One thing I have always appreciated about BibleWorks is their desire to ship the program to users with as robust a library as possible while maintaining a reasonable cost for their program. Practically this means three things for the customer. First, the customer gets a robust program out of the box which is capable of very exact, technical work in the biblical text. This is a great benefit for those who are relatively new to biblical studies, like first or second year college or seminary students. Right out of the box BibleWorks can help the user dive into Greek and Hebrew like a pro. Second, this means that compared to other software programs, BibleWorks customers will usually pay more to acquire the program and less down the road. Whether this is good for the customer depends on the situation. The problem I have seen historically is that usually those who are considering BibleWorks, the aforementioned first and second year students, have to watch their money more closely than others. So this creates reticence to purchase BibleWorks over other programs but may prove to be a better strategy in the long run, akin to buying in bulk when prices are low. Third, as with all programs of this type but perhaps more so with BibleWorks, there are numerous resources in the library which the end user might never use. Easily 90% of the resources which ship with BibleWorks the average student of biblical studies will never use, for example, numerous Bible versions in different languages. This is not to say that these language resources do not have value for some; it’s simply to say from my vantage point as a teacher of biblical studies in North America for most students there is some impression of resource bloat. Many would prefer a version with fewer resources, targeted for what they need, at a lower cost.
In tandem with this situation out of the box, however, is the pesky situation of which additional modules to purchase. As with all vendors in this space, BibleWorks offers many modules for purchase which can be added to the software. Because of their business and ministry philosophy, for a number of years BibleWorks resisted this approach. I assume that market forces, though, made them relent. So they have developed a substantial offering of add-on modules. Through their partnership with WordSearch, a LifeWay division, they now offer even more, including many commentary sets and popular Bible reference tools. The problem the new user will face no matter which program they acquire is that certain tools considered mandatory in the biblical studies space, such as the Hebrew lexicon HALOT and the Greek lexicon BDAG, are not included in the base package and must be purchased additionally. This is a pain point for all users, as the publishers are able to mandate fairly high prices for these tools and no other vendor is able to include them in a base package, but it is a primary pain point for BibleWorks users because they are paying slightly more at the front end for their base package anyway. I do not think that this should scare anyone away from BibleWorks, but it does mean there is a slightly higher financial bar for entry with BibleWorks than with other vendors.
A related question to address at this point is the platform on which the user will run BibleWorks. It was not too long ago in the computing world that one had to make a choice between Mac or PC, and this was a very stark choice when Bible software was in the mix. I remember well when BibleWorks and Logos ran only on Windows and Accordance ran only on a Mac. Those days are long gone. All three of the big players in this space run on both Macs and PCs. Logos and Accordance have native apps for both platforms. The situation with BibleWorks is a little more complex. The Mac user who wants to run BibleWorks has to decide between three methods: native, emulation, or dual boot. Each has its pros and cons. The native program is not really native; it is a Mac port running on WINE, which is specialized computer tool which enables Windows programs to run on Macs. The plus is there is nothing additional to install; the minus is the interface looks a little odd and the program doesn’t have 100% functionality. The emulation option requires using emulation software like Parallels or VMWare Fusion plus a Windows installation. The minus is that there is additional cost and overhead to acquire and set up this option. The plus is that the program runs perfectly and can integrate without issue into a Mac operating environment. The dual boot option as with emulation requires a Windows license, but the biggest problem is the dual boot environment means you essentially run your Mac as a Windows computer instead of as a Mac. With emulation both environments are active at the same time; with dual boot they are not. This drawback means you cannot copy and paste between BibleWorks and Mac applications when using dual boot. I have tried the native and emulation routes and far prefer the emulation. To me it is worth the extra cost and overhead to have a fully functional version of the program that integrates perfectly with my Mac software. Plus I have a working copy of Windows which helps me as I teach students with all different platforms. My only experience with emulation software is Parallels, but it has been entirely good. In my experience, Parallels functions well and provides a good solution out of the box. So despite the extra overhead, my choice to run BibleWorks in emulation has proven to be fine for me personally, and it allows me to help others who are not on the Mac platform, which is a plus as a professor.
Installation presents no problems or concerns, as the process is similar to any other program. With version 10 the program now ships on a thumb drive, which is a nice touch. I recommend that the user manually force a check for updates after install to ensure that the most recent updates and patches are applied. This can be done easily through Help | Check for Updates. Often the user is asked to pick which updates they would like to install; my recommendation is that you always select all updates, even for modules which you do not use regularly. This will ensure that all features of the program are updated.
This ubiquity is growing in the mobile world as well, but it is not total. Logos is the best in this space, running on iOS and Android. Accordance runs on iOS, reflecting its strong commitment to the Apple platform, but I would assume other mobile versions are in the works. BibleWorks can run on any Windows tablet, distinguishing itself by bringing its full functionality to that platform while other players offer stripped down functionality. ↩