[sword-devel] Bible Software Review

Jonathan Morgan jonmmorgan at gmail.com
Thu May 1 16:52:47 MST 2008

On Fri, May 2, 2008 at 2:14 AM, Chris Little <chrislit at crosswire.org> wrote:
> 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?

I haven't used it for a couple of years, but from memory it just "felt
wrong" (not very objective, but there are a large number of free Bible
software packages around and I find it easier to pick one I like than
to pick based on a feature list).

>  > 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.)

I'm afraid I can't follow the reasoning here.  I can follow it with
JSword (different body of code), but BibleCS is using Sword, as is
BPBible (via. SWIG).  I can't see how using non-Microsoft tools will
cause a system to have feature lag.  Only lack of maintenance and/or
lack of interest can cause that.

>  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.

It's never crashed for me.  I can tell you that it is intended to
"select" that verse in the Bible, commentary, etc. (a little clumsy,
but we are at present somewhat limited by wxHTML).

>  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.

I agree both about the pain of mouse moving and the pain of tabbed
selection.  However, in subversion the module tree is a filtered tree,
so if you type esv then it will filter out all modules without ESV in
the name (which means you will select the ESV).  Not sure if that's
the best approach, but it's at least better than searching through
many modules.

>  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.)

Version 0.2 artefact.  At present (due to it being a work in progress)
we are most interested in English (which again supports a lot of
people, though not everyone).  It will not reach version 1 without
supporting these things.

>  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.

GenBooks are supported, but not displayed by default because that puts
too many windows on the screen.  Go to the "Other Books" menu
(hopefully more intelligible to users than "GenBooks") and click on
"Show other books" (or something similar - I don't actually have the
software running).

>  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.

Fair enough.  I was going by the number I use in e-Sword vs. the
number I use with Sword.

>  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).

Fair enough.  Legality is certainly important.


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