[sword-devel] Bible Software Review

Jonathan Morgan jonmmorgan at gmail.com
Thu May 1 16:16:18 MST 2008

On Fri, May 2, 2008 at 12:38 AM, DM Smith <dmsmith555 at yahoo.com> wrote:
> On Thu, May 1, 2008 at 4:03 PM, Daniel Owens <dhowens at pmbx.net> wrote:
>  average users aren't familiar with regular
> expressions. A regular expression builder dialog would be fantastic.
> I don't agree with the regular expression
> suggestion. It is true that most users aren't familiar with regular
> expressions. However, regular expressions aren't a feature that most
> users will need to use. I understand regular expressions well, and
> search the Bible frequently, and yet I have never had cause to use
> regular expressions. I suspect that only people who understand
> regular expressions well will actually want to use them. Most Bible
> searches are satisfied by multi word or phrase search, which is quick
> and easy and anyone who has used Google can understand.
>  I worked for 15 years for a full-text online retrieval company (that will
> remain unnamed) and being a geek at heart, I am very familiar with regex and
> other boolean searches.
>  I think that there are some regex capabilities that users do want and this
> is where a RE builder is useful. BibleDesktop has one for that reason. With
> it you can build:
>  Words that must be present (Most engines either default to implied OR. Some
> to AND. There needs to be a way to specify the other.)
>  Phrase searches (Some users don't know how to use quotes)
>  Approximation searches (e.g. look for words whose spelling is unknown, such
> as the name Abemalik.)
>  Wildcard searches (e.g. words starting with)
>  User's need a way of either finding all hits or the most likely hits. So we
> have prioritized search.
>  The short coming of most of our search engines is that it searches the
> entire Bible but verse by verse.
>  There needs to be a way to search only part of the Bible. BD provides this
> in the RE builder with predefined and user defined ranges.
>  There needs to be a way to search for against more than 1 verse at a time.,
> as verses are an artificial construct. The RE builder does not expose this,
> but BD provides the ~n nearness operator for this, where n is the number of
> verses to consider.
>  Applications can hide the complexity of RE with custom searches.
>  For example, (BD does none of the following)
>  It might be reasonable to click on a Strong's number and then find all the
> verse that use it.
>  It would be good to have a "focus" ability, where a user can search the
> results of a search.
>  It would be good to have a "similarity" ability, where a user can find
> statistically similar verses.
>  It might be cool to have the ability to do a cross-reference search against
> commentaries, e.g. find all commentary entries that refer to a particular
> verse.

I don't disagree with most of these things.  My problem with the
phrase "regular expression builder" is that it suggests that the
purpose is to build a regular expression, and I don't think most users
will have that purpose.  Providing something to put together different
parts of a regular expression is fine (BPBible supports some of the
things you suggest, and they are all turned into REs eventually before
searching).  However, it should be represented with "custom searches"
or something similar as you suggest that actually meet the user goals.
 Something called a regular expression builder sounds to me like
something that is actually trying to represent all possible REs in a
UI, and I don't see that as useful.


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