Bible Software ?

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I'm researching the different Bible software programs that are available, and am looking for input from anyone that has used Bible soft, Logos, Nelson, Parsons, or other programs. I welcome input from company reps. What I've found so far; Everyone says theirs is the best but has no real idea what the others can do! Any real life knowledge, technical and/or practical is welcome! Thank you,

-- Randall Goldsmith (reson2@prodigy.net), November 05, 1998

Answers

Randall,

One of the first issues is how deeply you need to get into the original grammar of the Greek & Hebrew. This means being able to search original Greek & Hebrew verbs in tense/voice/mood and etc. Logos/Bibleworks and Gramcord are the heavyweights on this aspect. Parsons recently introduced an add on Greek Package. Biblesoft does give you access to many language tools that discuss aspects of the original languages in specific verses, but you cant search by tense voice & mood in the original languages.

Gramcord we dont show on our site, many different configurations. But we do discount, just call for quote. Same for any other package you dont find on our site.

Biblesoft 3.0 will offer authoring tools, which will enable anyone to publish to Biblesoft format. There is also talk of a text converter which will allow you to take anyones electronic book (step, logos, sage etc.) and convert it for your use in Biblesoft format.

Hope that helps

Barry

-- Barry Steinman (Barry@DiscountChristian.com), November 06, 1998.


Randall & all,

I think the Rights battle is an interesting focus. At this point, this is how I see things: please correct me if I am wrong:

Logos Library System: publishers must pay to publish to that standard

STEP: I don't believe that anyone that wants to can use it. Isn't there fees to pay. Or can only the publishers that are on board use it??

What about self publishers, people that want to go straight to electronic, not print, and do not have a big publisher behind them.

It is my understanding that Biblesoft 3.0 will be an open format, they will give away authoring tools. So anyone can self publish. If so, it appears no one else is doing that.

Could it end up being the windows/macintosh battle all over again. And the open free format will win, the prioprietary will suffer.

But.... I don't know if mainline publishers will want to publish to an open format. I would think they like the propietary format, that costs to publish,.. to discourage self publishing.

But I thought the future of the web is self publishing.

Anyone know if Logos is going to release authoring tools??

Barry

-- Barry Steinman (Barry@DiscountChristian.com), November 11, 1998.


I just checked out the STEP site at http://www.bsisg.com/pubinfo.htm. The cost to publish to their standard seems prohibitive $4000+++. Especially in the light of the fact that Biblesoft will be releasing authoring tools to every purchaser of their version 3.0 when it is released next year.

I guess to me that sounds like a much more open standard. Or am I missing something.

Barry

-- Barry Steinman (Barry@DiscountChristian.com), November 12, 1998.


Tom,

Good idea. Since it was your idea, go for it. Why don't you repost your message under a new question/thread subject heading as you suggested.

Tom please also clarify your statement about STEP:

"They do say that if you want to, you can get the specs & write your own software; again just another indicator that they view theirs as a software business, not a publishing business."

Are you saying that anyone can publish books to STEP for free fi they want get the specs. Or are you saying anyone can write software to use STEP, and the specs are free? When I looked at the site, it looked like minimum price was $4000+++ just to get started to publish a book in STEP

Barry

-- Barry Steinman (Barry@DiscountChristian.com), November 12, 1998.


Randall, it depends on what you want to do. Daily study, with lots of commentaries? Get Biblesoft's PC Study Bible. It has many commentaries, dictionaries, an interlinear Hebrew/Greek feature. etc. and I think it has the most bang for the buck. Do you want a "Christian Encarta", i.e. a bookshelf full of great works? Logos/Nelson is the solution. A caveat or two on them: I've found that the works aren't as tightly integrated as with PCSB. In other words, a Logos book can be linked to your favorite Bible translation, but the link is not preserved between sessions ("power" Logos users, please correct me if I'm wrong!) Logos unlocks are expensive, too-- they cost what the printed book actually costs, unless you buy them in groups of 5, in which case Logos will give you a 25% discount. Be sure you want them, though--you cannot "return" them! Hermeneutika's BibleWorks is for hardcore language types; it comes with Strong's/Englishman's, Robertson's, Louw-Nida, and a few other works like that. Its greatest strength, though, is language--it has very powerful (and fast!) searching on words, phrases, morphology, etc. and also comes with a number of foreign-language Bibles. I don't know Greek well at all, so I mainly use it to find things fast--and then I look at the verse with my Logos collection of commentaries! As for Quickverse, it is similar to Logos in its collection of works, which I don't believe are linked (I only have the freeware KJV translation). It has the usual suspects, not nearly as many as Logos. Word Search, from NAVPress, is another choice.

Ease of use: PCSB has links to all its reference works, so no matter where you are in the Bible, you can instantly bring up any reference work that has an entry for that verse. It even works on their maps! Or, if you're in, say, Matthew Henry, you can display a Bible window to show verses or cross-references in his text. Searching isn't so impressive, though; no wildcards. Logos/Nelson is more complicated to use, but has the ability to search through your whole collection or any subset you desire, and is the only package that can find a reference, e.g. Paul referring to a verse in Malachi without actually quoting it. Logos/Nelson also has the most add-ons, a couple hundred at last count, AND they're having a terrific holiday sale! Bibleworks has a blazing search engine but few reference works. Quickverse also has a nice search engine and is about on a par with Logos in ease of use.

I hope this helps. Feel free to contact me offline. Ken

-- Ken Rubin (ken_rubin@mail.crc.com), November 05, 1998.



Randall,

Your question is difficult to answer because of how broad it is. I own and use almost everything out there: Biblesoft, Logos (4), Quickverse, NavPress, Hermeneutika, Sage (Ages), et al.

It entirely depends on your person goals. If Bible study is it, it is very difficult to do better than PC Study Bible - it's a great value and very easy to use. It does not take a "computer geek" to figure it out. No other product is as seemless - i.e., integrated from reference work to reference work.

My experience with Logos is this: difficult learning curve, buggy Hebrew text, complicated search engine, expensive BUT it has a the largest variety of texts to acquire.

