Graphical Searches: A Test Case

Posted by on August 9, 2005 in Comparative | 0 comments

A few days ago, Rick Brannan posted an interesting example of a graphical search performed with Libronix. He wanted to find instances of the Greek adjective καλός (“good”) followed or preceded by a noun. The conditions were that they had to be 0-3 words apart, and agree in case and number. The search was restricted to the Pastoral Epistles, and he used a grammatically tagged version of NA27. The whole article explains, step by step, how to build this search, and the end result is shown below.

The Graphical Query Editor was introduced not so long ago, and its features are explained in some detail in this tutorial.

Later that same day, David Lang, member of the development team of Accordance, compared Rick’s procedure with the Construct Window that has been available in Accordance from the very beginning. His post (number 6 in the thread) glossed the simplicity and intuitiveness of Accordance when compared to Libronix.

Last Monday, Tyler F. Williams — without previous knowledge of David’s comments –, blogged about this, comparing the graphical search capabilities of these two programs.

The original query presented by Rick would look thus in Accordance:

The thread caught my attention from the start, and I was planning on writing some comments on it, but both David and Tyler drew their guns faster than me, so to speak ;-) Nonetheless, I would like to introduce another element that has not been mentioned yet.

There is another contestant in this area of graphical searches: the Advanced Search Engine in BibleWorks. The same search discussed above would look like this in the ASE:

As one would expect, all three programs yield the same results. They use the same databases, but their user interface and workflow are vastly different.

I decided to test the same search in Libronix, Accordance, and BibleWorks (in this particular order). If you look at the screenshots you will immediately realize some of the differences. Let me summarize them for you:

1. Libronix uses more “cryptic” language than both Accordance and BibleWorks, and requires the user to go through far more steps, in the form of dialog boxes and drop-down menus.

2. In Libronix, “At most 3″ allows for up to 2 intervening words, just like “WITHIN 3″ in Accordance. However, BibleWorks allows up to 3, so I had to use “At most 2″ in order to get the same result.

3. Both Libronix and Accordance have a Sentence search field. BibleWorks lacks a specific field, but can look for sentences and clauses by allowing or disallowing certain punctuation marks and crossing verse boundaries. Incidentally, in 1 Timothty 6:11, the term πραϋπαθίαν found by BibleWorks is a wrong hit, since it is followed by a period and should not be counted. UPDATE (August 12): It has been brought to my attention that if one specifies which punctuation marks are NOT allowed, rather than the other way round, then the search yields the right results.

4. Libronix and BibleWorks have an option to ignore word order. Accordance does not, hence the need to duplicate the Construct window, invert the search terms, and perform an OR search.

5. Each one of the programs return different statistics, but they are all right, since they follow a slightly different logic. Thus, Libronix finds 47 occurrences (hits) in 19 articles (i.e., sentences). Accordance yields 25 hits (containing the same 47 hit words found by Libronix) in 40 verses (but only 20 of those displayed contain hits). Finally, BibleWorks’ search results in 26 hits and 21 verses. Here the figures would be the same as Accordance, except for the false hit already mentioned in point 3 above. UPDATE (August 12): But see the Update. By reversing the logic of the punctuation settings one gets 25 hits in 20 verses.

My personal conclusion regarding this type of search is that BibleWorks requires slightly less steps than Accordance, and a lot less than Libronix. On the other hand, Accordance is considerably more intuitive and easier to set up than the others. As for Libronix, it’s catching up fast (considering it is only at version 2.1, and the Graphical Query Editor has been developed only recently compared to Accordance and BibleWorks).

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