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Chances are…it’s in the FAQs!

Every now and again I am asked about things which are clearly answered in the FAQs of BSR. This seems to suggest that most visitors don’t read Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) — just as most users don’t read manuals. But is there anything one can do about this situation? I’m not sure. I guess we must keep reminding people that the FAQ section is there. Besides that, there is another useful and quite often underused feature, you should familiarize yourself with, i.e., the Search box. If you can’t find something in the FAQs, give the web’s Search feature a go. You’ll be surprised to see that even the most minute details are indexed for you. And if you cannot find an answer to your question after all, I’ll make sure it is added to the FAQs for the benefit of future users.

Donations and Publicity

As indicated in the FAQ section, Bible Software Review is now accepting donations and paid advertisements.

It was suggested to me that this would be a nice feature to have. So, If you want to show your appreciation for the service BSR is trying to offer, there is a new PayPal Donate button on the main page. This is my first experience with PayPal, so I hope everything works okay. Let me know if you find any problems with it — even if you don’t donate πŸ˜‰ I have also decided to provide space for Bible software companies to publicize their products and/or services. If you want to advertise with us, please fill this contact form.

Finally, you may have noticed some affiliate program banners. This is another way you can help BSR at no extra cost. If you click on any of the banners and decide you want to buy a given product, the company in question will pay us a small commission based on the amount of your purchase.

As you can see, there are a number of practical things you can do to support the site now. Future enhacements to the website, new content, more regular updates, and a few other things are dependent on this kind of financial support. So please help as you are able. Thank you very much indeed!

Ratings in Reviews

One of the improvements recently introduced consists in rating different aspects of the programs under review (see this one, for example — which I happened to update this morning).

Reviewers are asked to evaluate key areas, following a simple scale from 1 (worst) to 5 (best). These, in turn, are automatically translated into an overall mark (this time on a scale of 1-10)

These are some of the questions one has to keep in mind while assessing the software:

  • User Interface – How does it look like? Does it follow the standars we have come to expect for the platform it is designed for?
  • Ease of Use – Is it intuitive? Does it have a steep learning curve?
  • Help & Support – How good are the documentation and tech support offered? Are there user
  • Customization – Can it be customized according to the needs and tastes of different users?
  • Speed – Is it fast? How does it compare to other similar programs when performing the same tasks?
  • Searching – How flexible and powerful are the searches that can be run?
  • Features – Does it include a good number of features? Are there any outstanding or unique features?
  • Modules – Are there enough modules? How good is the content offered?
  • Original Languages – How well is it suited for those needing to do intensive original-language work and exegesis?
  • Price – What is the value-money ratio like?

I hope this will help you appreciate what we are looking at when we review Bible software here at BSR.

Please Update your Bookmarks

I know it is a little bit of a pain, but well worth the effort in the long run. So, if you happen to have this blog in your blogroll, aggregator, browser bookmarks, etc., please take a minute or two to update your links. For the time being, all links pointing to the older website will be redirected, while the previous blog will stay online for a while. But this situation won’t last forever ;-). Thank you!

Printing Articles and Reviews

One of the enhancements we have recently implemented is the ability to print any article or review available. If you click on “Printable version,” a pop-up window will appear and you will be able to print it. Should there be any notes, they will display as end notes.

For best results, please choose A4 paper size. Otherwise, you may find that graphics and tables appear truncated. This is a very international site, so we have to try to accomodate to standard formats as much as possible.

Welcome Again

Today we are launching our new website, with its associated blog and forums. I hope you enjoy it. It’s been a lot of work, but this is only the first phase. I should now be able to offer not only more features, but also — and most important of all — more content.

Please feel free to use the contact form to report any dead links or features that may not be working as expected, as well as to submit your suggestions. Your feedback is more than welcome, and definitely helps a lot.

I would also like to encourage all of you to register to our forums and to participate as much as you can. I’d love to see us build a true community of worldwide Bible software users. The tools are there. It’s now up to you to make use of them.

As always, thank you very much for your understanding and support.

Update on New Website and Weblog

Well, friends, the all-new BSR website is just a few days away from making its debut :-) I hope you’ll enjoy it.

As for the blog, I have decided to drop Blogger and use Movable Type instead. I have given a lot of thought to these changes, and I believe it’s the best way to go. The downside is that I will probably lose the comments (not sure yet) and my co-blogger (Ken Ristau), but even so there is much to gain.

Movable Type is a very professional publishing platform that includes, among other things, two key feature (to me at least!): the ability to assign each entry to one or more categories, and a very powerful management system.

Light Blogging

I’m sorry about not being able to do much blogging lately. This will all change when the new website and
weblog are in place. You may not notice much difference at first (well, you will if you are a frequent visitor), but most changes are going to affect the nuts and bolts of the site.

I think I’ll adopt a minimalist (no theological pun intended ;-)) approach to the outward design, and focus on making the whole thing more user-friendly and efficient. As usual, I’m having lots of problems trying to make different browsers behave the way they should — my goodness! haven’t they heard about standards? –, but I think we’ll get there in a few more weeks.

In the meantime, thanks again for your patience.

Upcoming Changes

My post on the future of BSR elicited quite a few favorable comments, which I really appreciate very much. Your feedback and support seems to back up most of what I am hoping to accomplish in the months to come.

I have a lot of reviews on my plate (and I mean a lot). Some really terrific programs will be reviewed here during 2006. These are indeed exciting days for Bible software! There is such a plethora of applications that programmers are constantly improving upon earlier versions and features. This does not only apply to commercial packages, but to shareware and freeware programs too. I can only agree wholeheartedly with H. Van Dyke Parunak when he asserts, “Bible software has come a long, long way (…) In comparison with the state of the field 25 years ago, there are no bad decisions today. We would have given our eye teeth for any of the offerings now available.” (“Windows Software for Bible Study,” JETS 46/3 – Sept. 2003, p. 465). We simply cannot afford to approach the Scriptures without some degree of familiarity with the electronic tools available today. To quote Parunak again, “Bible study software has reached the stage of maturity where every student of the Bible should become acquainted with it.” (ibid., p. 495)

Concerning the technical side of BSR, I think the planned improvements will make navigating and searching the site a lot easier. I am not sure when we’ll be ready to implement all of the proposed changes. They are already underway, but I rely heavily on my older son’s PHP and CSS skills, and he is extremely busy at the moment. He has already started the project, but we’ll have to sit down and plan things carefully over the next few weeks. To put it in laymen’s terms, Bible Software Review will turn into a huge collection of interconnected databases, where everything is properly categorized (text, graphics, video, etc.) and indexed. This way, contents will be more flexible, dynamic and customizable, both for me and for you, the visitors. Once all the databases are in place, my son’s programming skills should allow for some on-the-fly graphics, queries, and other cool things we’ve talked about. Expect a few changes in the look and feel of the website too :-)

So, thank you all for your patience. We’ll get there, God willing.