Quickverse: the Bible Study product is ok and growing. Originally designed all the modules to work independantly. They're the "fast food" of Bible Study programs. I highly recommend their Hebrew Tutor and Greek Tutor as well as their Church Managment program, however.

Thomas Nelson uses Logos' search engine - with the same frustrations: difficult to use. It just depends on whether you want those texts.

NavPress has come closest to copying Biblesoft's integration and has a larger variety of texts. Interface is ok, less intuitive.

Sage/Ages is Adobe Acrobat text. Good value if all you want is the texts - and lots and lots and lots of them (usually, public domain material).

If you have specific questions, please them... they're easier to answer.

-- Todd Kotila (thefox@foxinternet.com), November 05, 1998.


I have PC Study Bible, Logos, QuickVerse and WordSearch. I personally do not care for PC Study Bible although many people do. I find that WordSearch is by far the best interface for my studies. Being STEP compatible, it can read books produced by Parsons, Kirkbride, Zondervan to name a few. The most recent version 5.0 is very user friendly. Right mouse button allows for one click searches.

PC Study bible does not allow for printing, highlighting one word, minimal usage of the right mouse button, does not use a standard interface. They do have a nice Interlinear. Personally I would go with a STEP compatible product. For more information and reviews on STEP go to:

http://www.swcp.com/~kfapa/step.html

Good luck.

-- John Fidel (kfapa@swcp.com), November 06, 1998.


Thank you all for your excellent responses! I'll ask one question before I go look into STEP for myself, that is, Did I hear that PCSB 3.0 (Joshua) may be STEP compliant?

-- Randall Goldsmith (reson2@prodigy.net), November 06, 1998.

OK, I read the whole STEP story, It is good to hear the whole story from the source, Now I'm more curious if PCSB 3.0 is using it! Randall

-- Randall Goldsmith (reson2@prodigy.net), November 06, 1998.

I was on the original beta team for Joshua 3.0. It is not STEP and as far as I know the development of the upgrade is way behind schedule. I wish it was STEP. STEP is great for customers. You can uses several different programs, but don't have to buy all the books over and over again. WordSearch 5 Disciples Library is a fantastic product, especially with talking Strongs and the NT Interlinear included. That would be my recommendation.

John Fidel

-- John Fidel (kfapa@swcp.com), November 06, 1998.



John, Thank you for your input, do you have a contact #, or wed site address for Wordsearch?

-- Randall Goldsmith (reson2@prodigy.net), November 06, 1998.

Buy the software here, it is about $100 less. I have a link from my website to all the STEP companies. Go to WordSearch's site for more information about the libraries ect.

Glad to be of help.

John Fidel

-- John Fidel (kfapa@swcp.com), November 06, 1998.


Biblesoft is behind on their 3.0 version (project name Joshua), by at least a year. However, I understand it is being delivered within 90 days I do not think that it will technically be STEP compatible according to the STEP format. My understanding is that v.3.0 employs a different technology that allows ANYONE to take ANY electronic document and run it with PC Study Bible. This means that if you have your own notes or teaching aides (e.g. in a MS Word.doc) you could AUTOMATICALLY compile it to run as a cross-referenced resource in v.3.0 (i.e. it would have its own icon and be incorporated just like any other reference work). The implications of this move: anything you already own may be quite easily transferred into one Bible Study software package. If Biblesoft doesnt offer the text you want or you already have one that is currently not compatible with PC Study Bible, it soon will be. You can even scan and create you own texts/icons. It no longer becomes a race to acquire Logos titles or STEP titles every title becomes available. Hopefully, well see it in January. Anyone buying it now will get it free then anyway If in doubt, most companies offer a money-back guarantee  buy both and keep the one you like!

-- Todd Kotila (thefox@foxinternet.com), November 06, 1998.

I would love to see PC Study Bible come out with a product similar to that described in the post above. However, based upon what I tested on the beta, they are far away from having that product ready to go to the public in Jan 1999. They gathered a large group of tester and at beta 6 in March 1998 discontinued communications with the testers. I have contacted the company, and they indicated that they would be testing the final product before it is released.

Like I stated above, I hope you are correct, but I don't see evidence that they are close to having a product that will convert and read all bible resources from all companies, including links to the bible, links to other books, ability to search, original language issues, different original language fonts, Strong's tags ect; not to mention the copywrite issues. The do have a good product, and it is worthy of consideration. Maybe someone from Biblesoft could clarify when 3.0 will be released and what it can do with regard to reading other companys' resources.

-- John Fidel (kfapa@swcp.com), November 07, 1998.


As far as copyright issues, if Biblesoft 3.0, will be able to convert electronic books from other formats (step, logos etc) to work in their format ..... I really don't see why this would be an issue. The ones that would be doing the converting, or using the converted books would be end users, who already paid for these books in their original format. I don't see how this is a violation of copyright.

-- Barry Steinman (barry@discountchristian.com), November 07, 1998.


For our more scholarly minded friends, looking for the ability to delve deeply into the grammar of the original texts, I was asked to pass the following email along from Hermeneutika.

FYI we have latest version of Bibleworks on sale for $199.95, free shipping in US & free Nelson/Logos starter kit.

Forwarded email follows: ******************************

All that I would really want to say is what users of BibleWorks tell us -- unsolicited -- about BibleWorks. You are welcome to "quote" me by copying entirely this email into your forum. Date: 6 Nov. 1998.

grace and peace and joy, in Christ Jesus,

Mark Rice, director Hermeneutika BibleWorks Computer Bible Research Software

****** RECENT UNSOLICITED QUOTES/REVIEWS ABOUT BIBLEWORKS ******

>From a Pastor-Teacher-Doctor: "I'm one of those peculiar folks who believe that the original Biblical languages are critical to the work of Christian ministry... BibleWorks [is] head and shoulders above all others. Bar none... Save your pennies. Don't settle for a cheap imitation. This is the program to beat. There is nothing even close to BibleWorks' speed, flexibility, and simplicity of use. With this program, the dividing wall of hostility between you and the original language of scripture has been broken down, whether you went to seminary or not. What's amazing is that this program is just as easy and useful for the student of scripture who wants to work only with the English [or German or French or Spanish or etc] as it is for the student who prefers the Hebrew text...Greek...Latin. Most Bible study software is chocked full of [items] that actually take you *away* from the text itself. When pressed, most Bible study software is limited in its ability with the biblical text. Not so with BibleWorks. The designers have kept the biblical text as this software's priority.... BibleWorks has been engineered chiefly to empower your close reading (exegesis) of the text." 14 May 1996, Rev. Richard Deibert, Pastor, M.D.

