Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Recommended Software: BibleWorks 7 (and Maps)

One of the best Bible software programs for the PC is BibleWorks 7.  If you're only interested in reading the Bible and doing simple searches, this program is more than you need.  But those who know, or plan to learn, the original languages will find a wealth of capabilities available at lightning speed.  The powerful "Copy Center" makes it fast and easy to copy and paste multiple translations - any number, any versions - in a single click.  This would have saved me a lot of time on a recent study.  The right-click context menus are also easy to use.  If you're still learning Greek and Hebrew (or haven't started yet), the built-in flashcard module has plenty of options which makes it easy to quiz yourself.  At $350, the program is not inexpensive, but browsing through the list of works included in the copyright list will make you wonder how the software can cost so little.

Version 7 added a map module, and BibleWorks sent me a review copy of the program to evaluate this new feature.  I love the integration of the map module; simply right-click on a site name and choose "Lookup in BibleWorks Maps" to get a list of relevant maps to open.  Teachers will find this a handy way to access a map while in the middle of a course without having to use other software.  The module includes a variety of terrains that you can load, including Landsat data, and some are more aesthetically pleasing than others.  Unfortunately, the map data has significant shortcomings; it reminds me more of a beta program.  BibleWorks has a major revision of the map module underway which I expect will solve many of the labeling problems.  One problem that exists with both the map module and the program in general is that while the documentation is extensive, the features are not always intuitive.  This means the happiest user will be the one who reads first and plays second.  If you never read any of the documentation, you'll probably miss many of the features and spend too much time in frustration.  Would I recommend the program?  Absolutely.  Would I recommend its purchase primarily for the map module?  Not yet.  With their policy of free upgrades within a version, any existing user will be able to download all of the updates as they are released.

bibleworks_maps 
Screenshot of Galilee area, with overlays turned on for 4 gospels

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