Note also that, as Rick Brannan rightly points out in the comments, the Bible Word Study guide in Logos 5 now includes a Root section. This means that you can right-click on a word and choose to run this very helpful automated tool and it will display all the roots for you.
First things first. I love the new Clause Search feature in Logos 5. Personally, this is my favorite feature, and a prime example of the potential of Reverse Interlinears and semantic-based databases, two of the key areas that Logos has been focusing on in recent years.
I was asked to post a review on just one condition: to be honest. I think I can do that; I’m used to doing it 🙂
Since there is so much to talk about, and it is quite easy to miss things when you set out to summarize what’s new in a major upgrade like this, I’ve decided to do an experiment and record a video for each of the new or enhanced features that I like the most. My goal is to show you how they work and, in some cases, suggest ideas of what I’d like to see added or improved. This is meant to be a conversation, so feel free to comment, link to a video response or whatever. Interaction is always the best way to learn. You’ll notice that this is an unscripted video, and I want it to be that way in order to capture that conversational approach.
I have always found Syntax Searches in Logos hard to understand, and even harder to build. Perhaps that is the reason why I am so pleased with the new Clause searches. It may well be the case that some of my suggestions/requests can be achieved via syntax queries, but I believe they belong here, and that with clause searching we are just beginning to scratch the surface of some amazing new ways to search the Scriptures. This is exciting stuff!
So here is the video (just under 12 minutes long). I hope it is worth your time!
EDIT(November 5, 2012): Rosie Perera has been kind enough to bring to my attention (see comments below) that even if you don’t specify the subject or the verb-lemma in the Clause Search, the information will be shown in the Analysis view and can be easily sorted out, as you can see in the screenshots below.
Logos Bible Software has just launched version 5 of their Bible software program. It includes some great new features and seven new base packages, from Starter to Portfolio, but above all, it is what version 4 should have been all along.
From a philosophical/theoretical point of view, I would describe Logos 5 as the Semantic Web applied to Bible software (in this sense it is not difficult to see Sean Boisen‘s hand behind it). In other words, the program tries to find meaning in context and establish connections with the vast amount of resources available both in Logos itself and online. What this means in real life is that Logos 5 focuses on the use of pretty sophisticated tools (most of them automated), connecting the information and opening up avenues for further study, and fostering a network of Christian links among its users.
It is quite clear to any outside observer that Logos is out to build a whole ecosystem, but the key is to greatly improve/enhance its flagship product. Logos 5 hopes to be not just a step forward, but more of a significant leap ahead. Does it deliver on its promises? Let’s try to find out.
When I reviewed Bible Analyzer 3.5, I immediately realized this was an application that had great potential. I’m pleased to see that I was right. Version 4 is a lot better (and I mean a lot), plus it is now available for the Mac (OS 10.5 or higher).
BA 4.6 is a native Mac app that installs effortlessly. Follow the usual sequence of dialog boxes, agree to the Software License Agreement and type your OS X user password. That’s it!
At first sight, the layout of the main window has not changed much, but it now includes a highly flexible window management system that allows for a great deal of customization. Everything is done by means of dragging and droping to a different area of the available space, or docking windows to make more room for the Bible window and the task we may happen to be doing at the time. There are many possibilities, including the ability to work with independent floating windows.
There is a Cross-Reference panel that displays all the Bible cross references included in an enhanced version of Treasury of Scripture Knowledge that are relevant to the active verse in the Bible window. Besides that, a brand new Library Hits panel shows all the Dictionaries, Commentaries and Books that include a reference to the active verse (or that verse when it is part of a range, e.g., Rom 4:5-8). A popup window displays the first instance where the verse is referenced, and clicking on the Bible reference opens the tool at that particular place. Users can decide the amount of information they want to see, as well as the category they are most interested in. At any rate, results are returned instantly.
Another enhancement I enjoy very much is the ability to have Commentaries open a whole chapter at a time, and not just the comments on the selected verse.
Resting the cursor on any word, while holding down the Control key, lets us see a preview of the description of that word in the preferred dictionary in a popup. Simply clicking on the word takes us immediately to the dictionary entry.
Again, the Control key can be used while the cursor is on a Bible tab to have the active verse, the previous and the next one shown in a popup.
The same method can be applied to different Dictionaries or Commentaries that include relevant articles (i.e., with the blue or green book icon besides the name) without the need to change tabs, unless, of course, we want to move to a different resource.
Bible Analyzer offers a Daily Devotional with live Bible links, as well as a customizeable Prayer List window.
Images are displayed in their own specialized window.
The Quick Search box located at the top of the main window can be used to look for words (e.g., amazement)
or to enter any Bible reference. The program understands if we have entered a Bible book or a search term.
The look and feel of BA can be customized, and sessions/layouts saved and recalled. There are many other options included in the program that users can also tweak to their heart’s content.
Searching is one of the key points of BA. It’s a real joy to see that almost anything we can think of can be searched quite easily. And one of the reasons it can do so is because of its very extensive Help. It really pays off to refer to it in those cases where we want to do something a bit more complex.