>From a Pastor-Expositor: "For my purposes as a pastor-expositor, this is absolutely a phenomenal program! It is so well thought out and so "bug free," that my [another program] is on the endangered species list.... Man, I like this program!"

23 February 1998, Pastor John Cornette, D. Min., Ambassador Baptist Church, New Jersey.

>From a Scholar-Editor-Publisher: "BibleWorks for Windows 3.5 is an outstanding tool for analyzing the biblical text in the original languages and in English, as well as in several other modern languages....I have been using BibleWorks daily for several years and have been impressed with its functionality and ease of use. Every upgrade has incorporated valuable new features and texts- and has worked as expected." 26 February 1998, John R. Kohlenberger, III

>From a Pastor-Teacher: "It is beyond my wildest dreams in content and accessibility! It blows away my 'teachers edition' of QuickVerse." 25 November 1997, Pastor Ron Ross, Wisconsin

>From a Pastor-Teacher: "BibleWorks blows all my other computer Bibles out of the water. Their days are numbered on my machine!" "..since I sent that e-mail, I've had a few more days to find my way around on BibleWorks. This program is everything (or nearly so) I've ever wished other programs were. The resources are phenomenal and the flexibility and intuitive nature of the program make it very easy to get familiar with. I've only had the program for five days (using it for about 5 hours a day, of course) and I am already well acquainted with it." 7 August 1998, Pr. William Terjesen, Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Peekskill, New York

>From a Pastor-Preacher-Teacher: "I want to thank you, first of all, for this marvelous product you have provided! I just recently purchased your Hermeneutika BibleWorks for Windows 3.5, and I am THOROUGHLY impressed. This will get a great deal of use in my teaching and preaching, and I am tremendously grateful to you for developing this quality resource. "The truth is that I was reluctant to invest this kind of money in such a computer program. After all, I thought, haven't preachers and teachers and pastors managed to do their jobs for centuries without this kind of technology? And didn't I already have on my shelves most of the books which roughly duplicated what I would find on this CD? "But, no. What you have put together is like nothing I have on my shelves. And while I suppose I could do my job without this technology, it would be a relatively poor stewardship of time, given the advantages of this terrific program. Thank you!!" 7 June 1997, Pastor David Kalas, United Methodist Church, Appleton, Wisconsin

>From a Priest-Biblical Student: "As to the new version - FANTASTIC! I absolutely love it! It just arrived yesterday, and I am amazed at the improvements that you made over a version that was incredibly powerful as it stood and that served me beautifully in my work, study, and knowledge of the Word of God since the day it first arrived. You are to be congratulated. I, for one, am certainly grateful to the friend who first recommended your product to me." 20 March 1997, Rev. David Monaco, C.P., Casa Generalizia dei Passionisti, Rome

>From a Minister in The Netherlands: "I'm a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church, valuing very much the translations I make for myself out of the original texts. When you know what the word means in Hebrew c.q Greek, your sermon will be better, because you know what you're talking about. That's real scholarship from my point of view. BibleWorks for Windows is the very best there is for this basic work in exegesis, translation and worshipping! I'm very proud to work with your program and it's still going better and faster! Please go on developing!" 9 August 1998, Rev. F.A. Wiersma, Dutch Reformed Church

>From a Professor of Biblical Studies: "Since receiving your product, I have [tested and reviewed many other Bible software products] as well.....I must continue to say that I am still able to make BibleWorks the top recommendation for Bible software to all my students." 22 July 1998, Prof. Mark H. Soto, Grace College and Theological Seminary, Indiana

Student Finds BibleWorks the Best in Europe: "...I'm a glad user of BibleWorks 3.5!! It totally fulfilled all my expectations and much more. I'm quite overwhelmed..... BibleWorks is the best program not only in the USA but also in whole Europe. I really spent much time, looking for a good Bibel-programm and I must say, your programm is absolutely the best!!! Last week, my first exegetical study with help of BibleWorks has gone out and our teacher already spoke out his respect about the work..." 15 December 1997, Johannes Schwab, Bibelschule Adelshofen, Germany

BibleWorks Generates Joy in Studying the Word of God: "I like very much working with BibleWorks. It is fun, one understands the Original Texts easier and faster, and it generates new and different joy in studying the Word of God." 3 November 1997, Benjamin Spring, Ewersbach Theological Seminary, Germany

BibleWorks Better Than Books: "Got the CD. What a Blessing!! I hope you know what it means to me. This product is the most valuable tool in my library. When I wished to study a text in the Greek I used 9 books. Sometimes I would have 4-6 books opened at one time. I do not know if you do any study from the Greek and then try to teach it. It is a very time consuming quest. I spend at least one quarter of the time preparing study materials and sermons." 11 February 1998, Chaplain Charles Bolin, Nevada

BibleWorks Priceless, Profitable, Practical, Personal and Productive "...a program that is priceless for approaching the Scriptures, built with intelligence to serve different needs...actively determined by the user, who can unite, in a profitable synthesis, his needs with the stimuli he receives from BibleWorks. A towering accomplishment, due to the great amount of tools...[yet] it is easy to configure the program to your personal needs...." 1997, Luca de Santis, Italy, in "Revista Angelicum" (European Biblical Journal) **********************************************************************

-- Barry Steinman (barry@discountchristian.com), November 07, 1998.


You have received some good info

Proceed with caution, and slowness--it is hard to get your money returned, once spent. Buy a program you will actually use. No sense of getting all the original language 'goodies' if you will not use them.

Personally, I use the old Seedmaster program, currently called the BCS or Bible Companion Series the most, though having Logos and Online Bible, as well as looking at many demos.

