[sword-devel] Bible Software Review

Chris Little chrislit at crosswire.org
Thu May 1 09:14:00 MST 2008

Jonathan Morgan wrote:
> I don't want to get into a lengthy debate, but a full featured system
> that is not used will not help anything.  I, for one, will not use
> Sword for Windows in its current state, and I think you can see in his
> response to it how the average user will respond.  [note that I have
> considerable exposure to usability ideas, so I tend to view
> goal-directed design and usability as more important than feature
> lists.]

What makes BibleCS unusable for you?

> How about BPBible?  I'll willingly admit to bias here, but I claim
> that it supports most features that ordinary users will actually use
> (Install Manager style support is an exception, but that is currently
> a work in progress), and does so in a way that I hope means users will
> like it and use it.

BPBible is admittedly not really on my radar. The fact that it relies on 
Python makes me assume it's going to have some similar feature lag to 
JSword-based software. (I have similar negative opinions of BibleCS 
based on its being written in BCB. I don't feel any Windows frontend can 
meet its potential without being written with MS tools.)

In about 5 minutes of trying it out, here are my experiences. (And I'll 
grant I'm not a typical user. I know where Sword frontends are likely to 
fall short, and that's what I looked at first.) I'm using 0.2.

Each verse number is a link. I don't know to what since the program 
crashes when I click them.

I like the use of a treeview for module selection. But, it's a real pain 
to have all modules in one control, in one location. If I'm reading a 
commentary, I don't want to have to move my mouse all the way to the 
other side of the screen to switch to a different commentary. But I 
really do abhor the tabbed  module selection that you find in BibleCS, 
e-Sword, and too many other programs. The treeview is not as nice for 
chapter selection, and apparently there's no way to select a commentary 
verse other than #1 without typing in the box.

Mouseover popups and searching are both very nice and snappy. I like the 
copy all/anchor options on popups.

The key selection in LD modules is nice. Loading the indexes will be 
slow on slower machines without some caching of the list. LD modules 
with UTF-8 keys are completely unusable. (UTF-8 keys themselves cannot 
be selected, lots of empty spaces in the list, non-UTF-8 keys can't be 
selected after attempting to select a key with UTF-8, etc.)

No ICU transliteration. No GenBooks. No support for TEI. No support for 
#....|-style references in GBF modules. No special handling of daily 
devotionals or glossaries.

Apparently there's no support to toggling anything but cross-refs, 
footnotes, and headings. (I can't find any way to display Strong's 
numbers, morphology, words of Christ in red (doesn't appear to render 
quotation marks either), textual variants, etc.)

> I would have thought that e-Sword has more modules than we do.

We have 279 public + 50 beta = 329 modules on crosswire.org (some 
overlap between the two, but it's minimal). I would estimate we will 
have about 60 more within 2 months--some of it actually useful.

e-Sword offers 146 free native downloads + 6 STEP + 23 for purchase = 
175 total available.

I would guess the other Jonathan's "e-Sword has thousands more than The 
SWORD Project" anticipates the user's willingness to break the law by 
using the various programs for e-Sword that use scraping of 
BibleGateway, Gospelcom, etc. Aside from those, e-Sword does have a 
certain amount of nice ready-made user-created content available that 
I'd love to make available, but I either know or suspect that it is not 
legal to distribute (by us or them).


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