Bible Software Review
Bible Software Review
April 26, 2008
At A Glance (1-5)
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Theophilos' goal is to create "Multilingual Application for Bible & Christian Study" that is free with no strings attached. Theophilos was created by one person in Slovakia, but in 2007 was purchased by a group of American Christian developers who wanted to expand the product by incorporating both free classics and for-fee contemporary works.
The first thing I noticed about Theophilos is the very annoying sound on startup, which thankfully can be turned off (are you reading this, Logos?). The screen is laid out in a very standard format - a navigator on the left with Library, Bible, and Results tabs. Tiled windows open up as you open various Bibles and books. One nice thing about opening multiple windows is that Theophilos is not set for just two columns, as is some Bible software. This means instead of squishing the window more in order to fit it on a busy desktop, the software will open up another column. Since I have a 22" wide screen, this feature is very nice.
Another nice touch is that Theophilos keeps a history of lookups for each open book where it applies, making it very easy to go back to previous topics or items.
You can also attach an image or a recording to any verse, which could be really cool. I say "could be" because there is no visual indicator whatsoever that you have done so. Therefore you must hit F9 (audio) or F10 (image) on each verse to see if there is item attached, making the feature mostly useless.
Another odd design decision is that the module information for each module is stored in editable text files. When you view module information, Theophilos simply launches Notepad with the text, which you can edit, delete, save, whatever you want. I would think there should be a more built-in method to handle module information.
Theophilos 3 gives you the ability to view html files without requiring Internet Explorer installed. You can link to external sources, as well as to internal Theophilos modules.
I had a hard time opening up windows in locations I wanted them. I could manually move the windows around, but there is no "snap" feature, so it was hard to align them up perfectly. If I hit one of the [Tile] buttons to align the windows automatically, it would put them in a seemingly random order. For instance, sometimes the Bible window was placed in the upper right corner, other times in the lower left, which was frustrating because I always wanted it in the upper left.
No buttons are available on the windows themselves, which leads to some frustration trying to find certain functionality. For instance, I added a new personal Topic book, but for the longest time could not figure out how to add new topics. I finally realized that the [Add topic] button was on the toolbar, along with buttons to save or open.
Some modules, such as the KJV with Strong's, open a copyright box that you must click out of the first time you reference that modules in a Theophilos session. Talk about annoying.
But the most glaring omission is the lack of any inline linking in any book. Verses do not link to a Bible module, Strong's numbers do not link to the Strong's dictionary, etc. Combined with the fact that there is no location that I could find to just type in a verse and jump to it (verse manipulation is via dropdown widgets only), getting to the verse you want is much more difficult than it should be.
The interface isn't horrible, it just isn't great. For instance, there isn't any text box in which to just type a verse - you have to find it by traversing numerous dropdowns (book, chapter, verse) each time. The interface feels like it would be right at home in Windows 95. There are a lot of great ideas that just aren't implemented to their full potential.
Theophilos utilizes a Finder tool to search Bibles or the Library. It gets the job done, but is a bit underwhelming. Searching the Bible opens a window with the resulting verses containing the search object in red. Searching the Library will pull the results into the Results tab in the Navigation pane, where you double-click the result to open up the window where the serach object is found. There is also a separate Search document button, which is very handy for searching the document that currently has focus.
Theophilos adds the standard freeware Bible software packages out of the chute - KJV, Eaton's Bible Dictionary, Matthew Henry's Bible Commentary, Treasure of Scripture Knowledge, etc.
Extra resources are a mixed bag. While the product claims 375 add-on modules, the number of useful modules in my opinion is actually pretty low. While there is a surprising set of modern Bible translations available at excellent prices (NIV, ESB, NASB, etc.), the number of commentaries (9) and dictionaries (10) is very thin, and none of them recent.
Resources are ordered and downloaded directly from the website outside of the program.
There are some user-created resources sites available as well, such as:
You can create your own Topic and Note books directly from within the program. Theophilos also provides a tool called Scribe, sold separately, from which you can create native Theophilos books. It is a solid tool, and adds significant value to the product. Scribe costs $30 for the basic edition, $200 for the professional. It is nice to have a special section of the website devoted to user uploads created with Scribe.
Official support is provided through an email address and a FAQ. There are no forums provided that I could find, either official or otherwise. A mailing list, however, is managed by Theophilos. You get a 20% discount off new titles if you are a member of the mailing list.
I fired off a support question at 4:30 in the morning, and actually had a personal answer in my inbox at 8:37am. Very nice.
There is decent value here. The core engine and most of the resources are free. A good set of modern translations are available for cheap. Currently the website is running a promotion, for $129.99 you can download anything you want. However, only purchasing the modules that I feel would be useful would still fall below that price.
Copyright, 2002, 2008
Email me at:
Jerry [ at ] Fostertribe [ dot ] org