Dluxe's World

Wednesday, April 25

(Mostly) Loco for Logos [2]

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Well, the first part of this review got picked up on the Logos blog, so let me start by offering a welcome to the flood of readers who are clicking in. For the rest of you, you should catch up by reading the first part to this post here.

Picking up where we left off: I selected Logos as my Bible software package mainly because the idea of an integrated, interlinked digital library gave me geekbumps. Logos also seemed to be perfectly capable of doing hardcore interpretation/exegetical text-work even though other packages might be more 'optimized' for that pupose.* In the end, Logos seemed to offer surf and turf, so I jumped. I purchased the base Scholar's Library package then added BDAG/HALOT and Spurgeon/Calvin bundles for starters. (I'm also preparing to purchase a Carson package and Grudem's Systematic as soon as I get around to it.

So, in your opinion, what are the strengths of Logos now that you have it on your desktop?

Again, I'm still a newbie-user! So this list really represents "cool things I've found helpful so far with little/no customization" rather than an exhaustively informed list of power points. Also, I know some (if not most) are available in other packages - my intent isn't to offer an 'A vs. B' thing here. With all that out in the open...

1) The digital library concept largely delivers on its promise. First off, the resources that come from Logos (whether in the base packages or snapped-in later) are really very tightly integrated. A simple passage search quickly brings up a ton of grouped resources from your library. When you're reading a particular resource, references to other library books and passages are hyperlinked appropriately, so you find yourself very quickly moving out on a never ending trail of breadcrumbs. In addition, resources can be linked together (like a bible and a commentary) so they scroll in unison as you read. Search speeds are reasonable, given the amount of data that's being sifted and accessing specific texts from the search results is very fast.

On that note, the amount of material included in a package like the Scholar's Library is pretty ridiculous. It's true that a lot of the title count delta between different packages are probably things you don't really care about... For example, there is a big difference in title count between the Scholar's Library and the Silver edition. However, in looking closely, there were probably only a handful of those titles that really interested me. Nonetheless, the amount of resources that comes with any package is really impressive. People buying the entry-level pack won't be disappointed.

As mentioned before, the breadth of resources that can be linked in is as impressive as the functionality. To be able to quickly pull together a verse in a couple translations, a couple solid commentaries, and a Spurgeon sermon on the text is pretty simple and wicked cool. I'm just informed enough to know what my go-to resources are for studying a text. As such, I think I need to work to customize the searching a bit so I'm wasting less time plowing through resources I will rarely use. Still, the broad sweep has obvious benefits for other users.

One final note here: Logos makes citations a breeze for us as well. Clipping text into M$Word automatically gets footnoted and is formatted very nicely.

2) Personal Books (PBBs) are the absolute bomb. While the Logos books are great, the wealth of material out there in the public domain is massive. Logos offers a builder tool which allows you to mark-up, or mark-up and distribute, 'slimmed down' book files for Logos. Thanks to the folks in the PBB newsgroup and the crew at StillTruth, I've added a ton of solid Puritan stuff to my library for free. While these books are not as elegant nor as thoroughly tagged as a genuine, Libronix release, the wealth of material and the ease with which they can be added to your library is awesome. Check out this thread to get an idea what I mean...

3) The parallel bible and 'compare passage' functions are just fun. I'm a sucker for a good parallel Bible, but I haven't seen one in a long time that combines versions I like. Now, I can quickly bring up a particular passage and compare the readings in as many versions as I'd like. Assuming you choose solid translations, you should be able to get a good grasp on the text quickly.

If you switch to the COMPARE view, Logos highlights word choice differences between the texts.

4) The text markup tools are slick. If you ever borrow a book from me, you will see that it's well-marked. I'm constantly underlining, jotting notes in the margin, etc. Thankfully, you can do the same thing with eBooks in Logos. Logos has several different palettes which supply varied ways of marking up the text in any 'official' ebook (marking up pbbs is not supported). With it might be campy for some folks, I like how some of the visual markups 'mimic' what a real person would do... See how the pencil underline and highlighter aren't straight?

I've only recently started using the NOTES feature. But it's been handy. Basically you can link a note to a single book, to a verse in any bible, etc.

5) The ability to port your personal settings along with you. I currently have Logos installed on a computer at the office and one at home so I can 'be productive' in both places. The trick is that personalizations like new collections, mark-ups to text, and the like are stored on the local machine. So it's possible for my two computers to get out of sync with each other, and that would be sad.

Luckily, Logos stores these prefs in a folder under MyDocs. By simply porting that back and forth, I'm able to keep both computers running with the latest version of all my notes, etc. Even cooler, I've been told there's a way to hack Logos so it looks to a different disk (like a flash drive) for all those files. If that's true, then I could just port them around on my flash without needing to backup/overwrite all the time.

6) The 'fuzzy' and speed search features are teh awesomest. When I grew up, our church did some strange stuff. For example, when we 'memorized' scripture there were a lot of stars handed out for people who barely remembered half the verse. Worse is that we never had to remember the references for the verse we memorized. For a long time I could tell you that "God so loved the world", but I couldn't tell you where in the Bible that was.

Thank goodness for the fuzzy and speed search features in Logos. The speed search quickly lets me pull up verses containing words I know belong (in Greek or English). The fuzzy search uses words fed to it to rate possible matches in any book... This is especially useful to me when there's a hazy childhood memory of a verse somewhere that says something like "something".

7) Lastly, the Logos pro support and user community are really, really responsive and helpful. As I mentioned in the previous posts, each software package I looked at has it's core group of disciples who believe that [insert product here] can do no wrong and cuts bread better than a Ginsu. Usually these people are even more loopy re: a particular product than the company is...

Logos seems to break that mold... I've had a chance to interact three times with Logos support, and they have been immediately helpful and pleasant to deal with. Anyone who has ever tried tech support for some other product knows what a big deal this is. The staff there genuinely seems to love both their product and the customers. Could it be an act? Sure... But I'm willing to believe the illusion, aren't you?

In addition to the company, the Logos users overall seem to like the product they bought and freely offer information. Logos maintains some newsgroups to allow users to interact. There are certainly (valid) gripes and complaints being offered. However, the general tone is positive and questions are answered quickly and creatively. I think Logos appealled to some other people's inner-geek the same way it called to mine. As such, the forums and user community seems to always be trying something new or find some better way to do something. Logos seems to be listening and improving, by and large. And that's a good thing.

Well, I've rambled enough for now... Tomorrow, I'll air some of my disappointments with Logos and try to move us towards the end.

*I know there are some who would even say that Logos offers a superior toolset for this kinda of work (syntax-tagging, etc). At the surface, that strikes me as a bit of a 'homer' opinion, but I really can't judge since I'm not a hardcore scholar. I'd love to hear comments if you have 'em!

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  • Hello Sir,

    I work in sales here at Logos Bible Software and your article was great. I would love to help you with anything that you need to order in the future. Here is my contact info:

    Jared Bryant
    (800) 875-6467 Ext 2319

    Take care and talk to you soon!

    By Blogger The Bryants, at 2:05 PM, April 27, 2007  

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