You might enjoy looking at my homepage--follow the link to Bible Software from the main page, where there is a brief discussion about (some) of the Bible programs available. Barry should not mind, I have a link there to his page! http://www.vernonia.com/keith

The BCS and Online programs have the advantage of having a very workable personal cross reference and commentary system. I go to Logos for original language study, and a few of the books that are exclusive to that program only.

keith@vernonia.com

-- keith morgan (keith@vernonia.com), November 07, 1998.


I'll try to make this brief, I've been using Biblesoft's PC Study Bible for over 8 years (since the DOS days) for personal Bible study, and teaching, I don't read Greek or Hebrew, but I've alway's really profited from the way Biblesoft's references are linked together, I usually start with a Concordance search, find the verse I'm looking for, then go to all the references from there, very simple, but very powerful. Then I print out my results from a Word processor, then read it, pass it out to students, friends and people I meet along the road of life, I think it's great. Also I just bought the "Complete Reference Library" after a few years of not upgrading, and I am very pleased with the product, and really looking forward to the FREE upgrade to 3.0 soon (Jan 1999?). Also I use Ages version 4, talk about an amazing deal that is to own such a huge (and valuable) Library for under $60, not as powerful, but very useful. I hope this helps, let me know what you end up with, in Christ's Love, Chris P.S. feel free to Email me directly if you'd like also.

-- Chris Benner (Chosen1z@Juno.com), November 08, 1998.

I am a satisfied Logos user (Nelson's collection). I have tried the freeware versions of just about all of them. I am not a company rep nor am I a store salesman. I'm just a user.

You can get a "Starter" version of the Nelson collection for just $9.95 to be able to try out a fully functional version with limited books unlocked.

A previous post characterized the learning curve as "long" - my experience is the opposite; I found the "simpler" interfaces to be very frustrating to use for serious work & the Logos interface to be logical & well thought out. It is also customizable to your preferences.

A previous post stated that the links could not be preserved between sessions with Logos. This is not true. Of course, the built-in hyperlinks (of which there are many) remain, but customer links between books (i.e. to link different Bible versions, or to link in a commentary) can be preserved by telling the system in your "Preferences" to automatically save your workspace & to reload it on startup -- two check boxes are provided in the preferences dialog box for this. This will reload your links, notes, etc., as well as your windows arrangements of what is where.

I don't like their library browser window, since you have two choices with it: it is either not there (you call call it back with a toolbar button) or it insists on always being on top. In other words, if it is there, you can't put one of your work windows on top of any part of it; you can only resize it to push it off to the side or something.

Also, in the irritation department, some of the commentaries seem to be linked just "approximately" to the bible reference. In other words, you will be in Book X, Chapter 20, verse 3 & your linked Matthew Henry will be lagging back in Chapter 19, requiring you to scroll forward in the commentary manually. This may be because some of the commenatries aren't exactly "clean" as to where they reference certains scriptures - they tend to jump around some - but still this could be done much better.

The Logos Library System is better for scholarly or "serious" study, because of their language support plus they have supported all versions of the canon from the beginning (i.e. they have included the Catholic as well as Protestant versions, fully linked, from the start, unlike Parsons). This can be important to serious study, even for Protestants, if you ever need to reference the Apocrypha / Deuterocanon.

CAUTION re: STEP: (MY OPINION ONLY - SINCE IT IS MY OPINION, YOU SHOULD MAKE YOUR OWN DETERMINATION BASED ON THE FACTS AS YOU SEE THEM) STEP is not really independent. It is owned by Parson's, even though they have set up a shell "foundation" or some such. Check out who really owns the trademark & who really calls the shots technically - it is Parsons (or whatever has become of Parsons after their various buy-outs, spin-offs, etc). It is really their answer to the Logos Library System because their original proprietary system was failing in the market. Logos has for a long time made their formats available to anyone who wants to publish in their library system. So STEP's claim of being "open" is a bit "me too" & their claim of being the only open publishing system is disengenuous marketing flack.

As to Logos unlock prices, you can find really good deals if you shop around. Logos frequently runs major discount promotions for individual unlocks (currently 40-50% off), so you should only pay full price if you can't wait. Logos package prices, including those of their partners such as the Nelson collection, the Charles Stanley collection, or the Jack Hayford collection, provide excellent value compared with the Parson's collections. You can find a very complete collection for $70 or so on the net bookstores.

-- Tom Bell (tombell513@aol.com), November 09, 1998.


From reading the above, you will find that there are many excellent products available, and users have definite reasons for liking certain products. We are fortunate to have so many excellent products to choose from.

Tom, I respect your right to your opinion on STEP, however, it does not appear you have used any STEP products from Parsons, NavPress, Rainbow Software, Kirkbride or Zondervan. I respect your opinion, however I disagree that STEP is not an open standard, or one that is available to any publisher or Software developer.

Logos is an excellent product and is worthy of consideration of anyone who is considering a bible study software purchase. I own it also. For those interested in further discussions regarding Logos vs STEP, I can recommend some websites to gather additional information.

-- John Fidel (kfapa@swcp.com), November 11, 1998.


John Fidel posts

>it does not appear you have used any STEP products from >Parsons,NavPress, Rainbow Software, Kirkbride or Zondervan.

Yes, I have tried them; also the older Quickverse program. I do not own them, though. I'm far from an expert in their capabilities. My opinion of their capabilities is also not with the latest releases, so my views on their capabilities not being up to serious work may be dated.

>I respect your opinion ... that STEP is not an open standard, >or one that is available to any publisher or Software developer.

That's not what I said (or at least that is not what I meant)... I said that STEP is not independent of Parsons and that it is not the ONLY open standard, nor was it the first - Logos was.

My point was that I wouldn't even consider the STEP claim to be the only open standard as a decision factor when purchasing, since they AREN'T the only open standard.

Quickverse is a good product, as are some of the others. They just didn't meet my needs. I was leary of Parsons at the time I bought due to their buy-out / spin-off corporate stuff - didn't trust who would own them & if they would continue to exist. Their products also seemed to me to be not quite up to serious work. The corporate ownership issues seem to have settled out a bit. When I was looking to buy, Zondervan's offering was a bit pricy, it seemed, but I haven't priced them lately.

