Mac Bible Software Update November 2005

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Sorting out all the Recent Developments
by David Lang

An Eventful Year

There was a time when the only news about Bible software that a Mac user could expect was that Accordance had released a program upgrade or new modules, or that the release date for an OS X version of Online Bible had slipped yet again. This year, however, the Mac Bible Software industry has been chock full of newsworthy developments. I'll try to cover each of them in turn.

Windows Ports: Done, Delayed, and Dumped

In March of this year, the news broke that three Windows Bible Software developers had plans to port their software to Mac. First, Logos announced that they would be releasing a Mac version in December of this year. QuickVerse then announced that they would release a Mac version in the Spring. Finally, Brandon Staggs, the developer of a shareware program called SwordSearcher, announced his intentions to port to Mac.

QuickVerse, which had been quietly working on a Mac port for a couple of years, did manage to release its Mac version by the end of June, though without a few promised features. (See CMUG's [QuickVerse.html First Look] at QuickVerse Mac and the [QuickVerseReview.html Review] by Rino Datilo.) A few weeks ago, QuickVerse released a free update to version 1.1. Oddly, there appears to be no documentation anywhere as to what exactly is included in this update, but users have reported two enhancements:

  • When you drag your mouse over a hypertexted Scripture reference, a translucent window pops up displaying the text of the verses cited. You no longer have to click the link to display the passage.
  • The minimum window size has been reduced, so that it is now possible to display multiple windows side by side without overlapping them.

Logos, which originally promised that their Mac product would be available this December, has recently announced that it will be delayed until some time next Spring. At the just-ended Society of Biblical Literature conference, the Logos booth featured a large banner which read, "Mac Lovers, It's Here," beneath which stood a PowerBook running an early prototype. A Logos representative explained that they had been working on the "back end," and so had little of the "front end" interface to show. The prototype shown could display the text of Logos books, but was not yet capable of searching, hyperlinking, or generating reports.

Brandon Staggs, who chronicled his Mac development efforts in his blog, recently announced that he has abandoned development of a Mac version of SwordSearcher.

Online Bible for OS X

After a long wait, Online Bible users now have access to a version of Online Bible for OS X. Though not yet officially released, the OS X version has been in public beta since July of this year and appears to be both stable and fully functional. The verse insertion FKey has been replaced by an OS X Service. As such, it only works with Cocoa word processors, but it is fast and effective. The public beta can be downloaded here.

Accordance Bible Software: Program Updates and New Modules

OakTree Software has released no less than five free updates to Accordance Bible Software this year, adding support for Quartz text-rendering, a Dashboard widget for rapid verse insertion, numerous enhancements to the Bible Atlas, support for a new uncial Greek font, and various minor tweaks and fixes.

In addition to the changes to the Accordance application itself, OakTree Software has released quite a few new Accordance modules in recent weeks:

  • Die Mac Studienbible CD-ROM. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine my employers would sell a CD-ROM with the words "Die Mac" in the title, but that's actually German for "The Mac Study Bible." Published by the German Bible Society, this CD-ROM contains German Bibles and dictionaries, as well as untagged versions of the Greek New Testament and Hebrew Bible—both with the accompanying textual apparatuses (apparati?). It is the textual apparatuses which have particular appeal to non-German speakers who have long wanted to evaluate alternate readings in the Biblical manuscripts.
  • The Pillar New Testament Commentary. An eight-volume critical commentary by such evangelical luminaries as D.A. Carson, Leon Morris, Douglas Moo, and others.
  • Several new grammatically tagged Greek texts, including Codex Bezae, the Works of Josephus, the Works of Philo, and the Apocryphal Gospels. English translations of Josephus, Philo, and the Apocryphal Gospels are also available.
  • Introducing Biblical Hebrew, a first year Hebrew grammar by Allen Ross.

iBible and Bible Reader Free: Plans to Go Cocoa

Some time ago, Leif Wright, the developer of iBible, announced his intentions to rewrite iBible as a Cocoa application which would be able to read standard XML files. Consequently, iBible has not been updated in two years. Yet just recently, Wright has posted some screenshots of iBible 3 to his web-site, demonstrating new features such as easy switching among multiple versions, Strong's numbers and notes as clickable links, and support for non-Biblical texts such as the Koran and Book of Mormon. While it appears from the list of features yet to be implemented that the release of iBible 3 may still be some time in coming, it seems clear that a great deal of progress has already been made.

Similarly, the developer of Bible Reader Free has also announced plans to rewrite in Cocoa. He explains on his web-site that version 0.99 will likely remain "the final version for the foreseeable future" while he works on a Cocoa version.

MacSword: Steady Improvements

MacSword, the OS X front end to the open source Sword Project, received a significant update in June of this year. Since then, the program has received several additional incremental updates, bringing the current version to 1.2.1B. Enhancements include faster and more powerful searching, parallel display of Bible texts and commentaries, and the ability to create one's own personal commentary modules. For more, see CMUG's [MacSword1-2.html First Look] at the update, as well as this review at Bible Software Review.

The Best is Yet to Come

Without a doubt, this has been the most newsworthy year in Mac Bible Software in at least a decade. Yet depending on how things shape up, next year may prove to be even more newsworthy. Will Logos be able to meet its new delivery date with a product that is sufficiently Mac-like? What's in store for the next major upgrade to Accordance, due next Spring? Will QuickVerse or MacSword or iLumina be upgraded next year? What difference will rewriting in Cocoa make to iBible and Bible Reader Free? Depending on the answers to those questions, the future may prove very bright for those who wish to study the Bible using their Macs.


Originally posted by David Lang on the CMUG website on November 29, 2005