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Make location URLs more future-proof


jlm
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My notes (outside of Accordance) now have thousands of accord:// links, and I've begun to worry about their future usefulness. My concern is that they're linking to Tools with a paragraph number, counting from the beginning of the module. If a correction splits or joins paragraphs, or adds some content that was initially left out, then paragraph numbers will change, by a little or a lot, and a link to paragraph 8319, for example, won't be the same paragraph that had that number when I copied a link to it (or will it be? Are these numbers already stable?).

 

An even greater change takes place when volumes are added to a commentary. In this case the module name changes, and I don't suppose links to the old module will open the new one to the corresponding location. I could search and replace to change the module name in my links, but the paragraph numbers will only correspond for paragraphs prior to the first new volume added to the set.

 

So I suggest that location URLs be offsets from something closer to the place linked than the beginning of the module. This could at least be the beginning of a volume, e.g., instead of accord://read/WBC-NT-25#18029, accord://read/WBC-NT-25#35B.1712 (meaning volume 35B, paragraph 1712). Better still, count from something even closer, like a Reference location, the name of a dictionary article, or a page number. Volume, page number, and paragraph offset could be a good way to make a stable link (accord://read/WBC-NT#35B.553.4). With the volume number, we no longer need to add the volume count to the module name, and the link could keep working when volumes are added. WBC-NT-25 just has to know it provides the resource "WBC-NT", as a future WBC-NT-27 might.

 

It seems that Logos has noticed the issue, because they've introduced a new URL format, although I think including snippets of text to help locate the passage is going a bit overboard.

 

I think it would also be a good idea to adopt something more like a URL query syntax, where parameters are separated with ampersands and standard URL encoding is used to protect special characters. The first benefit of URL encoding would be that it would eliminate the ambiguity between underscore and space, making it possible to link to books that have underscores in their names.

accord://read/CLASSICS-E#5Ar_Nic._1137:1 (error due to ambiguity) -> accord://read/CLASSICS-E#5Ar_Nic.+1137:1 (unambiguous)

 

It would also make it possible to specify additional parameters needed to make a search work:

accord://search/WBC-NT-25;Page_Numbers?35B_553 (copied URL doesn't indicate flex is needed) -> accord://search/WBC-NT-25?35B+553&field=Page_Numbers&flex=1

 

And perhaps we could specify additional modules to show in parallel, like accord://read/NABRE?Isa.+66:10-14&parallel1=HMT-W4&parallel2=Anchor_Isa-Mal

Platforms that only allow one parallel resource (like mobile devices) would ignore additional parallels.

 

More thought is needed on how to make URLs as future-proof as possible.

 

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  • 1 month later...

I don't link to a lot of multi-volume works, but after reading this I am concerned that some of my paragraph based links will be pretty fragile as new editions of resources come out.  I am all for any way you can figure out to make them more, as jim says, future-proof.

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It is for this reason that I continue to cite as if I was reading the paper copy. I continue to be pleased Accordance preserves page numbers in the modules.

 

Now if only one could create a secret decoder ring for the many different ways to reference complete works anthologies. Volume X Page Y in one anthology can be something entirely different in another.

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When new volumes are added to a series, we note the range of inserted paragraphs. Accordance uses that information to shift highlighting, etc. Accordance also knows what group the module belongs to. So, if we moved from BECNT-18 to BECNT-19, Accordance knows that the external links from another module to BECNT-18 should be redirected to BECNT-19. It seems like this information could be used for redirecting URLs. I don't see this on the internal list of feature requests. I'll go ahead and add it. It seems like a pretty important feature that affects everyone.

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Overall, I try to avoid linking to paragraphs. I try to always use a search URL instead, whether searching for a specific title, lexical entry, or page number. This is update-proof (except perhaps when page numbers are added to an old module). However, it still fails when a volume is added to a series, which requires a new product i.d. for the store.

 

Searching page numbers can be tricky sometimes, as Dan pointed out. Bock's commentary on Luke, for example, has a page number that looks like this:

[Luke 9:51–24:53, p. vii]
Remembering that an asterisk can be used to search for periods and other characters, you end up with a search URL like this: 

 

https://accordance.bible/link/search/BECNT-18R2;Page_Numbers?Luke_9_*_51_*_24_*_53_*_p_*_ix

 

In most cases you can get the correct search URL by highlighting the page number and hit CMD-4. This will search the module for what you just highlighted. (My overall favorite shortcut for Texts, btw.) Then right-click the search bar in the new tab and copy as search URL. That shortcut doesn't work for volumes that contain ranges of chapters. So, this doesn't work for the example on Luke. However, its generally pretty helpful.

 

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8 hours ago, Jordan S said:

Overall, I try to avoid linking to paragraphs.

I have lots of paragraph links because that’s what I can easily copy, either with “Copy as location URL” on the Desktop, or more often with the share sheet on iOS. I have a Pythonista script that takes the text and URL Accordance passes to the share sheet, and formats it as a quote with a link to Accordance. I could stop to make a search URL, but that would be much slower than the ‘select and make three taps’ with which I can produce this: “This commentary is historical, exegetical, and (in the remarks summarizing each exegetical section) pastoral” ([BEC: Luke 9-24](accord://read/BEC-Luke_9-24#27)).

 

The ease with which I can make these linked quotes is why I have so many of them in my notes for liturgical occurrences and various objects of study. This is also why I do a lot of sermon preparation on my iPad: on the desktop I need to copy first the quote, and then the link, whereas on iOS I can get both at once.

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