Dluxe's World

Thursday, April 26

(Mostly) Loco for Logos [3]

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Well, welcome to the third post in my 'early review' of Logos Bible Software's Scholar's Library. I really hope to wrap things up today, which I guess makes this 'Part III' the blog equivalent of Return of the Jedi... That's cool.

So, in the previous two posts I laid out the reasons I decided to purchase Logos and what I've found to be some strengths/neat features in my rather early explorations of the tool. If you're coming in late, check the old posts via the links at the top. They'll help you frame what I'm about to say in this rather long post.

Today, I'm going to try to answer three remaining questions starting with:

Now that you've outlined the cool features of Logos, are there any things that have been disappointing?

Of course there are... Nothing is perfect, and everyone has their own preferences that would cause another person to grind their teeth to dust. Please remember that I've not had a ton of experience with any other bible software, so I can't really compare how BW or some other software handles these things. Logos may be best of breed, for all I know. With that preface on the record, here's a list of things that I wish were different:

1) The window management is annoying. I really like what Logos has attempted to do by using small 'tabs' to allow you to navigate through resources that are stacked on top of one another. It works well... However, there seems to be no 'intuition' behind how new windows are positioned if/when the open.

For example, I usually have the ESV, the NA27, a parallel bible window, and at least one commentary open all on top of one another. Logos provides me the cool 'tabs' for navigating (click image to en-big-gen). However, if I open a new resource it pops up in the Logos 'default' position. If I open a slew of books at once, I have to resize each of them in order to have them added to the tab row. Small issue, but really annoying for me. It would seem that if all the books currently open are in the same position, new ones should open that way by default.

Again, while this bugs me to no end it is probably exactly the way other people like it.

2) Customizing Logos is not always intuitive. Logos has training videos that walk you through the basics of setting up Logos and getting to work. In the process of doing so, you discover a lot of the places to change bells into whistles. However, anything beyond basic customization (what happens when you hover over a Greek word, for example) is really difficult to find.

No doubt this is due, in part, to the power of the tool... There are so many things going on and so many things possible that organizing all that information into an interface is problematic. Nonetheless, some things that seem like they should work just don't. For example, I downloaded a pbb file of a commentary set. Knowing the limitations of pbbs, I'd still like to have this set searched (as a commentary) in the Passage Guide. One would figure that there's some attribute flag on the book that marks it as a commentary. Intuition tells a windows user to right-click on the book and look for 'properties'. No luck. The best solution I've found so far is to re-create a customized commentary collection including that book.

3) Speaking of pbbs, it's a real shame that mark-ups don't work in them. I understand the reason here - mark-ups, I assume, rely on a lot of tagging to 'locate' themselves within a document. A pbb probably doesn't have the same amount of tagging and thus can't support mark-ups. While this is understandable, it seems that the book-builder toolset should, by design, build books to support at least some level of annotation. Doesn't have to be the full shebang, but something would be helpful.

But, my biggest gripe is:
4) I'm disappointed with the what's available to purchase for my library outside of the base packages. Now I need to be fair here... Logos did nothing deceptive here - Their catalog is out on the web for one and all to view. The trick is that I like Logos now andI've started to see what else I can buy digitally. I'm finding that a lot of what I want isn't coming out for Logos (at least not yet).

For example: I'm one of the young and restless Reformed types. And, if you're reading this blog for any reason other than having followed the Logos link here, you're prolly Reformed too. Why else would you be here?

Outside of John MacArthur, there's not a lot of titles available from the people I like. Logos has one book about (not by) J.I. Packer in the shop. None of the Banner of Truth editions, none of the 9Marks stuff, none of CJ's books. Shocker of all is that there's only one Piper book (Pleasures of God) available... Piper always struck me as the one Reformed guy who all the non-Reformed people seemed to like! A glance through the pre-pub and announcement lists shows more of the same... What makes this most bummeristic to me is that I just learned (after buying Logos) about BibleExplorer seems to be building stronger alliances with Crossway and other christian publishers who produce the titles I own/want.

I know that there will be tons of people who shrug at this, but it is a big deal to me. I write this here for three reasons:
  • To encourage readers to scope out their likes and who has those books available electronically before purchasing.
  • To appeal to Logos to continue to build relationships with other publishers in the Reformed space. I recognize that you don't want to niche your product to Reformissialvinuationalists like me, but intentionally broadening your offerings in that area can't hurt (remember that CT story?).
  • Urge readers, like me, to contact publishers we like and ask them to consider making more materials available in the Libronix format.
Ok. That's all for the gripes. Except for the last one, all are pretty minor. And, truthfully, if I consider Logos to be strictly a bible study program, the last one is minor too. The trick is that I predicated my purchase on a completely different criteria - namely that Logos is far more than just bible study software. Moving on, then...

What other other cool learning resources have you found since you started using Logos?

