Article Watch: Windows Bible Software Coming to OS X

David Lang, CMUG‘s Content Editor, has what I consider to be an excellent piece on the impact that the recently announced Bible software programs and digital libraries might have on the Mac market. It is not an official statement on behalf of Accordance Bible Software, but quite a lucid and, IMO, balanced assessment of the situation.

I have some mixed feelings about this whole issue. As a user, I am excited about the possibility of seeing new Bible packages for Macintosh. Mac users deserve it, the platform deserves it, and more competition should bring about more content, more features, and better prices. What else could we ask for?

On the other hand, as someone who has worked, is working, and (hopefully) will continue to work as a freelance for various Bible software companies and organizations, I can think of a number of potential problems. I’m sure most developers and CEOs have already wrestled with some of these, if not all, but let me jot down a few unconnected thoughts that come to mind — after all, I’m blogging, not writing a thesis ;-)

1. Switching to Mac is much, much more than just porting a product and implementing Apple’s UI standards. It is nothing short of a huge paradigm shift. It is difficult to put in words, but there is definitely a distinctive Mac mindset and lifestyle, if you will. Users will gladly welcome true Mac OS X applications, but will look at any product that smacks of being an “afterthought for the Mac crowd” with great suspicion, to say the least. Please don’t give us “macintoshized” versions of the Windows “older brother.”

2. New content, particularly good content, is always a welcome addition. But content cannot be dissociated from the core search engine and the look and feel (i.e., power, flexibility, ease of use, metaphor followed, etc.) of the retrieval system. By all means, bring more content, but don’t forget to build good, solid applications Mac users can feel proud of and use with their proverbial enthusiasm. Mac OS X has such a great potential for developers, that it would be a shame not to take advantage of it in a creative kind of way.

3. Don’t try to be all things to all people. When programs are aware of what their natural habitat is, resources can be spent more effectively, and they become complementary tools rather than either/or choices. Just like many Windows users frequently run different PC Bible software applications, Mac users can do the same. Be conscious of your strenghts and make the best possible port of those features to the new platform. People will appreciate that.

Now, I know that we haven’t actually seen any prototype yet. I also know that we’ve been promised “100% OS X-native” products, and that it is to be expected that good, efficient, Mac programmers are working hard on it already (they better do if they really want to meet their expected release dates!). But let’s also hope that they take to heart these and other suggestions that have been voiced in different newsgroups and forums in the last couple of days. It would be a pity if such significant investments and good intentions were to prove unsuccessful and short-lived.

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Is Everybody Going Mac or What?

QuickVerse is hoping to launch a Mac OS X version in late May. Apparently, it’ll be available in two different flavors, a “White box” and a “Black box” edition (sort of like Standard and Deluxe, I would guess), retailing at $49.95 and $99.95, respectively.

Brandon Staggs, developer of SwordSearcher, also informs me that he is already working on a Mac version, and he is looking at a tentative release date somewhere around late 2005 or early 2006. It’ll also be a 100% native Mac OS X version. More information will be forthcoming, according to the site’s FAQ. Other considerations aside, this comes to show that Apple is alive and well on planet earth, and also that Mac OS X is a truly great operating system. I can’t wait to see the next iteration (Tiger), soon to be released at an Apple store near you.

Definitely, this is going to be a fun year for Bible software!

UPDATE (April 15): Brandon has a delightful post in his blog, where he shares a little bit about what he calls his “Mac adventures.” This is only the first part. More will follow as he develops the Mac version of SwordSearcher.

UPDATE (June 9): From now on, a new website will host all the upcoming information on SwordSearcher Mac.

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Logos for Macintosh?

This is not an April Fools’ joke :-)

Logos has announced a Macintosh version of their flagship product, Libronix Digital Library System, which will hopefully be released before the end of 2005. More information and a few more links are available at this site.

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PocketBible for WM-based Smartphones

Laridian has launched a new product for Windows Mobile Smartphones. You can read the full story here. More information on the Bible versions available (fifteen, so far) and program features can be found on the newly redesigned website. There is a demo version of the program, and current users of PocketBible qualify for a special discount. Unfortunately, I do not have the right phone to run it on :-(

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Interesting Reviews

H.V.D. Parunak has updated his previous review on Bible study software for Windows. Like the original one, it was also published in JETS late last year. Now, an enlarged version (PDF) of this new review is available here. He focuses on LDLS 2.1a (with Scholar’s Library) and BibleWorks 6.0.011a. Part of his concluding summary reads thus:

The latest revisions have made two powerful software packages even more useful. The changes are clearly in the direction of moving each package toward the other’s main strengths. Lib (Libronix DLS), the leader in
general-purpose digital library functionality, has strengthened its tools for searching the biblical text, in support of detailed exegetical study, while BWk (BibleWorks), the leader in exegetical searching, has integrated a number of collateral resources most likely to be of interest to the exegete. Still, each tool remains dominant in its original area.

Also, the Summer 2004 edition of Emmaus Journal, (pp. 168-171), carried a review of the latest incarnation of Logos’ Scholar’s Library [Scholar's Library Silver Edition (QB)], which can be read here. Rather than writing a “standard” review, Sean T. Lillis presents a number of scenarios where this product could provide a valuable service
to different kinds of users.

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