Bible Software Review
Bible Software Review
Version reviewed: 12.0.2
Cost: $60 - $800
At A Glance (1-5)
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The Word 3
Bible Explorer 4
The SWORD Project
Bible Pro 12
Lightning Study Bible
QuickVerse was my very first Bible software ever. I think it was back at version 5 or so. It was awful. I bought the Deluxe package for $200, used it for about a month, then offloaded it as quickly as possible, losing about $80 on the deal. To be honest, QV does not have a good reputation, most likely due to experiences like mine. QuickVerse has had a number of owners and graphic overhauls since that time, and I was interested to see if there was any improvement.
The first thing that jumps out is the new Office 2007-style ribbon interface. If you are not familiar with this interface, it basically combines a menu bar with a tool bar. No longer is there a list of menu items where selecting one gives you a very long list of options, but instead the menu bar is more like a tab control, where selecting the tab will change the toolbar to show only the buttons related to that tab item. For instance, selecting the Edit menu tab will change all the tool bar icons to show things like Font attributes, paragraph settings, cut, copy, paste, etc. This eliminates long lists of obscure options on the menu item, and tons of confusing buttons. On the other hand, at times it feels like you can't find that one option you know was there yesterday.
When you first open a set of books, they open as tabbed books on a single pane. This means you are viewing one book at a time, and must select another tab to read a different open book. The Window tab on the ribbon bar provides a number of various Study views that will automatically rearrange the panes accordingly. For instance there is a Default Layout, a Bible Reading Layout, Commentary Reading Layout, etc. However, I did not find these very useful - the did not translate into anything useful. I found it much more useful to open the books I desired, then select the "Tile Vertically" option, which simply lists the books left to right in columns. This was very nice (once you close all associated table of contents which open by default for each book), and much more conducive to study, especially if you have a wide monitor.
One thing I always like to see in Bible software is to double-click on any word in any text and have it appear in a previously-defined dictionary book. QV does not have this feature, though if you right-click on a word you can perform a look up. In fact, not only can you look up the word inside a dictionary book in the program, but you can also choose to look up the word in any number of internet dictionaries/encyclopedias, such as Wikipedia, Encarta, and Britannica. If that doesn't flip your lid you can also choose to search in an internet search engine such as Google or Yahoo. In fact, the internet factors into QV in a major way, as you will see later.
The interface is very attractive. There are dozens of options for styles, fonts, and colors. The icons are very crisp and contemporary, and the ribbon feature, once you get used to it, is very effective. However, as good as the form is, the function often falls short.
For instance, at first I thought there was no place to type in a verse to jump to. However it is under the Search ribbon. It works fine, but a feature used as often as this should always be present on the interface; I don't want to have to always click on the Ribbon tab, and then click into the text box, to jump to a verse. Unfortunately, the other alternative is to use the tree view of the Bible books in the table of contents. This is bad enough, but is made worse by a terrible design decision. When you open up the book and chapter, the next level is not the verses, but the section headings (also known as pericopes, and are often arbitrary and different across versions). For instance, here is a small excerpt from the contents of 1 John:
If I wanted to view verse 18 of chapter 2, which heading do I open next? I have no idea. I have to open them all to see where my verse lies. Sorry, but that's just dumb.
On a related note, once you are situated in the relevant passage, you cannot click on a verse in the Bible view to jump to that verse. You must scroll through the passage until you arrive at the verse, or choose the verse from the Table of Contents. It's not bad, just not the best.
While we are talking negatives, I have to mention the verse popup "feature." Similar to most of the packages reviewed, placing your mouse cursor over a Bible reference will show that verse in a popup window. Most software packages that employ this feature utilize a very small delay between the time you put your mouse over the link and the appearance of the popup window. This is done to make sure you are actually hovering over the reference in question. QV does not employ any such delay. So what does this mean? It means that as I move my mouse across the interface I am treated to a dizzying number of popups appearing all over the place (along with their associated "click" noise). I don't
to see all those popups, I'm just trying to get from one side of the screen to the other. I have never had such a little thing be so absolutely annoying. Since there is no preference to set the delay time I actually had to turn the feature off, which is a major disappointment because it actually is very useful when you want to see the linked verses in a popup without jumping to that text.
It is also irritating that commentary sets are not linked. For instance, the Life Application Commentary series covers 17 books. If I wanted to have them linked to what I am studying, I have to open each one separately as needed; it does not happen automatically as I believe it should.
But, let's end on a good note. Not only does right-clicking on a word give you the option to look it up in a dictionary or on the internet, but you can have the word pronounced for you as well. This can be a godsend when preaching on Numbers 1, for instance. In all, 6,500 words are available for proper pronunciation.
