Saturday, October 27, 2012

Bibleworks 8 review: The Puritan’s package

I recently realized to my horror that I wrote a review for Bibleworks 8 two years ago, and never posted it to my blog! Because my upgrade to Bibleworks 8 was given to me free of charge by Bibleworks, I feel that although my review is out of date, it is only fair that I do finally put this review online. I have also now purchased an upgrade to Bibleworks 9 so that I can review that too:

I had decided to not upgrade from BW7 to 8, for financial reasons, but then Bibleworks very kindly sent me a review copy. So, I’m writing this review now to help those who are considering whether its worth upgrading to BW8.

One of the key things BW8 has done is to make some of the features of BW7 more accessible. I have called this version, the Puritan’s package, because this makes interpreting scripture with scripture more accessible than ever before.

Upgrading from BW7 was not as easy as I would have liked. There is no upgrade option, instead I had to uninstall BW7, and then install BW8 from scratch. Having done this, I needed to enter an activation code for BW8, and then new activation codes for all the modules I had previously purchased, plus Metzger now needed a code (Metzger is no longer free, except to BW7 upgraders).  The problem here was that Bibleworks had sent me the new activation codes for my previously purchased modules but not for Metzger. Bibleworks staff were swamped with the new release, and I had to wait a few days to be sent the new code. I also had to manually enter all my external links from BW7, and manually copy the extra databases I had collected over the last 2 years. I understand completely why BW implemented new activation codes (piracy), but they obviously weren’t ready for the high demand of this release. I also think a smoother way to upgrade would be nice.

What’s lost from BW7:
Some of the modules that were free in BW7, now have to be purchased: Metzger’s Textual commentary, Barclay’s Lexicon, and Lust-Eynikel-Hauspie’s Septuagint Lexicon. However there are free (activation codes are sent via email) for those upgrading from BW7.
Robertson’s Word Pictures is no longer included due to licensing issues, but I have this in e-Sword, so I’m not that bothered by this. Mark Futato’s “Basic Hebrew for Bible Study” is also gone.

What’s new in BW8:

Browse tab:
One of the previous weaknesses of BW7, was that when you viewed the browse window in multiple-version mode, you could not see the context (or cotext) of the verse. The way around this was to toggle into single-version mode, and scroll up a few verses, but this was frustrating when under time pressure such as in a debate. Now in BW8 the browse tab will display the whole passage in one version on the right of the screen, whilst you have multiple versions displayed in the browse window (in the centre of the screen). The browse tab will start the text 2 verses before the verse in the browse window, and will highlight the browse window verse in blue. Furthermore, you can put the browse tab in any version you want. This morning in my Bible reading, I put the BGT Greek text in the browse window, with the NET Bible (with notes) in the browse tab. Previously I had used Logos for this kind of set up, but I prefer doing this now in BW8. During sermon preparation, I have found the browse feature to be very useful. Before, when I was searching for how a word was used, it would take too long to check the context of each verse, now that is very easily done. This was one of the biggest appeals to me to upgrade.

Context tab:
This tab will display a frequency list of the words used in the current book, pericope and chapter. For example today I was studying Philippians 1:27 which contains the word euangeliou, and at a glance in the I could see that Philippians has 6 instances of euangeliou, 2 instances of euanglion, and 1 instance of euangeliw. This is also a great way of finding cognates, for example 1:27 containts the verb politeuesthe, and by glancing at the book context (which I listed in alphabetical order) I can easily spot the cognate word politeuma. When I click on this it takes me straight to Phil 3:20. There is also a chapter context window (bottom right), but this is limited due to the sometimes bizarre nature of chapter division of the Bible (which were not inspired). I would rather have had a version context window (but this can be obtained by clicking on the Words tab).  Under BW7, you could have found out all this information by using  the word list manager, but it would have taken longer, and I found it quite fiddly. Now in BW8 you can see this information at a glance without any knowledge of the word list manager. This is a tool that I will probably use much more, now that it is so accessible.

Words tab:
Now when you search on a word, the words tab will show you the following:
1) a frequency word list of the version (in alphabetical listing) so that you can see how often the word you searched for is used.
2) A word list for the current search results then shows the most commonly used words found in the search, showing you if there are significant words that repeat alongside the word you searched for.
3) The wildcard expansion list will gives lists of any of the wildcard expansions made during the search.
These features are useful and welcomed, but personally they would not have made me want to upgrade.

Search Statistics:
The bar chart search statistics is now displayed in their own tab on the right of the screen. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with the BW7 way of displaying these results, but again the BW8 makes them even more accessible.

Cross references tab:
The puritans would live this, and I do too. You now have a whole fat tab available for cross references. These can be easily changed (via a pull down menu) to a number of different systems including Thompson Chain, TSK, Torrey’s, the Biographical Bible (to see all the references to Bible names). When these cross references are clicked on, they open in the browse window. If you right click on them, they can be opened in their own window. You can then open up any of those cross references in a new window. This means you can go on a wonderful journey of looking at related verses.

Bibleworks 8 is very useful software for using Scripture to interpret Scripture – hence I have called it, ‘The Puritan’s Package’