I reviewed an older version of SwordSearcher some years ago, and although many things have been improved since then, the basic philosophy of the program has remained the same (and I say this as a compliment). It seems to me that its developer, Brandon Staggs, has decided to stick to his original plan. SwordSearcher continues to offer a good deal of classic public domain resources and Bibles, centered around the King James Version (see full contents list here). The user interface is now more sophisticated, but still clean and simple to use. One of the new features of version 7 is a smart search box that displays hints as you type. This allows users to type Bible references, topics and searches very easily, all in a single centralized text box. I am pretty sure that many (most?) users will very seldom need to dig deeper to kick-start their Bible study, although the current search capabilities of the program are now very advanced and include Boolean, Proximity, String and Regular Expression searches.
Special texts tagged with Strong’s numbers (like KJV and Spanish Reina-Valera 1909) can be used for original language searches. These are somewhat limited, but let us keep in mind that SwordSearcher is not designed for heavy-duty Hebrew and Greek work. It is, however, a very powerful tool to perform English-based research around the biblical text. This is a direct result of the combination of a thorough indexing and cross-referencing work, robust search engine and flexible StudyClick feature, a clever customizable shortcut that lets the user choose their preferred study workflow out of a good number of options (available via the File – Preferences and Settings… menu).
SwordSearcher 7 adds a few new titles to the Library of available works, like McClintock & Strong Cyclopedia, Spurgeon’s Park Street and Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Richard Watson’s Biblical and Theological Dictionary, and John Trapp’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. But “more” can only mean “better” when all the Books, Commentaries and Dictionaries are heavily linked to the Bible text and can be readily found when they are relevant to the passage or topic in question. This is what the Verse Guide does.
All in all, I think Brandon knows very well what SwordSearcher users expect from the program. Every new release is another step in the right direction. Had this not been the case, it wouldn’t be around after all this time. SwordSearcher is proof that in the middle of some fierce competition, there is still room for reasonably-priced shareware Bible programs that do not go out of their way to become a one-fits-all solution, but rather cater to the needs of those who simply want to be efficient in their Bible study and make extensive use of the English King James Version. If that’s what you need, that’s what you get with SwordSearcher.
It is really quite amazing how much Bible software has improved in a relatively short time. Do you have any pictures of your old 5.25″ or 3.5″ floppy disks, or early CD-ROMs that you’d like to share along with a short comment? Feel free to send them along.
The floppy disks (left) are SwordSearcher 2.0 for DOS. The other picture (right) is of early SwordSearcher CDs: (from left to right) SwordSearcher 95 (version 3.0), and SwordSearcher 4.0, SwordSearcher 3.3. Thanks to Brandon Staggs for sending the info (BTW, you might want to read about the history of SwordSearcher).