In the interest of getting to the finish line, I'll shorten the exposition of all these:
  • Every Logos owner, but especially n00bs, should have the Logos blog plugged into their RSS reader. The posts Daniel and the rest of the team make show great tips, tricks, and creative ways to leverage the power of Logos in your study. Top notch stuff.*
  • I make a habit of checking almost all of the Logos newsgroups at least every couple days. Just lurking will give you some great ideas and insights into using Logos. And, as I've mentioned before, posting a question (provided you're polite and clear) will get you a quick, accurate answer.
  • Watch the Logos training videos... Yeah, I know - Duh.
  • If you're really in a bind, email the Logos support people. They were fast and extremely helpful. Logos seems to really, genuinely value their customers - and that's worth a ton right there.
  • I've heard several people recommend Morris Proctor's blog (I guess he's a Logos ninja) for good reading. He posts weekly and the stuff is good, but it's not been as helpful to me. Your milage may vary.
  • Try to find challenging application for using the software right away. Start using it for your lesson/sermon prep and just stay near to an internet connect so you can fire off a question. You learn faster by doing.
So, let's put this puppy to bed:
Overall, how do you feel about your purchase? And what happens next?

Overall, I'm really quite pleased with Logos. Aside from the 'title availability' issue I note above, I have no regrets... Even with that main gripe in mind, I don't think I would do anything any differently. Ask me again in a year or two.

If I was speaking to a new buyer, my only caution would be to spend a little more time identifying and considering less-known alternative tools out there. I am really pretty confident that, unless you have very niche-y interests, Logos will still emerge as a superior tool. Still, it's important to do the legwork up front in order to be a good steward of your money and to protect (as much as is possible) against the inevitable tinge of buyer's remorse that might slink in.

In the meantime, I'm totally geeking out with my new toy... er, tool. Logos is extremely powerful and ridiculously flexible. I imagine that my satisfaction with the features of the software will actually continue to grow as I learn the guts a bit more and customize the program to suit me a bit better. As I mentioned, perhaps the highest praise I can offer is that I've already placed an order for some other books to add to my library. I'm trying, as much as possible, to follow my own advice and "say it with cash".

Whatever choice you make, let's all remember that the object of our study, the Bible, is the main thing... Cool software is neat and can be helpful. But it is only God's word - whether printed, projected, or proclaimed - that can really accomplish the important work of calling us to Christ and fixing us by the power of the Holy Spirit. There are faithful men of God who've plumbed the depths of Scriptures long before there were computers. Let's not allow technology's power to make us lazy in our pursuit of God's truth.

If you have other questions, feel free to post them in the comments... I'll be happy to interact with you folks as much as I can! Also, if anyone's looking for someone to preach or lead a Bible study - I just happen to someone who "has laptop, will travel". *wink*

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  • Great write-up. You really hit some of the issues head on in terms of improvements and gave any careful reader plenty to work with in case they were investigating Logos Bible Software.

    You mention the PBB builder. Don't fail to link to John McComb's awesome builder-builder program. Using this editor someone who has the Logos Personal Book Builder addon can do a ton of the preliminary tagging.
    And now at the profound risk of being accused of shameless self promotion I'll offer up a massive list of free PBB resources.

    By Anonymous tcblack, at 2:10 PM, April 26, 2007  

  • TC,

    Thanks for the tip re: builder-builder. I'd heard of the tool, but I don't actually make PBBs so I have had no interaction with it.

    And thanks for the shameless plug. I've added a couple links to StillTruth in the posts (like I intended originally). If you're reading this thread, TC is right. If you're interested in PBB files, check out StillTruth's awesome collection.

    By Blogger HeavyDluxe, at 2:25 PM, April 26, 2007  

  • While I agree to some extent about the book selection (I would love for Jacob Hantla to be the selector of the next books Logos was going to do) there are some reformed resources you did not name.

    It may be that for one reason or another, some of the following are no longer available, but in my library I have Packer's "Concise Theology", "Growing in Christ", "Knowing God", "A Passion for Faithfulness", and "A Quest for Godliness." There is a whole RC Sproul digital library that includes "Grace Alone", "Faith Alone", "Holiness of God", and "Chosen by God".

    There are books by Boice, Pink, Hodge (both AA and Charles), and Shedd's Dogmatic Theology. But I agree that there are notable holes (Piper, etc.) that I hope get filled in over time.

    By Blogger Taliesin, at 8:23 PM, April 26, 2007  

  • I really enjoyed reading all three episodes of your review! I understand what you are saying about "not finding certain books", but I do commend Logos Bible Software on having a vast collection of books available. The latest purchase I made was the Word Biblical Commentary 58 volume set. I hope by the time I get this collection digested some of the books we don't see available will be ready for purchase.

    Thanks again!

    By Blogger lu, at 11:13 AM, April 27, 2007  

  • Lu,

    by the time I get this [58 volume] collection digested...

    Yeesh... The heat death of the universe would occur before I could digest 58 volumes. :-)

    Thanks for the comment, Lu.

