As promised, here is your first glimpse of the WORDsearch modules for BibleWorks which are officially being released today. Thanks to Derek Kurth at WORDsearch I was provided gratis copies of the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels and the New Bible Dictionary for the purpose of this review.
The following modules are immediately available and can be purchased via WORDsearch’s website:
- Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit and Tremper Longman III), InterVarsity Press
- Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight, I. Howard Marshall), InterVarsity Press
- Dictionary of New Testament Background (Craig A. Evans and Stanley E. Porter), InterVarsity Press
- Dictionary of Paul and His Letters (Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin and Daniel G. Reid), InterVarsity Press
- Dictionary of the Later New Testament & Its Developments (Ralph P. Martin and Peter H. Davids), InterVarsity Press
- New Bible Commentary (Gordon J. Wenham, J. A. Motyer, D. A. Carson and R. T. France), InterVarsity Press
The focus of this review will be on the process of buying and using these modules in BibleWorks. I will not be commenting on the product itself (if you want to know whether you would like any of the books themselves, you can easily do searches for book reviews online. Needless to say all of these books are generally well-received among evangelicals.). Further questions and answers about the products can be given on this post.
I. On Purchasing WORDsearch modules for BibleWorks
Overall, the process for purchasing these new modules for BibleWorks is very straightforward. The one trick is that you will be buying them from WORDsearch’s website, not BibleWorks’ because they are WORDsearch’s product. The main link for the BibleWorks-ready resources is here. Once there, you simply add the resource to your shopping cart and check out. If you are new to WORDsearch you may have to create an online account, but if you’ve done shopping online before, that’s not a problem.
When you have paid for your product you will be sent to a receipt page (the receipt is also emailed to your registered email address). The receipt should look something like the following:
As you can see, you will be provided a link to the WORDsearch book installer for BibleWorks. You will also be given codes that you will need to use in order to download your books. Once the WORDsearch book installer loads, you will open that program and insert the codes. If for some reason your codes do not work (or you forget them), you can log into your WORDsearch account via this link and select the option “Unlock and Download eBooks”
Downloading the WORDsearch book installer is a simple process. You save the .exe file and when it has finished downloading, you run the program. The installer itself is only 1.7 MB, so it should not take long to download it even if you do not have an ultra-fast connection. If you have successfully downloaded and opened the book installer, you should see the following pop-up:
In the Customer ID, type in the first ID that you were given on your receipt, and in the password blank, write the password you were given on your receipt. Upon successfully validating your ID and password, the book installer will begin downloading your books and adding them to BibleWorks. [In my testing process, there were 2 or 3 times when the book installer seemed to "stall" and not work. I reported this to WORDsearch but since these stalls didn't happen every time, there wasn't a fix made that I know of. So if you experience a stall in your download, my recommendation is to just keep waiting (up to a minute) and it should resolve itself, at least it did for me. If you seem unable to download the books, your first resort is to email WORDsearch tech support (not BibleWorks).] This is what you want to see happening:
Shortly to be followed by:
And when that is done, all of the installing has been done for you. There is nothing else you need to do other than start BibleWorks! No unzipping or relocating files. It was incredibly smooth and WORDsearch did a great job in making this so easy.
How will you know the files installed correctly? Open up BibleWorks and pull down the Resources menu. If you purchased one of the dictionaries, it should show up under a new menu item called “Dictionaries” (*not* under “Bible Dictionaries” - which refers to BibleWorks’ default dictionaries) or “Commentaries” if you purchased the New Bible Commentary.
If you have made it this far and your new resources show up you know you have installed them correctly. Congratulations!
II. Using the WORDsearch modules in BibleWorks
**Before using your WORDsearch modules, I would also recommend downloading the WORDsearch font installer. I found a few places in the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels where characters were not being printed because I did not have the proper fonts (for a check, see the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels under “Abbreviations” and then pick “Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Texts.” If you haven’t downloaded the WORDsearch fonts, the “Q” for Qumran will not show up.).
There are a few different ways you can use these new resources in BibleWorks, but you will find that they are basically used just like any other module in BibleWorks. If you simply want to open one of these modules to read an article or look something up, you can open it up under the Resources menu (shown above). The WORDsearch module will then pop up. The format is identical to other BibleWorks modules, based on the HTML Help format. You can resize the window if you want to, navigate by a contents pane, search with a search tab or bookmark favorite articles with the favorites tab.
