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BibleWorks 10: Not quite there yet

My latest full review of BibleWorks (BW) was based on version 8. I had quite a few good things to say about it, but also expressed some reservations about two main issues: tool integration and search syntax. After two main updates I am a bit disappointed to see that most of the cons I mentioned some years ago have not been addressed. Evidently, each company follows their own roadmap. I just happen to think they would do much better if they would focus on some of what I consider to be weaknesses of the program.

1. Tool integration. First off, BW is not a digital library. In fact, they advice customers to be cautios about building large digital libraries. On the other hand, it is difficult to swim against the tide, so BW provides two ways to incorporate ebooks into the program. They have partnered with WORDsearch in order to make some of their titles available to BW users and, as of version 10, an epub reader is included as part of the package. Maybe having resources in .CHM format (Compiled HTML file) was a safe bet five or ten years ago, but I do not think that is the case anymore. The inclusion of an epub reader seems to be a way to explore other standards. The problem is that all these e-texts are a bit of an afterthought, and result in a very poor integration with the rest of the program. Not only that. Each new format comes with a different search syntax, which adds to the complexity of a program that already has a pretty steep learning curve.

2. Search syntax. BW is very powerful, but search syntax is inconsistent across the program. There are at least five different ways to search (CHM files, ebooks, Command Line, Graphical Search Engine and Word List Manager). CHM and epub files have a similar search syntax, though not exactly the same. GSE uses Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT…), but the CL uses a different approach altogether, while the WLM is similar to the CL but not quite the same.

The new UI in BW 10 is not really that new, but this is always debatable. However, I really feel that BW should rethink the whole matter of tool integration and search syntax. This may mean going back to the drawing board in some areas, but at the end of the day it may be worthwhile. As it is now, I find BW quite cluttered and confusing. I would hate to see such a good program lag behind some of the other big players in the field.