BibleWorks 10 - Common Program Use

When opening the program for the first time, BibleWorks organizes itself into a three-paned, left-to-right arrangement. This is a fundamental paradigm which reflects the philosophy and design of the program. The program is organized on the assumption that most of the time the user will input a command to display text or execute a search, read those results as a whole, and then dive into more exact analysis. The panes are designed with those functions in mind. The left-most pane allows for input which displays results. These results are then read within the middle pane. Detailed analysis of what is read then takes place in the right-most pane. It is a left to right movement from input to analysis. Of course this movement from input to analysis is not sacrosanct; the end user may have any number of things they wish to do in the software when they open it, and BibleWorks can be accessed and used profitably in any number of ways. But this arrangement explains the program’s central design philosophy and in some ways when understood enables better use of what BibleWorks has to offer.

Default program layout

Default program layout

The left-most pane is called the Search Window. It contains the command line, any search results in a list below the command line, and various ways to access program features and modify behavior. The command line acts as the brains of the outfit, so to speak. It is where the vast majority of interaction with the program will take place for the majority of users. It can feel off-putting at first because it has a little bit of a learning curve, but the program reacts quickly to it and when learned well using the command line makes working with BibleWorks easy and even fun. When I taught BibleWorks classes, a vast majority of my tips and tricks were about using the command line to the best effect. For example, from the Command Line the can pick a particular version to search, set a limit on the search, display additional texts to compare to the search version, and then execute the search. Taking time to learn its shortcuts will greatly benefit the user in the long run. 

Search Window

Search Window

The middle pane is called the Browse Window. This pane displays whatever texts the user desires: English Bible translations, Greek or Hebrew texts, Apostolic Fathers, etc. Whatever text BibleWorks has in its arsenal, here is where that text will be displayed. The user can display any texts in any order and move easily from displaying a single verse (from a search, for example) to displaying longer sections of text. Because of this flexibility the Browse Window can accommodate reading of particular verses for analysis or longer sections of text for synthesis.

Browse Window

Browse Window

The right pane is the Analysis Window. This window is devoted to technical information which helps the reader analyze the text displayed in the Browse Window. This is where a lot of the magic happens. All kinds of information can be displayed here: text critical, lexical, grammatical, contextual, resources related notes, etc. The tabs at the top of the Analysis Window control which information is displayed. The Analysis tab is the one I use the most often. It contains morphological and lexical data, displaying the lexicons I have chosen as the default for Greek and Hebrew. A close second is the Stats tab. This displays statistical information related to the last search done, for example, how many times the particular word appears in each book of the Bible. The Notes tab is also very useful. BibleWorks has built into their system a very functional rich-text editor. The Notes tab makes use of that editor to allow the user to take notes on chapters or verses of the Bible. These notes are stored as rich-text files, they can be located wherever the user desires for backup purposes, and they will always be connected to the verse reference, so they will display no matter which version the user is reading.

Analysis Window

Analysis Window

As a whole, this arrangement is very helpful to the end user. Whenever BibleWorks opens, the program is automatically configured to help you do immediately what most of us do every time we study the Bible: find a particular Scripture, read it in the version(s) of our choosing, and find related information to help us understand what we are reading. In a sense the work table is always set for the most common tasks, which is a time saver. The pain points of this arrangement primarily relate to the command line and the Analysis Window. The command line does have a learning curve which can be off putting, but from experience I can say that just a little time invested here will bear good fruit. The Analysis Window is very busy—lots of options, each with lots of data—which means it can take a while before you decide which information is best for you to display most often. In prior iterations of the program you could only have one Analysis Window open at a time. In v. 10 you can display a secondary Analysis Window, which enables you to have two Analysis tabs open at the same time, for example, the Analysis tab and the Notes tab. This increases the options but can be limiting because of the restrictions imposed by screen real estate.

Analysis Window split into two panes

Analysis Window split into two panes