I could mention the Harmony/Parallel Generator, or the excellent AV-Strongs Index (based on an considerably enhaced Strong’s Dictionary), the Word clouds, the Text-to-Speech feature, or how easy it is to access information via the contextual menus. But why take my word for it when you can download it and see it for yourself absolutely free?
If you want more modules, you can always order the Bible Analyzer Suite CD-ROM for $38 plus shipping, or download any of the growing collections of free and premium modules. Most of these modules, while public domain resources, are very reasonably priced.
In sum, this is a very worthwhile program for those Mac (as well as Windows and Linux) users who need to work with English texts and good, solid classic resources, as well as use Strong’s numbers as part of their study of the Bible.
The personal testimony of Michael Surran, author of meBible, got me thinking. There seems to be a common denominator among many Bible software developers: they started to develop their applications for their own use. They felt a need and decided to build something that would meet that need. In some cases, users came as an afterthought, as it were.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. It just means that we are more likely to appreciate the usefulness of an app if we have also perceived and felt as ours the need that gave rise to its development. It also means that the closer we follow the thought patterns of the developer, the more natural and intuitive we’ll find the app. I think this explains, to a certain extent, why “intuitive” is such a subjective and hard-to-define term.
Generally speaking, Bible software is fun. But it gets even better when we come down from the abstract to the mundane, to the nitty-gritty. Who hasn’t had the experience of trying to remember the particular wording of a Bible verse? A good example of this can be seen in a couple of blog posts I’ve read recently.
It all started when David Lang blogged on how to look for a word in a verse in any Bible using Accordance. He talked about locating all the English Bibles that read “endurance” in Hebrews 12:1 (as opposed to the more traditional term “patience”). The question here is twofold: one must be able to search all the available Bibles at once (or the subset of English translations) and also limit the search to a custom range (i.e., Heb 12:1). Accordance, of course, can do both very easily, just as David showed.
Later on, Mark Hoffman explained in his blog how to follow the same process in BibleWorks and Logos. Prompted by a comment, he even added a couple on online solutions to his original post. Not a bad thing to do, particularly when you try to recall the verse while you’re surfing the web.
I don’t know about you, but I find the comparison of the different approaches to the same basic problem very stimulating. There isn’t a right and a wrong way of doing it. They all get the job done. Some programs may be more intuitive, or require less steps, and hence the beauty of comparing the workflow, but at the end of the day they provide the answer to our particular need. Examples like these help us see the usefulness of Bible software. It is a tool meant to make our lives easier.
Incidentally, there are excellent freeware programs that allow us to find a specific word in a verse in any Bible. I just checked with theWord and Bible Analyzer, and both of them offer the ability to search any number of Bible texts and set a custom search range.
In a good-humoured way I show how Dragon Dictate for Mac (version 3) can do what Siri is unable to accomplish: open Accordance, set Flex search as the default, build a search, run it, and see the analysis of the search. All done by voice, without moving a single finger!
All you see is real and doable, but it would not have been possible without the help of scripter extraordinaire Joe Weaks.
Rick Meyers, author of e-Sword, has kindly agreed to answer a few questions in the wake of the release of e-Sword HD for iPad. He’s extremely busy at the moment, so I doubly appreciate his willingness to make himself available to us. What follows is an unedited version of our “conversation.”
Bible Software Review: What led you to create an iOS version of e-Sword and why is it only available for iPads?
Mobile/Tablet O/S Share
Market Share of iOS 63.5%
Market Share of Android 21.0%
Market Share of Java ME 9.3%
Market Share of BlackBerry 1.8%
BSR: I can hear the voice of many Android users asking themselves, We’ll we ever see an Android version of e-Sword?
RM: MySword is pretty good and has access to all of the many user group modules.
BSR: I know quite a few people who get confused with names like e-Sword, MySword and The Sword Project. Is there any relationship between e-Sword and the other two?
RM: You forgot SwordSearcher 🙂 Only our relationship we share in Christ!
BSR: e-Sword has a very large and active user base. In fact, one of its great strengths is the impressive amount of user modules available in every conceivable language. How is all this going to fit with the current “official-modules-only” approach of e-Sword HD?
RM: Version 1.0 cannot have everything! I am currently working with Josh Bond and others to integrate the massive user group module library.
BSR: Given the fact that e-Sword has traditionally been considered freeware, how did you come to the conclusion that you were going to charge $4.99 for the iPad app? Is this a change in your philosophy as a Bible software developer?
RM: e-Sword is still free, so no change there. Everyone who begged me to create an iPad app said they would pay for it. So I made the large investment in development costs to create the app, thus I am holding them to their word 🙂
BSR: Since Bible Software Review has a certain academic edge to it, could we expect to see any Greek and Hebrew resources soon? What about the ability to search Greek and Hebrew?
RM: I already have Greek texts working quite nicely, but there is even more that I wanted to do with the texts so I chose to hold off until the next update.
The popular e-Sword program is now available for iPads. This first release includes a good number of the features available in the desktop edition, but only official modules can be added to the app at this time –although no Greek, Hebrew or foreign language Bibles are yet available–, and costs $4.99. The interface will look quite familiar to long-time e-Sword users.
The following video is a quick and dirty presentation of the program (make sure to watch it in HD!).
Note that the video does not show off all the features available, just a few of them.