QuickVerse Bible Software Comes to the Mac
A First Look at the newest Bible program for Mac OS X
by David Lang (Posted: 7/6/05)
From PC to Mac
Three months ago, the news broke that several Windows Bible software developers were planning to port their products to Mac OS X. The first to accomplish that feat is QuickVerse Bible Software, which has long been among the low-cost leaders in the PC Bible software market.
This article is intended to give you an indepth first look into most of what QuickVerse for Mac has to offer. It is by no means exhaustive, nor does it make any claims to being impartial. I have done my best simply to report what QuickVerse can and cannot do, and to avoid expressing too many of my own opinions about the software. The reader should nevertheless be aware that I work for the developers of a competing Bible software program, and that my descriptions of QuickVerse may be colored somewhat by that conflict of interest. For a more impartial evaluation of QuickVerse for the Mac, see the accompanying review by Rino Dattilo.
Contents and Cost
QuickVerse for Mac currently comes in two editions: a $49 "White Box" edition, and a $99 "Black Box" edition. Although QuickVerse's marketing literature mentions "access to over 400 of the most popular Bible translations and reference works available on the market," the initial release includes a maximum of 67 modules in the Black Box edition. Additional translations and reference works are slated to be released in larger packages at some point in the future.
The White Box edition includes the King James Bible, the New King James, the Message, and several older or more obscure translations. It also includes commentaries by Adam Clarke, Matthew Henry, and a condensed and updated edition of Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown called the New Commentary on the Bible. Other notable resources are the Ryrie Study Bible notes, the Handbook of Bible Application, and Willmington's Guide to the Bible.
For $50 more the Black Box adds the English Standard Version, the New Living Translation, and the New Revised Standard Version, along with Warren Weirsbe's Commentaries on the Gospels, My Utmost for His Highest, the Holman Bible Dictionary, and several additional resources. Oddly, Ryrie's Study Bible notes are not included in the Black Box edition, but are replaced with the Disciple's Study Bible Notes.
Maps and Pictures
Both editions of QuickVerse Mac include Hammond's Atlas of the Bible Lands, QuickVerse Holy Land Images, and QuickVerse Bible Pictures.
The Atlas is an excellent resource, and although the maps are basically just static pictures, they have a high enough resolution to allow the user to zoom in on small details without too much pixellation. The Atlas can be searched for place names, but they will only be found if they are mentioned in the text of the Atlas articles. For example, a search for "Corinth" will return the article for Paul's Second Missionary Journey, because Corinth happens to be mentioned in that article. A link can then be clicked to view the Map, but on the map itself, Corinth is not highlighted. The user is thus forced to locate Corinth on the map for himself. In the case of a more obscure site, such as Cenchreae, a search of the Atlas turns up no hits, even though Cenchreae does appear on the map of Paul's Second Missionary Journey. This is because Cenchreae is not mentioned in the actual text of any articles of the Atlas, and so is not found.
QuickVerse's marketing literature promises more than "2,000 brilliant, high-resolution color photos," but this is a little misleading. The QuickVerse Bible Pictures module contains both photographs of Biblical places and illustrations of Biblical scenes, but all the pictures I viewed were a relatively low-resolution 360 by 240 pixels. The QuickVerse Holy Land Images module features photographs by Hanan Isachar, an excellent Israeli photographer whose work is also featured in the Accordance Bible Lands PhotoGuide, and these images are presented at a somewhat more respectable 640 by 415 pixels.
QuickVerse Mac opens with a brushed metal "QuickVerse" window with four tabs: Library, Daily Reading Plans, View, and Find.
The Book window
Double-clicking a title in the Library list opens that book in a separate book window. This window has two panes: a Table of Contents browser to the left and a pane displaying the text to the right.
A single book window such as the one shown above can contain multiple translations (or other books) at the same time. To add a pane containing an additional book, simply drag its title from the Library window into an open Book window. The "ghosted" outline of an additional pane will appear to show you how the books will be arranged. Panes can be arranged either horizontally or vertically, and the visual cues QuickVerse gives to show how the panes will be arranged are pretty slick.
The resulting book window looks like this:
Once multiple books have been opened in a single book window, the purpose of the Table of Contents button in the toolbar becomes clear. The pop-up menu which appears when that button is clicked lists every book which is currently displayed in that particular window. The book which is checked is the one whose Table of Contents is displayed in the browser pane. Switching to another book will load its table of contents into the browser. When viewing multiple Bible texts, it matters little which one's table of contents is displayed, but if you view multiple dictionaries or other reference works in a single window, the option to select which book's contents are displayed becomes much more important (since the browser is the main way you have to navigate a book).
While visually slick, QuickVerse's implementation of multiple panes does have its problems. The first is that if the panes are too narrow to display the entire title of a book, it is not always clear which books are displayed. Look at the titles at the top of each pane in the window above. Because both start with "The Holy Bible" it is unclear which translations are displayed.
