Jim Barr at Bibleworks (BW) was kind enough to send me a review copy of BW9. My plan is to post a few blog entries over the next week or so commenting on the main features of the software (primarily for the benefit of newcomers to BW) as well as highlighting what’s new on BW9 (for users of older versions). Now, I should admit that I was using BW7 prior to receiving BW9 (I never purchased the BW8 upgrade). So I will do my best to distinguish what is new to BW9 from what is simply new to me. I will say at the outset, however, that after using BW9 for the past three or so weeks, I emphatically recommend that anybody (like myself) still using BW7 or earlier versions make the upgrade immediately: the improvements are well worth the expense.

Interface: The interface for BW9 is, thankfully, the same attractive and user-friendly interface used in earlier versions of the software, so longtime users need not fear any drastic changes there. There are still three primary windows appearing in vertical columns to aid users as they handle texts: the browsing window (in the middle), the search window (on the left), and the analysis window (on the right). New to BW9, however, is the wonderfully-helpful option to expand the analysis window by opening a fourth window (on the far right) that allows the user to do two analysis functions simultaneously.

Browsing window: One of the standout features of BW has always been the ability to view numerous versions of a single text in the same central browsing window. BW9 has all the main Bible translations and critical texts needed for studying Scripture, as well as many other valuable early Jewish and Christian texts. The single most obvious improvement of the browsing window (from BW7 anyway) involves the layout of the lists that appear when the user clicks on the tabs to select a Bible version, book, chapter, or verse. The list that opens no longer forms a single vertical column that may go well below the bottom of the screen (e.g., in earlier BW versions, if one were studying Psalms and clicked the chapter tab to change chapters, not all 150 chapters of Psalms would be able to appear as options on the screen at once). Rather, the lists now appear in multiple columns making it easier for users to select the desired version, book, chapter, etc., without having to scroll down the list. Also different from BW7, the lists of versions are now initially collated according to language. Once a language is selected, a new window opens displaying an alphabetized list of texts in that language in multiple columns. This is to be distinguished from earlier BW versions in which clicking the versions tab produced a single alphabetized list of all texts reaching well beneath the bottom of the screen.

Negatives: The only negative comment I wish to make now is that the program takes a bit longer to open than my previous version. This may have to do as much with my aging laptop as anything, but I do wish it didn’t take so long to start up.

I will post on the search and analysis windows soon, as well as on the new modules and other helpful BW9 features.