Just for calibration, I was not interested in the low end "boxed sets" (again just not up to serious work) - so my price comparisons began a couple of levels up in the various packages.

-- Tom Bell (tombell513@aol.com), November 11, 1998.


John, I went to the STEP site and read the whole thing, I understand your perspective, and that of independent marketers. Too bad there is such a RIGHTS battle. I believe if God inspires someone to write or translate, it should be God who owns the rights. It would be interesting if some well to do individual said "I'll buy the rights back" to all the bible liturature, then freely gave it away. I seem to remember that someone paid a great price for my freedom, shouldn't we be doing the same for others? (Freeing up His Word) Thank you for your continued input, Randall's soapbox

-- Randall Goldsmith (reson2@prodigy.net), November 11, 1998.

Barry, I believe it would be somewhat enlightening for you to check out the STEP website, there are good explanations of what has been undertaken and the response they have had, also the opportunities, cost, limitations, etc. I found it worth reading, all of it.

You brought up "FREE", I find a big difference between a developed standard that the tools can be purchased to publish with, (or you can download the specs and work through it yourself), and a standard that is owned and held by a company that will not release the specs or tools to produce (or read) useable copy. Randall

-- Randall Goldsmith (reson2@prodigy.net), November 12, 1998.


There seems to be some question in my mind as to the intentions of Biblesoft, I hear, but have not felt it is confirmed that they will be releasing authoring tools with version 3.0. Can this be validated? And of course there will there be a cost?

Randall

-- Randall Goldsmith (reson2@prodigy.net), November 12, 1998.


The following statement is taken right off the Biblesoft Web Site: The question of authoring tools is clearly stated in the second half.

Joshua Technology and PC Study Bible 3.0

BIBLESOFT began work on its Joshua technology three years ago and we are looking forward to its first use in PC Study Bible 3.0 which is due to be released early next year! PC Study Bible 3.0 will be powerful because it automatically finds information in the library about any Bible passage or topic. Just like our current product, you never have to create complicated "searches" to find information. Yet with all its power, we're determined to keep PC Study Bible the easiest to use Bible software package. Ease of use has been the hallmark of PC Study Bible and it will never change!

PC Study Bible 3.0 will be even more powerful thanks to the enhancement of its already powerful Smart References. As you might already know, Smart References take you to all the places in your PC Study Bible library where you'll find information about the Bible passage you are studying. PC Study Bible 3.0 will introduce Smart Topics. These will take you to all of the places in the library where you'll find information about the topic you're studying. It's still automatic; no searching is required.

And there is more...

Now you will be able to author your own Bible study and reference materials using the BIBLESOFT Authoring System included in PC Study Bible 3.0. These new materials will work just like the reference materials we publish! They will be integrated into the library automatically and feature Smart References and Smart Topics. When you are studying a Bible passage or topic that you have previously authored materials for, PC Study Bible will automatically show your materials as one of the many cross-references! No other Bible study library is this easy to use or this simple to expand!

Barry

-- Barry Steinman (barry@discountchristian.com), November 12, 1998.


For Tom Bell:

This is from the Step Website. It answers, from the STEP perspective your comments regarding and open standard and the difference between Logos and STEP. If you or anyone is interested the site is at:

http://www.bsisg.com

STEP and Logos Logos Research Systems refers to its Logos Library System (LLS) as an "electronic publishing standard" for Christian publishers and has stated that it will not support STEP. As a result, LLS is frequently presented in the media as the "alternative" to STEP. BSISG doesn't see the situation as "STEP vs. Logos" but rather as "open standards" vs. "proprietary publishing systems" (which would include Logos, the current Biblesoft product, and any other publishing method that only works with one software product). But because we're often asked about Logos, it seems appropriate to comment on a couple of misperceptions.

STEP was not simply a reaction to the electronic publishing work being done at Logos Research Systems. The ideas for STEP were germinated among the Bible software companies years before STEP came into being. STEP was eventually born out of Loizeaux's frustration in coming to a satisfactory licensing arrangement with software publishers. Logos was only one of the many companies that Loizeaux had been talking to. So STEP was a reaction not specifically to Logos, but to the closed, proprietary publishing model being pushed by the Bible software companies.

The efforts to develop a common data format across the Bible software industry did not exclude Logos. At least one of the STEP partners attempted to adopt the Logos "standard" but was rebuffed by Logos. Not to be dissuaded, the group invited Logos to participate in STEP but was again denied. The offer for Logos (and any other Bible software companies) to participate in STEP will always be open. My comments:

Take it for what it is worth. I don't think it is Logos vs STEP. They are different products that serve different markets. I would love to be able to read my STEP resources in Logos and my Logos resources in STEP, however, the products were not designed to work that way. Parsons cannot publish under the Logos standard and have the products work with the Parsons reader. STEP resources can be read by software company's STEP reader. Minor difference to many, perhaps, but worth noting, I believe.

STEP is not the product for original language studies, at least at this point. I would agree that Logos or probably Bible Works is more appropriate for that.

God Bless.

-- John Fidel (kfapa@swcp.com), November 12, 1998.


Bible Study on the Computer - Is this a software business or a publishing business?

This discussion is straying a bit from the original thread (what Bible software to buy) and into a "religious" discussion of a different sort (what business & competition issues underlie this market). Maybe we should start a different thread for this, if it is interesting to folks.

To the board monitor: if you want to move this message to the start of a new thread with a subject heading similar to the first line, that is OK with me.

For the consumer of Bible software, or electronic publishing of any kind, the standards wars are of little consequence in the specifics, but have the final consequence of not all books & resources are available to everyone without purchasing multiple systems - kind of a Beta vs. VHS battle.

It is clear to me, at least, that STEP was indeed a reaction to the market dominance of the Logo Library System (LLS). One of the business competitors of Logos Research offered them a Faustian bargain of helping invent the STEP standard because they could not reach an "acceptable" agreement with Logos on the LLS (acceptable means they did not want to pay Logos any money, no doubt.)