As already discussed, in the Search ribbon is the ability to jump to a specific verse. You also have the option of five different kinds of searching:
Search Books. This is the one that usually will be used the most. The search dialog that appears here gives you nearly every option you could want. You can search in the active book, all opened books, or any set of books in the library. You have a myriad of options, such as whole words, a thesaurus search, search only Jesus' words, or the utilization of operators (AND, OR, etc.) to create complex searches. The one thing that is missing is the ability to define a set of books to search. If I always want to search in two Bibles and three of my favorite commentaries, I always have to select them each time. Search time is descent, and QV provides a nice pane showing the results sectioned off by book. I can also save my search results for future use; another nice touch.
The other search options work in a similar manner: Analytical Greek Search, Search Annotations (user notes), and Library Titles. The titles search is a nice little feature, you can actually look for the *title* of a book, not the contents. For a large library this can be a lifesaver.
Finally, the BCV (Bible-Chapter-Verse) Search is really sort of lame and unnecessary, as it mimics the BCV tree view where you can jump to a specific verse.
There is a strong set of resources available for all QuickVerse editions. Desired resources can be purchased easily through the interface itself.
There is a nice set of Bibles available, with the notable exception of the NIV, which doesn't appear to be available. AS the biggest-selling Bible in the country, this may be a big gap for you. However, other excellent translations are available such as the NASB and the ESV, to name just a couple.
Dictionaries, Study Notes, Maps, are in abundance. However I think the product is weak with available commentaries, especially when compared to it's direct competitors Logos and WORDSearch.
You can enter your own notes for a given verse. QV calls these annotations. But I will continue to refer to them as "notes" because it is so much easier to type. Notes are associated with a specific book. On one hand, this is nice because I can add my own two cents to a commentary entry, stating whether I agree with the author or not, and why. On the other hand, this is a major flaw, because if I enter notes on a verse associated with one Bible version, those notes will not appear if I am viewing the same verse in another version. I must either duplicate the notes, or always have one specific version open and put all my notes against that. In practice, this is what most of us would do anyway, but for the times when I want to view the passage in another version it would be nice if my notes were readily available.
The Notes editor also leaves much to be desired. There are no formatting or usage buttons of any kind on the editor, it is simply a blank pad of paper. I uncovered some basic formatting functions such as bold, italics, and underline (using Ctrl-B, I, and U), but for the most part, it is just plain text. One totally irritating behavior with the editor is the fact that there is no word wrap. So, you either have to always use the scroll bar, or, you must hit the [Enter] key for artificial line breaks. But since your notes window may be sized differently based on your screen layout, either way looks terrible. A basic editor component is such an easy thing to implement I am baffled as to why it isn't present.
QuickVerse does allow you to author your own integrated books right out of the chute. You do not need to purchase an extra product or license. You decide whether the book is topic-based or verse-based. Once you do that you can easily make entries for the specific topic or verse. Then your book will automatically be linked as appropriate. So, if I am creating my own commentary, it will follow the verse I am reading, provided I have created a corresponding entry in my commentary. User Books can also be incorporated into the Search options. The editor for creating your entries is much more powerful than the notes editor. I have no clue why they simply don't use the same one. One very nice feature about the User Book editor is that it will automatically detect verse references and change them to a link. Nicely done.
But QuickVerse's extensibility does not stop here. As if the ability to create your own books was not enough, QV seamlessly integrates PDF files and Web pages. PDF files can be seamlessly added to the library, and viewable right alongside your other resources. Ditto for Web pages. You simply add the URL of the web pages to your library, and they are available at the click of a button. Finally, you can also incorporate RSS feeds into the interface. The ability to integrate PDF files is huge, as many people I know have huge libraries of PDF documents. Also, many official research papers and such are now published in this format.
However, I was trying to determine the usefulness of viewing online web pages and RSS feeds directly inside the interface. I guess I can see how, if you had some Bible or theological reference blogs or sites that it might be useful. But I am leery of the internet in general, and I know it is silly, but I'm not sure there is a major need to incorporate the web at this level. Maybe I'm just being shortsighted, I'm sure many will appreciate these features.
FAQs, updates, and a problem submission form is available online. Before I installed QuickVerse I sent an email to the sales address that was never returned. Tech support is mainly provided via telephone, but I did not attempt to do this.
External support is nil. There are no forums, user groups, or any user community to speak of. If you have a problem, you are basically on your own and at the mercy of QuickVerse tech support.
QuickVerse 2008 is available in five editions, from $60 to $800. As usual, the bigger the product you can afford, the more value you get. However, I found the product to be lacking in overall usefulness. QV has potential, and I really like the ribbon interface, and a number of nice features that have been implemented. But I'm not sure it is worth the price of admission. It is unfortunate that a demo product is not available so you can give it a test run before making a decision. Even at the low end you have to shell out 60 clams to even see if you like the product.
Here is a list of the boxed sets and their retail price:
In the end, QuickVerse is very much like a few girls I dated in college. Very attractive, and you wouldn't be embarrassed to be seen with them in public. But the more time you spend with them the more you wish you were with someone else.
Copyright, 2002, 2008
Email me at:
Jerry [ at ] Fostertribe [ dot ] org