WORDsearch 11: New Features, Part 3 (NoteStacks)

The final element of my evaluation of Lifeway’s version 11 release of their WORDsearch electronic Bible Study platform concerns the only really new feature introduced in this version, which is a brand new knowledge management tool known in various contexts as NoteStack, NoteStacks, Note Stacks, and Card Stacks. This tool seems similar to the Sermons & Illustrations tool that appeared in the prior version, but is geared more toward topically or logically organizing content from library resources. More fundamentally, this is a vastly improved mechanism for annotating non-Bible books in the library, and should replace the use of the “Personal Notes” window available within non-Bibles, which stores annotations in HTML files which are only accessible within the Desktop they were created in, and which not infrequently become unusable after their associated book resource gets updated. For that purpose alone, this tool is a giant step forward. NoteStack notes can be created freehand, but that will not establish links between the Note and the content’s originating resource. However, if you create the NoteStack Note by right-clicking selected text within the original resource, 2-way links are established, and that is how to replace the “Personal Notes” function.

Whereas the created content within the Sermons & Illustrations tool would likely be fairly long-form entries of user-generated writing which may include quotes from library resources, NoteStacks consist of what are essentially electronic index cards (as big or small as you need them to be) which would primarily contain quoted material from library resources, along with associated user notes, reference and/or cross-reference information, and a space to track usage history. These cards are assigned Categories, which serve a very similar purpose to the Tags entries in the Sermons tool. One difference between the tools is that the cards or notes can be bundled together into independent grouping units called stacks, which allows for easy temporary filtering of cards, as for example: identifying a set of cards to group (stack) together as “for next week” without having to create a Category “for next week” and then go and assign (and later un-assign) that Category to each card.

This is a very useful looking tool, which could be employed in a number of different ways. Like pretty much every window in the WORDsearch app, it lacks the polish necessary to really bring the design idea to its full potential, but it is serviceable as-is, and could prove valuable over time to those who use it regularly to annotate and/or tag passages from their non-Bible books.