To agree with this, Logos would have had to obsolete their market leading product, re-publish their vast library to a new standard, and give up their support of Hebrew & Greek. Gee, I wonder why they did not go for it.

Logos Research clearly views themselves as in the publishing business, not the software business. Just look at their business model with both their partners, such as Nelson, and the final customers, such as me.

Their ideal business partner is a publisher. Because of this, those who view themselves as in the software business (e.g. Parsons) would have an immediate clash of business objectives with Logos. No wonder they couldn't reach an agreement. Notice the deal Logos struck with Nelson. In this one deal, Logos has dramatically increased the dominance of the LLS in the market, because of the vast array of titles that Nelson publishes. Their "customers" are really purchasing Nelson books, not LLS; they are purchasing Nelson Bible study resources, not LLS. What does Logos get from this? I don't know, but it is no doubt a royalty from Nelson. Now, if Nelson considered themselves to be in the software business, they would have a problem with paying this royalty to a "competitor." But, they no doubt view it as similar to any other cost of publishing, whether that be the cost of paper, the cost of running the printing press, or the royalties paid to authors.

Now, look at the relationship between Logos Research and me, a Nelson customer. I can always download the latest version of the Logos Library System FREE. Parsons, on the other hand, states their maintenance policy as

" Upgrade Policy

If you purchase a Parsons Software product and the product is upgraded within 60 days of your date of purchase, you are entitled to the new version for our standard $5 shipping fee.

If your Parsons product is upgraded beyond that 60 day period, regular upgrade pricing will apply. "

(from http://www.parsonstech.com/support/cassist/returns.html)

They are acting like a software company in the Microsoft mold: buy their product & then pay to upgrade for the bug corrections & new features year after year. With LLS, on the other hand, you buy books for your "library", you don't pay for the "library" itself, or for future versions of the "library" - only for future books to add to it.

I would suggest that the STEP web-site is not the place to get objective information about this topic. Further, notice the legal claims at the bottom of their page... "STEP is a registered trademark and the STEP logo is a trademark of Parsons Technology, Inc." Sure sounds independent to me! Also notice that STEP does indeed charge a fee (royalty by any other name...) for the use of their software, and it is not even complete - just starter kits. They do say that if you want to, you can get the specs & write your own software; again just another indicator that they view theirs as a software business, not a publishing business.

-- Tom Bell (tombell513@aol.com), November 12, 1998.


To Tom Bell:

This discussion is going nowhere. You are entitle to your opion, which I disagree with. You continue to feel it is a Logos Vs STEP issue. I contend that it is not. I have provided informtion regarding this matter to the originator of this thread for him to make whatever decision he chooses. Good luck and God Bless.

-- John Fidel (kfapa@swcp.com), November 12, 1998.


Responce to where this thread started and where it is going; I may of started it by asking a question, and I did get on my soapbox and state an opinion, but I am really being blessed and informed as to; exactly what is out there, how it works, how different people think, where the different ideas came from, the strenghths and weaknesses of each, and personal preference,

Because of this forum I have purchased a work that I would not of even considered before!

So take it where you like, I value each one of you who have participated, Thank you all!

Randall

-- Randall Goldsmith (reson2@prodigy.net), November 12, 1998.


I should add just one thing, the links to other sites are great, and pasting in specific pieces of information are great (hopefully with links to the complete original) however cutting large portions of pure advertisements and pasting them for all to scroll through seems a bit out of place, no offence to those who have done it, but it would be nice to know that all agree to think primarily "Discussion" not "Advertisement". My two cents, Randall

-- Randall Goldsmith (reson2@prodigy.net), November 12, 1998.

To John Fidel,

"Going nowhere," I guess, means you disagree. Even a cursory search of the web will find that the only people who do NOT think that STEP is a competitive reaction to the Logos Library System are the STEP people themselves - I don't know why they dispute the obvious. In fact, this is a new position for them, since a year or so ago the VP of Parsons had a "private" web site that was full of STEP vs LLS propaganda.

Unbiased writers on this topic, such as Christian Computing Magazine and COMPUTING TODAY magazine frequently publish articles & comparisons with a STEP vs LLS view.

I have no particular axe to grind here. I am just mystified why you, as I said above, continue to dispute the obvious. STEP & LLS are competitive approaches to electronic publishing, both with a primary focus on Bible study. Each of us will buy based on our own needs (and biases.) It remains to be seen which approach will prevail. At the present time, LLS is ahead in total titles, market share, and sophistication in the LLS software. However, as the VHS "camp" demonstrated in their battle with Sony, sometimes a single company has problems against combined forces, even when the product is superior and starts with a market lead.

-- Tom Bell (tombell513@aol.com), November 13, 1998.


As one of the authors of STEP I'm going to filter through this thread and resolve some of the issues raised by various contributors. I know some of these are old issues but I hate to leave them sitting here unanswered.

Also I should point out that I'm no longer with Parsons Technology but am still involved in STEP and still in the Bible software business.

From Barry: "STEP: I don't believe that anyone that wants to can use it. Isn't there fees to pay. Or can only the publishers that are on board use it??"

Anyone that wants to CAN use STEP. There is a fee associated with the use of the STEP Logo, but not to create books in STEP. The format is public. Now, just because you CAN use it doesn't mean it's EASY. If you want the publishing tools Parsons created to simplify this task, they're expensive for the average software user, but extremely cheap for the publishers at whom they're aimed. (One publisher said the price was no problem and to prove it said he planned to buy a copy even though he had no intentions of publishing in STEP!)

The reason there are no inexpensive tools is because there is no demand. The note-taking capabilities in most Bible software is sufficient for most people.

Barry: "What about self publishers, people that want to go straight to electronic, not print, and do not have a big publisher behind them."

Those who want to self-publish usually want to do so because they can't find a real publisher who will accept their work. This kind of vanity publishing is readily available and always costs, even in print. To ask for it at little or no cost is unwarranted.

Note that NONE of the software publishers offer self-publishing in their native format. This is not a unique feature of only STEP. BS will be the first company to offer this if/when "Joshua" ships.

