BibleWorks 10 Review, Part One

Welcome to the first of several installments in which I review BibleWorks 10 and show you how I have been employing it in my workflow recently. My primary use of BibleWorks 10 (hereafter referred to simply as BW) is for original language research and course preparation to teach classes at Calvary Chapel Bible College. While BW offers a good selection of additional resources as add on modules, it shines brightest in original language study and exegesis. It’s designed to keep you “focused on the text,” and this it achieves quite well. A brief statement taken from their website summarizes their company vision:

“The purpose of BibleWorks, LLC is to provide pastors, teachers, students, and missionaries with the tools they need to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). There are other companies that exist to do this as well, but BibleWorks comes to this task with some unique differences in approach and philosophy: We exist to serve the church, not to make a profit, and all of our business decisions are made with that in mind. Our goal is to provide a complete package containing the tools most essential for the task of interpreting the Scriptures in the original Greek and Hebrew, and to do it at a price that poor pastors and students can afford.

In this latest iteration, BW has added a new and vastly improved interface compared to its predecessors. Since I’m new to the software and have just entered its userbase at version 10, I can’t speak authoritatively as to the magnitude of its enhancements over earlier releases. But in my initial (and only minimal comparisons), there are obviously well-thought-out changes to the former UI. My first impressions working with the program are very favorable and I’m genuinely excited to have this great software with its excellent array of language tools, available for my studies. While at first one might feel intimidated by the UI and overall capability of BW, it is quite simple to use and very stable. Admittedly, I’ve come across a minor bug in text rendition that occasionally appears, but is recoverable. Crashes have been non-existent.

Four columns (or windows) can be viewed simultaneously, allowing users a secondary analysis pane.

Four columns (or windows) can be viewed simultaneously, allowing users a secondary analysis pane.

The above screenshot (click it and all images to enlarge) is version 10’s new user interface, showing the optional, newly designed fourth window. More correctly, it is called the “Secondary Analysis Window.” The name is indicative of its primary purpose, analyzing the text through its many research tools, all of which are linked to the biblical text you are viewing. At the time of writing, I’m still in the learning curve of where to find things, precisely what certain icons represent and, what the more complex search commands are. But I’m able to navigate quite well for what I need to do. With a few basic instructions, one can dive in and get to work quickly. And yes, that is the Leningrad Codex you see in high resolution images above, tagged with verse references for searching  or scrolling in sync with accompanying Old Testament texts. Reference markers are hyperlinked for immediate viewing of user-defined versions in a popover. This is a very valuable resource, implemented well.

First in line below, I cover my use of BW for basic textual reference, searching and analysis.

This view is for the basic stage of proofing my teaching notes for class

This view is for the basic stage of proofing my teaching notes for class

In the screenshot above, I display only two of four possible windows. The “Search” window  is collapsed because at this point of my work, I don’t need to search. If I needed to, I could still search while it is collapsed (more on that below). And by the way, searches are extremely fast with virtually no measurable wait time. Each window column can remain open or be collapsed laterally, based on user preference of tool usage with a simple click of the mouse. This is a unique feature that I like a lot, because collapsing them does not close or remove the active content in them. With just the main “Browse” and “Analysis” windows, I’m able to view my target text and essential research tools while leaving room on my 14 inch laptop to snap my class notes adjacent to them. This useful “snapping” capability, by the way, is one of my favorite features of the modern Windows UI. Under normal circumstances, one would probably leave 3 or even 4 window columns open in BW.

The two-window layout is ideal for the simple proofing stage of my class notes where I verify important textual issues or answer any remaining exegetical questions by way of the many included lexicons and grammars that are conveniently linked to the text at hand. Entries from all lexicons containing the word of interest, or grammars that mention the verses in my browse window or grammatical concept, appear and update accordingly in the analysis window. Clicking on the truncated result opens the respective module directly to the lexeme or article . It couldn’t be more convenient or faster, and I absolutely love this unique feature. I haven’t seen it implemented like this in any other Bible software. See below.

Lexicon entry accessed via the Resource Window

Lexicon entry accessed via the Resource Window

Grammar article accessed via the Resource Window

Grammar article accessed via the Resource Window

I do this while making modifications to my notes directly in Microsoft Word, snapped to the right of BW.  Even when the “Search” pane is closed in BW, a simple keyboard shortcut allows the user to enter search commands or navigate to new passages quickly and without leaving the layout you see above. Simply hit the “Esc” key to prompt BW for your command. Next, type your reference (Gen 31, for example), and hit “Enter.” The new verse location will appear in the “Browse” pane. Not having to physically enter my cursor into the search pane allows me to maintain my layout the way I need it while moving along quickly and smoothly in my workflow. I do much more with BW for my study needs, but future installments will cover that.


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