    By Blogger HeavyDluxe, at 11:51 AM, April 27, 2007  

  • When you refer to the books available, are you refering to just the ones that are from the Logos/Libronix website? I have Logos, and have over 4000 titles in my library, including about 10 full commentary sets including Word, Preacher's, Believers, NIV, ICC, Crossway, NAC, Pulpit, and of course Wesley's notes and the bulk of them have not come directly from Libroix/Logos. Check out the Nelson Ministries website...you just might find some good finds... http://www.nelsonministryservices.com/

    By Blogger Josh D., at 2:09 PM, May 04, 2007  

  • I must also add, that despite the HUGE help that Logos has been to me in Seminary, for my preaching, exegesis, and Biblical studies classes, I still gravitate to BibleWorks for any Bible searching and ALL use of Hebrew and Greek.

    By Blogger Josh D., at 2:14 PM, May 04, 2007  

  • Josh,

    Good to hear from you again! Sorry for the delay in replying to your comments, but I was taking an 'off'(line) weekend.

    Working backwards:
    I still gravitate to BibleWorks for any Bible searching and ALL use of Hebrew and Greek.

    Would you care to provide some more details re: why? Like I mentioned, I have no real experience with Bibleworks, so others might benefit greatly from more explanation. Personally, I'd love to understand the difference more myself!

    When you refer to the books available, are you refering to just the ones that are from the Logos/Libronix website?

    Primarily I was, though I was/am aware of all the resources over on the Nelson site.

    My main point was to note that there is a gap in the Logos offerings, IMNSHO, surrounding current thinkers with a reformed bent. Though the Nelson website has a lot of stuff, it doesn't really fill that gap either.

    ...and of course Wesley's notes...

    What Asbury student would be without them? :-)

    Thanks... Dluxe

    By Blogger HeavyDluxe, at 10:25 PM, May 06, 2007  

  • I just feel that BibleWorks is far superior in so far as working through the Greek and Hebrew grammar. It's difficult to explain, unless you actually use it. You can hover over a word and pop up the Greek or Hebrew lexical forms, roots, parsing info, etc of the words. The searching is far better to pull up various versions of translations...I will work through giving you better differences, but read my blog and you will see why I can't now :-)

    Anyway, my main use of Logos is for the commentaries and other books that are out there. I don't use Logos for any "Bible" (read: Greek, Hebrew, exegesis, Bible searching, etc) functions, except for commentary work and looking at external resources. I feel for that reason Logos is great, but once you use BibleWorks, you will never be saddened, and will stick with it. Plus....it's cheaper, but there are not the resources for BW that there are for Logos, but that is not the function of BW either. In my mind, the two programs should not be compared in the same category. One is a powerful Bible tool (BW) and one is a powerful book reader, and resource library. BW saves you time in searching the Bible and using lexicons (and actually knowing Greek of Hebrew!), and Logos saves you time in the Library.

    The two should be used side by side, and not necessarily argued about which is better, because each serves it's own purpose. No pastor or seminary student should be without BOTH of them on their computer.

    By Blogger Josh D., at 12:37 AM, May 08, 2007  

  • There are J. I. Packer books...


    I hope that helps, you should have his Concise Theology in the Scholar's Library...


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:51 PM, May 22, 2007  

  • Josh-

    While I'm not one to say a person should not own BibleWorks, I am an avid defender of Logos when it comes to ensuring that its capabilities are accurately represented.

    Logos is far more than just a powerful book reader. I get back to trying BibleWorks every now and then, and every time I come back to it, I find less and less that it is capable of which Logos is not. Again, this isn't a matter of wanting to bash BibleWorks. I just want to ensure that the capabilities of Logos are adequately represented.

    Last I compared them, the only thing that I found BW could do that Logos couldn't was to achieve the unique speed in searching that BW does. Since you are a more avid user, however, you are in a good position to correct me on that.

    Personally I am a reader and translator of both Greek and Hebrew. I also teach exegesis using Bible software, so feel free to get specific about the things that makes Logos more of a book reader than a power Bible tool when compared to BW. I don't like to misrepresent either product to my students, and lately I've switched to telling them that owning both is unnecessary, even though BW is very fine software and has the advantage of being geared "out of the box" toward readers of Greek and Hebrew. At this stage in Logos' development, however, I have given up saying, "No pastor or seminary student should be without BOTH of them on their computer." If you can tell me why I should be saying it, however, I would greatly appreciate it.

    BTW, everyone, I just came back from Camp Logos II, and the folks from the Logos office told us that Logos 4 is going to have a dynamic indexing service. When that comes out, it will likely close the gap when it comes to speed of searching, so, if you're a regular Logos user, that's very exciting news.

    By Blogger Aaron, at 5:45 PM, September 01, 2007  

  • Just FYI, Logos has The complete works of John Piper, and are getting ready to release a large portion of his Sermons.

    They also have:

    Charles Hodge
    John Knox (large compilation)
    John Calvin
    A.W. Pink
    R.C. Sproul
    Martin Lloyd-Jones

    Just to name a few.

    Am I disappointed that they Don't have R.L. Dabney, James Henley Thornwell B.B. Warfield and others of the reformed bent? Sure, but they still have a larger collection of Reformed (Presbyterian, Anglican , Baptist or otherwise) works than any other System I have seen.

    By Anonymous Mark J, at 7:52 PM, September 28, 2007  

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