Barry: "It is my understanding that Biblesoft 3.0 will be an open format, they will give away authoring tools. So anyone can self publish. If so, it appears no one else is doing that."

Your last comment confirms mine: There is little demand for this.

Joshua will not be "open" -- the format will not be published. Neither will it be "free" but rather will be a feature of the program you buy. And again, as of this date (2/1/99) it is several years late and hasn't shipped yet.

Barry: "But.... I don't know if mainline publishers will want to publish to an open format. I would think they like the propietary format, that costs to publish,.. to discourage self publishing."

Print publishers don't really care. They're looking for the maximum sized audience for their publications. Open, closed, PC, Mac, whatever... just give them a large audience. This is one of the benefits of STEP.

Tom: "They do say that if you want to, you can get the specs & write your own software; again just another indicator that they view theirs as a software business, not a publishing business."

While at Parsons I *always* viewed us as being competitors to the print publishers. We cooperated to the extent necessary for rights/royalties but I view electronic as simply another publishing medium.

Barry: "As far as copyright issues, if Biblesoft 3.0, will be able to convert electronic books from other formats (step, logos etc) to work in their format ..... I really don't see why this would be an issue. The ones that would be doing the converting, or using the converted books would be end users, who already paid for these books in their original format. I don't see how this is a violation of copyright."

Hard to believe, but it is a copyright violation. Consider copying music from a CD you own to a tape so you can play it in your car (OK, your old car that doesn't have a CD player). This is illegal even though it's for your own use.

When you deprive the copyright owner of a royalty payment by making your own second copy of the work, you're violating the very purpose of copyright laws.

Tom: "CAUTION re: STEP: (MY OPINION ONLY - SINCE IT IS MY OPINION, YOU SHOULD MAKE YOUR OWN DETERMINATION BASED ON THE FACTS AS YOU SEE THEM) STEP is not really independent. It is owned by Parson's, even though they have set up a shell "foundation" or some such. Check out who really owns the trademark & who really calls the shots technically - it is Parsons (or whatever has become of Parsons after their various buy-outs, spin-offs, etc)."

Tom, if you had actually read the information on the site you'd discover how wrong this statement is. BSISG is an independent corporation whose officers consist of NO Parsons people. (OK, I was on there when I was at Parsons but they currently have no representation and I am significantly outnumbered by non-Parsons people.)

Parsons owns the trademark because at the time it was registered BSISG had no independent funds to obtain or defend it. Control of the trademark is licensed to BSISG, who uses and licenses it without asking any permission from Parsons.

As far as "calling the shots" let me just say that I *wish* I could have called the shots technically on STEP because I would have done things differently -- not necessarily "better" but "my way" :-). But STEP is the result of a collaborative effort over a period of several years by a number of companies. Parsons contributed most of the work (we spent easily a million dollars on STEP tools etc.) but that shouldn't be interpreted as "calling the shots" to the exclusion of others. It's a reflection of the reality of the fact that we had a team of 30 or so people we could dedicate to the task whereas the sum total of all the employees of the rest of the software companies involved was probably less than that. Despite this, NavPress made important technical contributions to STEP.

Tom: "It is really their answer to the Logos Library System because their original proprietary system was failing in the market."

Parsons did at the time and continues in the present to outsell Logos in all channels. Few people (and you're not one of them) have enough facts at their disposal to indisputably make this statement. Sorry I took this one so personally. I don't like to hear the word "failing" used in conjunction with products I was intimately involved in, especially when it's unjustified.

Tom: "Logos has for a long time made their formats available to anyone who wants to publish in their library system. So STEP's claim of being "open" is a bit "me too" & their claim of being the only open publishing system is disengenuous marketing flack."

This is also false. The proprietary LLS format is not now and never has been available to anyone who wants to publish in their library system. In this respect they operate just like everyone (including Parsons) did before STEP: If you want to publish in their format you must do it through them. You can't independently publish in the LLS format whereas you can independently publish in STEP.

Now, let's define "open": The dictionary says it means "accessible to all; unrestricted." With respect to STEP it means the format of the data is publicly available; the format was created and is maintained by a group of several participating companies; and membership in the group is open to anyone who is willing to actively participate. None of these attributes are characteristic of LLS or the BS format.

The FACT that STEP is the only open publishing system in the commercial Christian publishing market is not "marketing flack" but is just plain the truth.

Tom: "I was leary of Parsons at the time I bought due to their buy- out / spin-off corporate stuff - didn't trust who would own them & if they would continue to exist."

A valid point, though it's worth noting that Parsons Church Software Division is on more solid financial ground than most (any?) of the other Christian software publishers. Consider the fact that they've survived four owners... you don't do that if you're not doing a good job. The latest purchase by Mattel, however, throws a HUGE unknown into the game. However, you don't just drop an asset like QuickVerse... you sell it. So the prospects for a future are good even if it's not with Mattel.

Randall: "I believe if God inspires someone to write or translate, it should be God who owns the rights. It would be interesting if some well to do individual said "I'll buy the rights back" to all the bible liturature, then freely gave it away."

This is like the guy who was in a flood. He's sitting on the top of his house praying for God to miraculously rescue him as the waters rise. A boat comes by and offers to take him to safety. "No," he says, "God is going to miraculously save me!" The boat leaves. A while later another boat comes by, then another. Each time the man says, "No, God is going to miraculously save me!"

Within a few hours the water overtakes the man and he drowns. In heaven he asks God, "Why didn't you rescue me?" God replies, "What are you talking about? I sent three boats!"

God has graciously allowed me and about thirty other people at Parsons to provide for our families by publishing Christian software and reference books for over ten years. If we gave it all away it would never happen and we would never eat. I agree that salvation is free, but I disagree that those who sow spiritual seed shouldn't be allowed to be physically fed.

I guess that wasn't a STEP question, was it. :-)

John: "STEP is not the product for original language studies, at least at this point."

Parsons Greek New Testament is published "mostly" in the STEP format with some extensions. A generic STEP reader would be able to do most of it except grammatical searches.

