If you’re a Bible College student, minister, or just generally interested in purchasing some top quality Bible software for Mac – then I suggest you read this post alongside this post from two days ago. Buying Bible software, especially if you’re a student, is a big budgetary decision. Thanks to a job I lined up over the college break I was in a position to spend some money on some software that’ll hopefully make Greek, Hebrew, and essay writing a little less arduous this year.
My wife and I are both studying full time at Bible College (Queensland Theological College). We are both, predominantly, Mac users. We both have iPhones. And one of the other pre-conditions in my negotiations with my wife re taking a job over summer was that if the new iPad looks good, I’ll get one. So finding software that plays nice with Macs and their offspring was a factor. I also have a desktop PC at home that I don’t use as much as I used to. But that I still like. Especially if I’m playing with any design stuff.
So right off the bat I ruled out BibleWorks – because I wanted a native solution. I don’t like parallel operating systems or emulators. I don’t know why. It just seems to add an extra degree of difficulty.
The Hive Mind
I didn’t want to make a purchase decision of this magnitude on my own. I don’t like the idea of buying anything without some idea of what I’m getting my hands on. My church history lecturer has probably the world’s biggest brain. And he recommended Logos. He’s not the computer geek type (though he does run Logos on his netbook, iPad, and office computer – he only got the iPad at Christmas time). He had no complaints about speed. Because he is a real person, not somebody who wants everything at the tip of their fingers immediately. My college principal uses Accordance, he’s a Mac man, and it was chosen for him by the tech guru at Tyndale House, where he was previously employed. He’s very happy with it – and says, alongside his Diogenes Greek software, the program has significantly reduced the time taken to conduct language work (and he works a fair bit in that sphere – his PhD involved research into just about every extant written work from Corinth and Alexandria (and this was BC – before computers)). So that’s one all. My friend Jeremy Wales also uses Logos, and his brain is almost as big as our church history lecturer’s.
Not content with these recommendations from friends who used one, or the other, I put the call out to Facebook and Twitter. I love Web 2.0. I got a great string of responses from both. The Twitter responses were particularly in favour of Accordance because the @accordance account retweeted my tweet. Here are some notable tweetsponses:
- @nm_campbell I tried both but rather Accordance. I just wish Accordance worked better on a PC. But on a mac -Accordance!
- @nm_campbell I’ve had Accordance for years and love it. Developers are very active in the community and quick to listen to user requests.
- @nm_campbell If working in original languages, @AccordanceBible hands down. If not, depends on your needs.
- @nm_campbell I assume you have a Mac. Whatever you decide, be assured that you will not make a mistake if these two are your choices.
- @nm_campbell accordance is better for getting into the text (faster too). Logos is better if you want tons of books and commentaries.
- @nm_campbell went with @AccordanceBible because it was what I needed: fast and without a ton of stuff I never use. Both are good though.
- (from @accordancebible) @nm_campbell we’re also going to be in Brisbane for a training seminar May 9th. Great opp to learn from the best http://t.co/h4kZ6hR
- @nm_campbell using Acc since 5.x(?) & used Logos in Seminary. Hate Acc’s UI, but LOVE results. Indispensable: it’s like having X-ray vision!
- @nm_campbell you may want to check out this forum post. Users chiming in on the reasons they chose @accordancebible http://t.co/3xbXWGh
- @nm_campbell in case you haven’t read it, this piece is good, too: http://t.co/EQs1H8I
Happy campers. Nobody really has anything negative to say about either product. Which is a good sign. Accordance has a good rep for being amazingly speedy. And both companies seem to have embraced social media marketing in a big way. I was in no way prepared for what happened next. But first. To the responses on Facebook.
- We went with Accordance. Has been stress-free thus far.
- Whatever you decide, buy the biggest library you can on first purchase.It’s the incremental pieces where it gets expensive. Buying Greek and then Hebrew (for example) is much dearer than getting them all in one hit.
I can’t comment on accordance. But with Logos you need to start with scholars at a minimum for original languages study, lower levels come with only very low level tools and supporting databases for this type of work. Original Languages library is also ok, but it is limited in breadth of resources e.g. no commentaries so hence scholars is a better starting point. The negative side of base scholars is while it has breadth for a more general purpose library it is limited in grammars etc and you need to go for silver scholars to pick up the broad range of grammars etc
Logos also has an iPhone 4 app, and a Android App is under development so you can access the majority of your library on the go ( a few publisher’s were holding out on licensing rights for users to access both on computer and mobile platforms). Logos also has a web platform under development so you can access your library from any terminal that has access to the internet ( http://biblia.com/ ). No extra charge for access your library from either of these platforms. Logos also allows you to use your library from either MAC or Windows, you don’t have to pay to switch between platforms.
And of course there is also an iPad app as well which you can access your library from… And they do offer the option of a 12 month payment plan on your purchase so you don’t have to pay for the full package all in one hit…
A couple of blogs I know that do comparisons between these pieces of software are:
- Depends what you want it for. Accordance was made for language work, and works better than Logos at that. Logos was made initially for reading online, so does that better. Both added the other option but do their native task best. I generally hate reading books on the computer, but you have a kindle so might not be an issue. In terms of books I much prefer when sermoning to have a heap of commentaries out lying everywhere for comparison. Plus, any books should last the extent of my ministry. I don’t care about digital storage in this instance. That is all.
