I came across this site, where Michael Paul Johnson (at least I think he is the author), after giving a very brief overview of some of the commercial Bible software packages available, lists the features that, in his opinion, the ideal Bible software (if such an animal ever existed) should include. These are:
- Wide selection of Bible texts in many languages, including:
* Many translations in Spanish, English, and other Latin Alphabet languages
* Translations in languages with other alphabets and/or pictograms
* Support for audio Bibles
* Other living languages (all of them – over 6,000)
* Original language texts (Greek, Hebrew)
- Good helps, including maps, dictionaries, etc.
- Ease of use
- Export capability in many formats
- Easy, configurable copy & paste
- Printing/typesetting capability
- Support for open standards like those on the STEP technical information page.
- Support for many languages
- Preserves poetry & prose formatting (not just a list of verses)
- Simple, intuitive, and powerful searches
- Note-taking, highlighting, and journaling features
- Reasonably efficient use of computer resources
- Configurable side-by-side translations for comparison
- Interlinear translation support
- Support for multiple computing platforms (Win32, Linux, Mac, SunOS, etc.)
- Freely available.
These lists are as varied as users themselves, I’m afraid. However, I see a problem in the tendency to mix up objective and subjective aspects of software. There are certain features that can easily be measured: either they are there or they are not (e.g., original language texts, highlighting, etc.) But there are others that are highly subjective. A product may seem “easy to use” to someone, and absolutely “awkward” or “clunky” to somebody else. Similarly, what’s “intuitive” to me may look “cryptic” to you!
Two final observations may be in order: STEP isn’t currently a “standard” in the generally accepted sense of the term, IMO, and support for multiple computing platforms is expensive and difficult to develop (unless we enter into the field of emulation or some open-source project based, for instance, on Java). But the icing to the cake is to have all of that “freely available”!
I don’t mean to be critical of this particular wish list. We all have our own, I’m sure, and I think they are useful and even necessary. But this one is a good starting point to realize just how difficult it is to make a single application all things to all people. So, do you have a list of the “ideal” Bible software? Maybe you’d like to jot down a few items and features, and take into account some of the things I’ve pointed out here. One of the things that’s coming to Bible Software Review (a mid-term goal) is the ability to take polls and surveys. You can bet that one of the first questions will have to do with this subject… Until then, feel free to post comments or send emails if you feel so inclined.Comment