Tom: "It is clear to me, at least, that STEP was indeed a reaction to the market dominance of the Logo Library System (LLS)."

At the time STEP was introduced, LLS was cleary NOT dominanting the market (nor is it presently from a revenue standpoint; you could argue it from a features/usefulness standpoint but that would be very subjective).

Tom: "One of the business competitors of Logos Research offered them a Faustian bargain of helping invent the STEP standard because they could not reach an "acceptable" agreement with Logos on the LLS (acceptable means they did not want to pay Logos any money, no doubt.)"

I asked if I could get a copy of the LLS format so Parsons could make QuickVerse LLS compatible. I was told "it's not that kind of standard." I wasn't given a price; just told it couldn't be done.

Tom: "To agree with this, Logos would have had to obsolete their market leading product, re-publish their vast library to a new standard, and give up their support of Hebrew & Greek. Gee, I wonder why they did not go for it."

Not true. Especially in the early days, STEP was promoted among software companies as a "second format" they could also support. We envisioned that you would open STEP books in another window. They may or may not have all the capabilities of native books. NavPress continues to publish this way, with their Bibles in their native format. Parsons also did this up until version 5 (October 1998). It would be relatively easy for Logos to support the standard without re- doing any books. (In fact, I think they told me once they had the code to read STEP books.)

Tom: "I can always download the latest version of the Logos Library System FREE. Parsons, on the other hand, states their maintenance policy as .... They are acting like a software company in the Microsoft mold: buy their product & then pay to upgrade for the bug corrections & new features year after year."

False. QuickVerse 5.0 is available for free download from the Parsons web site.

Tom: "Also notice that STEP does indeed charge a fee (royalty by any other name...) for the use of their software, and it is not even complete - just starter kits."

"Royalty: n, A share paid to an author or composer out of the proceeds resulting from the sale or performance of his work." There are no royalties associated with publishing in STEP. If you choose to use Parsons' publishing tools instead of creating your own, you pay a fee that goes partly to Parsons and partly to support the maintenance of the standard itself. You can create as many books as you'd like using the tools. You can sell them or give them away and pay nothing to BSISG or Parsons. Alternately, you can read the spec and create your own software and books and not pay anything to anyone.

If you want to use the artwork for the STEP Logo, there is a fee for that. But you can call your work "compatible with STEP" without using the logo or getting permission or paying a fee.

There are no royalties associated with STEP.

The Publishers Toolkit and the Developers Toolkit are complete solutions. I don't know where you got the idea they were "starter kits".

Tom: "They do say that if you want to, you can get the specs & write your own software; again just another indicator that they view theirs as a software business, not a publishing business."

This aspect of Parsons business is, in fact, a tools business. But the majority of what Parsons does is a publishing business. In fact, Parsons does exactly what Logos does in that respect: They offer their services to publishers who want to publish electronically but don't have the resources/knowledge to do it. The only difference is the financial terms.

This point has come up several times. I'm not sure why it's important. All Bible software companies are are in the publishing business. Witness the fact that QuickVerse for Windows was recently awarded the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association's "Gold Book" award for sales over half a million units. The ECPA categorizes Bible software as "Christian Literature" and it is this eligible for this award (and is the first and only Bible software title to have won it, by the way.)

Tom: "Even a cursory search of the web will find that the only people who do NOT think that STEP is a competitive reaction to the Logos Library System are the STEP people themselves - I don't know why they dispute the obvious. In fact, this is a new position for them, since a year or so ago the VP of Parsons had a "private" web site that was full of STEP vs LLS propaganda."

Hi, I'm that VP of Parsons with a private web site full of STEP vs. LLS propaganda. http://www.craigr.com if you're interested.

The essence of my disagreement with your statement is in the word "reaction." I agree that STEP and LLS offer alternative publishing formats and in that sense they compete. I agree that STEP arose at a time when Logos was beginning to grow its business. But the facts surrounding the genesis of STEP are well-known. I have a letter in my files from 1989 or 1990 from Dr. Sneeringer at NavPress offering to help create a common publishing format and proposing some technical parameters for those discussions. This had been a topic of conversation for a long time. When Jim VanDuzer from Loizeaux called and said that others had already committed to him that they would participate, and when he said other publishers were also expressing an interest, we had the necessary momentum to start the ball rolling. If STEP had tried to invent itself only out of the software industry, I don't believe it would have succeeded. But instead, it grew from a need in the publishing industry to go beyond what Parsons was offering at the time (and which Logos and Biblesoft continue to offer): Publishers wanted a way to self-publish that was targetted to multiple software platforms. You could argue that STEP was not successful because it didn't get complete participation. But there are far more STEP books out there than LLS or BS books by a long shot.

Tom: "STEP & LLS are competitive approaches to electronic publishing, both with a primary focus on Bible study. Each of us will buy based on our own needs (and biases.) It remains to be seen which approach will prevail."

No argument on this one. Just wanted to give you credit for an accurate statement. :-)

Tom: "At the present time, LLS is ahead in total titles..."

This might be right. I haven't done the math for a while.

Tom: "...market share..."

I disagree, though neither of us can prove our point. I have the data but can't in good conscience release it due to my past association with Parsons (I would consider it confidential). You don't have the data (unless you're really not just a LLS customer but are actually with the company and know more than we think you do) so you couldn't release it if you wanted.

-------

Thanks for bearing with me. I hope you'll take this all in the spirit of simply wanting to get the facts on the table. This is an excellent thread even if it has perhaps wandered off topic.

Craig Rairdin Former VP Church Software Division. Parsons Technology Current President of Laridian, Inc. http://www.craigr.com http://www.laridian.com

-- Craig Rairdin (craigr@laridian.com), February 01, 1999.


I have just released a new bible software package and would like some feedback on it. It uses the Microsoft Agent to read the bible out loud to the user through their speakers and has the options to read verses, chapters, or books in the quantity you define. It also contains full text search capabilities and an expanded reading study window. The address of the software is: http://www.kc7jho.com/bible-reader.html

Thanks for your time, Nate Johnson www.kc7jho.com

-- Nathan Johnson (nate@kc7jho.com), July 23, 2001.


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