Another challenge is that the only way to rearrange the panes is by grabbing the little "grip" icon in the top right corner of each pane and dragging it to a new location. In windows with three or more panes, it can be difficult to drag each pane into the desired position, and you can sometimes get unexpected results.
In addition to dragging books from the Library into an Open book window, you can open multiple books in a single window by command- or shift-clicking their titles in the Library window and choosing Open. A new book window will be opened with all the books you selected displayed in separate panes. Unfortunately, the default arrangement of panes seems to be horizontal rather than vertical, so that only a few lines of each book can be seen. Dragging these panes into a vertical arrangement can, as mentioned above, be problematic.
QuickVerse provides some basic access to the Greek and Hebrew through its Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. This is basically a second edition of the King James Bible with Strong's numbers embedded as links within the text. To look up the Greek or Hebrew word which a word in the King James translates, you click on the link to open a Strong's Dictionary giving the definition of the word associated with that number.
The dictionary which is opened when you click the link is set in the QuickVerse preferences. In the $49 White box edition, there's only one option, the Strong's Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries, but in the $99 Black Box edition, you can also choose from Thayer's Greek definitions and Brown-Driver-Briggs' Hebrew definitions. It should be noted that these are not the full text of Thayer's and BDB, but the condensed and edited reworking of them done for the Online Bible.
Oddly, the first time I tried to follow a link to a Hebrew Strong's number, nothing happened. I later discovered the reason for this. In the preferences, the default dictionary to consult when a Strong's number is clicked was set to Thayer's Greek definitions. Because I had clicked a Hebrew Strong's number, that link did not apply to Thayer's and so nothing happened. When I switched the default to the Strong's Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries, the link worked fine. Those who purchase the Black Box edition should be aware of this and change their default Strong's dictionary accordingly. Eventually, the developers of QuickVerse should split the Strong's dictionary preference so that you can specify defaults for Greek and Hebrew separately.
The Strong's Concordance and various Strong's Dictionaries are prime candidates for being displayed as panes within a single book window. When this is done, clicking on a link in the Concorance will cause the corresponding dictionary panes to display the definition.
Daily Reading Plans
Returning to the main QuickVerse window, the second tab offers a list of daily reading plans designed to help you read through the Bible or some portion of the Bible in a specified period of time (one year, nine months, one month, etc.). When you open one of these plans for the first time, each reading is automatically assigned to the appropriate day on the calendar, beginning with the day you opened it. A checkbox beside each reading lets you check off the days you've completed, and the list of reading plans in the main QuickVerse window will tell you what percentage of that reading plan you've completed.
If you decide not to start a reading plan the first day you open it (for example, you opened it up just to look at it but were not ready to commit to it right away), it is possible to recalibrate the dates assigned to each reading. To do this, you must select the reading plan from the list of reading plans and choose Edit Daily Reading Plan from the Edit menu. A dialog box will open which lets you choose a new start date and otherwise edit the reading plan to suit your needs.
The third tab in the main QuickVerse window lets you save and open "Study Views"that is, custom window arrangements.
Arranging windows in QuickVerse can be problematic to say the least. The main QuickVerse window takes up the left half of the screen, and as you open various books, maps, and pictures, the windows tend to proliferate. The minimum height and width of each book window is more than half the height and width of my 14" iBook screen, even with each book window's toolbar hidden. Thus, on smaller screens there is really no way to view more than one book window at a time without overlapping them somewhat. Likewise, there is no command to Tile windows, so you must do all the rearranging of windows yourself.
Given all these challenges, the ability to save and recall an arrangement that works for you may prove to be especially important.
The fourth and final tab in the main QuickVerse window is where you perform searches of your QuickVerse library.
Although all searches in QuickVerse must be done through the Find tab of the main window, QuickVerse does provide a shortcut to simplify searching for text you run across in the course of your study. Within any book window, you can search for selected text by clicking the Find icon of the toolbar, or by selecting from a corresponding command in the Find menu. This will automatically insert the selected text in the Find tab of the main window and perform a search for it.
Another shortcut available when text is selected is to look that text up in a default dictionary. This dictionary can be set in the Preferences.
This initial release of QuickVerse for Mac is missing a few key features which were promised in the initial marketing literature. Until the program started to ship, QuickVerse's web-site contained the following advertisement:
Unfortunately, both the "Verse Widget" and the Spotlight plug-in are conspicuously absent in the released version, and the description above has quietly been removed from the web-site.
In addition to the missing Tiger features, QuickVerse Mac is missing a couple of key features which are typically available in most other Bible software programs. These include:
Though QuickVerse for Mac does have a few rough edges and limitations typical of a 1.0 release, FindEx has managed to bring a relatively full-featured Bible program to the Maca program which neither looks nor operates like Windows software. That in itself is a major accomplishment.