January 05, 2008

Software Review: SwordSearcher 5

I received a copy of SwordSearcher 5 recently to review, and I've been putting it through its paces. There's a lot to like about the package. But it also falls short in a few areas.

One of my favorite aspect of SwordSearcher is the library. It's nothing compared to the Libronix library, of course, but it doesn't cost nearly as much. Andrew Miller's Church History is included, as well as Osborn's Classbook of Biblical History and Geography. There's also a selection of Great Preaching of the Faith, which includes sermons from a diverse group of preachers, including Edwards, Calvin, Finney, and Torrey. There's also over 700 sermons from Spurgeon. Many of the commentaries in the package are already available elsewhere, as are the dictionaries. For a full list of resources, check the web page.

One thing I really like in SwordSearcher is the 'Deep Referencing' links feature. Next to each verse in the Bible pane are links to the various resources that reference that verse. This makes in depth study of verses much easier to do. There's also a paragraph option available in the Bible pane, though selecting this option disables the deep referencing links.

My main Bible software package is e-Sword. I picked it because it was free, and easy to use. SwordSearcher is just as easy to use, and includes some features that e-Sword doesn't have (like the whole library search, and the deep referencing links). e-Sword does have one thing going for it, though -- it has a wealth of Bibles available. 8 are available with purchase (Amplified, Complete Jewish, HCSB, Message, NASB study set, NKJV, NLT, and the NIV family bundle). There are 26 available English translations for free (not gonna list them all). There are 10 original language editions, PLUS the Latin Vulgate. And a horde of foreign language translations.

Unfortunately, this is where SwordSearcher lets me down. 12 English Bibles (4 of which are King James editions, and three more of which are historic English translations like Bishops and Tyndale's). 2 Greek (no Septuagint, no Hebrew). 4 foreign language -- Spanish, French, German, and Dutch. They have a response for this objection:

Requests for particular material in SwordSearcher, such as new Bible versions, modern commentaries, etc., are hard to fulfill because of licensing and copyright issues. For example, a certain publisher currently requires a five-figure upfront payment to license their popular Bible version, in addition to requiring per-copy royalty payments that cost more than a printed paperback version of their publication. Regardless of anyone's reasons for wanting or not wanting this kind of material in SwordSearcher, it is simply a moot point as long as these kinds of restrictions are in place.

Also, with Forge, any publisher can easily make their material available for SwordSearcher themselves. If a particular publisher has material you would like to see in SwordSearcher, you may want to contact them to let them know they could publish their material in SwordSearcher format without paying a penny in licensing fees.

However, feel free to email us letting us know what you would like to see in SwordSearcher. We are constantly seeking additional library material for the software, and if you know of a public-domain work that would be a good addition, let us know.

Forge is SwordSearcher's tool for importing large amounts of text into SwordSearcher. It allows you to import books that you own into SwordSearcher, so publishers CAN release their own stuff for the software. But the user can't create a file for their favorite translation and import it.

SwordSearcher costs $49.95. e-Sword is free. I'll hang on to SwordSearcher, just for some of the resources it offers that e-Sword doesn't, but it looks like e-Sword will still be my workhorse. Until someone donates the new edition of Bibleworks to me, of course.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 02:06 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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