I want to bring this review to a close by discussing my particular angle on the question of Bible software. It’s no secret that the school where I teach has a strong relationship with Logos. We supply a copy of Logos Bible Software with a custom student package to every student upon matriculation, and when students graduate the license becomes theirs to keep. We even have a Logos rep who works from our Dallas campus. I have worked with him to define what we skills we want students to learn with Logos, to provide training for students, and to help faculty integrate Logos into the classroom. It’s also no secret that many faculty on our campus love Accordance Bible Software. Several faculty still use and tout Accordance regularly. It’s also no secret that I have an extensive history with BibleWorks, working for them as a trainer for a number of years. I personally maintain my licenses for all three of the major vendors in this space on the one hand because I personally benefit from having each one, as they each have strengths and weaknesses, and so I can help those who have questions about which is best for their situation. Having said all that, let me end this review with two discussions. First I want to comment on BibleWorks relative to Logos and Accordance in some particular areas, and then I want to summarize my thoughts about BibleWorks 10 as a whole.
Comparing the major programs to one another frankly comes down to three central issues: philosophy, hardware, and design. I have always been convinced that each program—Logos, BibleWorks, Accordance—has particular strengths because of their basic philosophy of function. In general I would say Logos excels in the realm of library, with Accordance catching up a great deal lately. The depth of available resources and how those can be readily accessed and searched makes it stand out. BibleWorks and Accordance excel in the realm of searching. They each stand out for their ability to readily search the biblical texts, specifically with the original languages. (2) The question of hardware used to be more cut and dried. None of the major vendors was cross-platform, so PC users would choose between Logos and BibleWorks, and Mac users would use Accordance. Recent developments have removed the hardware restriction, as each program is now fully cross platform in the desktop/laptop space. Logos was the first to cross that divide, so for a number of years I would steer PC users to Logos and BibleWorks and Mac users to Logos and Accordance. The equation is different today since all three programs can be used on either a PC or Mac. This situation is better for the end user, in my opinion, as you now have direct competition between the programs on a fairly level playing field. So no matter the hardware platform you have adopted, you can benefit from any of the programs. (3) The question of design in my opinion is somewhat prejudicial and based on factors beyond the specific design of any the programs. Accordance has always had elegant and useful design because it has up until the last few years been a program developed exclusively on the Mac which has a particularly well-regarded design aesthetic. The developers of Accordance have always benefitted from their platform. On the other hand, BibleWorks has always been a Windows program, which also has a particular design aesthetic. It is cross-platform now, but through various emulation techniques; when it runs, you can still readily see Windows as the foundation. These different aesthetics in my opinion do not materially change either program’s functionality. When BibleWorks and Accordance are each searching the same resource, the results will be exactly the same. This means that the programs are much more similar in functionality and what the user can accomplish with them than they used to be. Even so, I still argue that my original assessment of the general strength of each program holds. Logos still excels with its depth of library, and BibleWorks and Accordance still excel in their ability to search the biblical text. So my tentative suggestion to users is still the same as before: Plan to use two programs, Logos on the one hand and BibleWorks or Accordance on the other.
The bottom line regarding BibleWorks is that it has always been a strong program. It has great depth right out of the box, and its speed makes any task quick and effortless. Once the user gets past the learning curve of the command line, anything the user needs to do—changing settings, executing searches, opening resources—can be done quickly and easily. With some additional purchases, technical uses can acquire several standard resources used regularly in biblical exegesis, making BibleWorks a powerhouse for students and teachers. No, it is not the prettiest option available, and its legacy development on the Windows platform creates some particular ways of doing things that newer users might find a little challenging. But even with these minor annoyances, BibleWorks 10 gets the job done and will prove helpful to any user.
Case in point: Recently in a NT department meeting we were discussing a technical work on hermeneutics, Anthony Thiselton’s 2009 text unsurprisingly titled Hermeneutics. A few of us had not read the text yet, so on the spot we decided to purchase it. Logos has this text available for purchase. Accordance does as well, but only as part of a set. ↩
I honestly feel that all these programs are good and worth the money they cost. It’s frankly quite easy to state that one is the best without being able to explain why or without truly understanding the value of each program, so I’ve tried to get past that facile response. It is my hope that I’ve been fair in my assessment and comparison, so if you think I’ve missed something please let me know. I know people at each company well, and they all are doing their level best to make great software to benefit users. The Bible software category is mature, but there is a lot of room for growth, so I truly wish each company good results in their work. ↩