- It’s worth considering how commercialized logos is, too: the app’s homepage, their emails, their twitter feed are all pushing more resources all the time.If you struggle with self-control on book purchases, this could be unhelpful.I’ve found logos to be easier and more intuitive to work with, but there’s a new version of accordance I haven’t tried yet: maybe it’s easier.
- It’s worth chatting to the sales people at accordance – they’re very helpful, and can give you an idea around current and upcoming titles.
- Bible Works was the rage when i was at college. has it fallen out of favour?
Bibleworks is still kicking strong, but to run on a MAC you need to use virtualization software. Logos and Accordance run native on MAC. Bibleworks and WORDSearch are now just starting to work together, with modules now being to developed to run on both platforms (only 6 resources so far). Bibleworks is great for OL but lacks the breadth and depth of Logos, so they are clearly looking for a way to address that , which is also indication of how far Logos has come in its OL tools and databases, that Bibleworks now feels they need to expand their business model beyond being OL.
These two strings of responses gave me a lot to think about. And at that point I turned to my trusty steed. This blog. To see if any of my readers had any advice, or experience. And wow. When I said that both companies have embraced marketing via social media in a big way. I mean it. Very sharp. Reps from both Accordance and Logos joined the discussion to make sure that any of the misconceptions created by any of the previous comments from users were cleared up. And, in an even more impressive step, Dan from Logos emailed me with some personalised (and very Godly) advice. He basically sold the other guy’s product. Here’s a snippet (he said he would prefer me not to post his whole email).
“All I can say about the choice is, why choose? Why not get what you need from both? Even if you decided to go with Accordance, Logos has over 12,000 titles that you could pick and choose from. Our software engine is free, so you can just buy the titles you want.”
I think that’s an incredible example of graceful sales and marketing. He basically, in that paragraph, has encouraged me not to blow my money on stuff I won’t use, and suggested I go with the other guy as well. Which, in a bizarre way, was probably the biggest factor in my decision to use Logos exclusively at this point. It’s quite possible that I’ll decide I want a faster language tool and end up getting a hold of Accordance. It has a very enthusiastic fan base.
But the conversation in the comment thread is enlightening – and I think highlights the real problem I had with Accordance. Accordance is designed for the Mac. By all accounts it is intuitive to use and seamless in its implementation. Its website is not. Its website looks like the software is designed for the PC. I made the comment in the last post that the Logos website looks like a product designed for PC and marketed for Mac, while Accordance is the other way around. It is just really difficult to intuitively figure out how to add bits and pieces to the package, and clunky looking. There are a lot of misconceptions going around about Accordance – as evidenced by the times their company rep stepped in to correct misinformation in that thread. Even for Accordance users. And I think part of the problem is that information is so much harder to come by on their website. Neither site is perfect at this point, and the signal to noise problem of throwing my search out to everybody and being influenced by their answers may have made the process of finding information more difficult. But in order to find out whether I could install the software on my wife’s laptop as well as my own was a matter of finding an answer to that specific question in the FAQ section (which I admittedly found pretty easily by typing licensing into the search box – though the answer on that page suggests that if both of us are studying full time we both have to buy licenses, but I got a different vibe in the comments on my post). There’s no obvious statement about licensing restrictions anywhere on any of the product pages, which would have made the process a little simpler. I made a couple of comments about Logos being more extensible in the meta of that last post – which others disagreed with. But I ran a couple of little tests – looking to add specific books, or commentary series to the software – and here are the results of my query (looking for commentaries by Ben Witherington III): Accordance v Logos – in both cases I simply used the search box on the site. I’ve switched over to digital distribution (ok, I still like the tangibility of a book – but the convenience of digital means I’m buying many more resources electronically – if either of theses platforms offered some sort of Kindle support I’d be absolutely sold, though an iPad with Kindle and Logos installed will fix all of that).
Why I ultimately chose Logos
Rick from Accordance did a great job in the comment thread allaying concerns I had about the Accordance platform. Some of my initial objections to Accordance (licensing for both Robyn and I across all our computers, the availability of other resources, and the nature of the program – ie that it wasn’t just a language tool that had tacked on a library). I essentially decided that Logos and Accordance were both equally viable products. Offering a great service to people wanting to study the Bible.
These were the factors in my decision, all other things being equal:
- Price – I was convinced by the wisdom of friends who suggested going for the biggest bundle I could afford in the initial purchase, and Logos offers a 30% discount, which mean that the Silver Scholars package came within the ball park of the rack price for the Accordance bundle I was looking at, and the rack price for the base level Scholars pack in Logos.
- Technology – In the end having a PC to throw in the mix with two Macs was a factor. I could have used an emulator on my PC, but I just don’t want technologically clunky solutions. Especially when it comes to support issues. Having a third party piece of software as a middle man is no fun.
- Upgradability – I am convinced that Logos’ strength as a distribution channel for further works is greater than Accordance’s (I’m convinced Accordance is faster and better suited to the Mac environment it’s designed for).
- Marketing. Logos wins the marketing war. And I’m a marketer at heart. I switched to Apple for its aesthetic as much as for the technology. Form just edges out function for me. And that’s a personal preference.
I want to thank both David and Rick from Accordance, and Dan from Logos for the way they carried out the conversation here, and for taking an interest in seeing students like me get the software that suits. And I’d urge you to read their comments and make your own decision when it comes to these products on careful research, and thinking about your needs. That was the best, and most consistent, advice I received in the process.