scrolls. I am indebted to Accordance for that module as it was foundational to that research. It should be said that I have felt this kind of indebtedness on many an occasion over the course of the years.

2 comments:

Helen Brown said...

Joel:

The emulator has always been able to run the Atlas and Timeline, just not the 3D views of the Atlas. And, since the Unicode export was improved in version 6, it is much easier to export Greek and Hebrew text to Word, although it does still require you to save the text as a file and then open it in Windows.

Joel Willitts said...

Helen:

Thank you for this correction; I took out that line. Perhaps I just wasn't aware of the fact, but I was certainly under this impression for some reason.