All of those options should be readily apparent above. In the contents pane, all of the articles are listed alphabetically as you would expect. Within articles cross-references are linked, so anytime the article says “(see X Article)” you can click on it and it will immediately open to that article, no extra navigation or clicking required. Within the articles, major subheadings are also linked at the beginning of the article, so in the picture above, the article has 9 sub-headings listed and you can either navigate to them by scrolling down in the window or clicking any one of the headings on that page. Another standard feature that you’ve come to expect in BibleWorks modules is that Scripture references are tagged so that hovering over them will bring up the text within the module, and these new modules do not disappoint in this realm.
As always, if you find a verse that you want to do more work on, you can also click on it and it will be loaded into the Browse Window in BibleWorks.
The modules themselves do not have any special automatic bibliographic features. On the one hand it is very easy to copy and paste text from these modules into any text editor of your choice, but it will not instantly create a citation for you. However, it does retain page numbers within the module, which can be helpful if you want to either look it up in the real book version or cite according to page number.
One final feature that deserves mention is how you can use these new modules within the Resource Summary window in BibleWorks. This is one of the greatest strengths of the verse tagging that has been done on these modules. If you are examining a verse of the Bible in the Browse Window and then look at your Resource Summary window you can see whether any of your current resources mention that verse. These new resources will show up in your Resource Summary window any time they contain a verse that is mentioned and clicking on that link will automatically open up the module to the very spot where the verse is mentioned.
This should immediately make the value of these resources evident in BibleWorks. You can instantly see whether this dictionary cites Matthew 5:4. You don’t have to do any searching or flipping through the whole thing. It’s instantly available for you through the Resource Summary window. If the verse isn’t mentioned, it will not show up here. This process is immensely helpful in making quick work of one stage of your research.
III. Overall Impressions
Overall I was pretty impressed with the easy process of buying and installing the WORDsearch modules. The only part that I found somewhat troublesome were the stalls I experienced in downloading the books. Everything else was flawless and incredibly simple. It would have been convenient if the book installer would have also installed the fonts needed, rather than having a separate download, but that’s certainly not a painful flaw.
I thought the overall quality of the module was up to BibleWorks standards. The verse tagging was aggressively done and I found very few errors even in places where I was sure the tagging would be thrown off by other book names. Although some may not like the HTML Help format of these modules, this is similar to other BibleWorks modules and so it is what you would expect there. Some people have complained that the prices of these modules look a little bit too expensive, but we probably should keep in mind that prices are not simply decided by the company (in this case WORDsearch), but also have to do with agreements made with the publishers. In any event, if the price is a problem, the market may correct itself, through the use of sales or bundling of multiple resources. Only time will tell. [note: Since initially posting this review, I've noticed that all of WORDsearch's modules for BibleWorks are now on sale! I still haven't seen any options for bundling, but this is a good sign!]
If these new resources interest you at all, I would not hesitate to recommend them for BibleWorks. These resources are available in other Bible programs as well, but if you like having your resources under one umbrella and use BibleWorks more than those other programs, then this would seem like a no-brainer to me.
There are two main reasons why I like this latest venture. The first is that I think this is awesome that it opens up new products to BibleWorks users. Previously some users have complained specifically that the dictionaries provided in BibleWorks were out of date and considered it a flaw of the program that no newer resources were available. While these are special add-on modules and not part of the main package, this should help pave the way for even more resources to come into BibleWorks via WORDsearch. The second thing I like about this is that it shows a cooperation by two separate Bible software companies that should be encouraged and supported. I think too often Biblical software companies have operated in the capitalistic sphere of the world in order to be efficient companies that make money by providing services for their consumers. However just like I believe churches shouldn’t operate like businesses, I’m even more impressed when Bible software companies reject the same old business models and do things that show that the goal of helping people get into and understand God’s Word is more important than being the biggest and most profitable company out there. I suppose one could argue that financially this is win-win for both companies, but instead I’m focusing on the fact that neither company has tried to take the other out of the marketplace, but have opened themselves up to the other’s user-base.
If users have any other specific questions or you would like to see descriptions or pictures of any other things, please leave a comment and let me know. In the above I focused on the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. The features and quality of the New Bible Commentary are the same, but I simply did not post pictures of both resources. However, here is a picture of the basic format of the New Bible Commentary: