Logos 4...

(David) Several weeks ago Logos Software suddenly began advertising a new version (No. 4) of their Bible software. I've owned Logos for years and my frustration with their publishing practices has been expressed on this blog in the past. But beyond a business model which charges often-ridiculous prices for public domain books, and book sets which contain an inordinate amount of chaff, I have consistently found the intricacies of the software off-putting. Logos has never been easy to use. It's complex, counter-intuitive, challenging software. Consequently, I seldom use Logos for anything but simple Bible searches.

So an updated version promising greater speed and ease-of-use sounded attractive. How could things get worse? Any simplification would help, especially since I've found it hard to incorporate additional book collections I've purchased over the years into my work flow. So I ponied up $150 for the upgrade and here's what I found.

First, secrecy dominates Logos Software's approach to Logos 4. They didn't announce the new version before putting it on sale. They didn't release a public beta. They didn't explain new features or list the ways Logos 4 differs from past versions. They simply advertised a revolutionary new Logos edition and immediately began selling it.

Among the many things Logos left unannounced was the inordinately lengthy process upgrading to Logos 4 entails. There's the initial download--a many-gigabyte exercise in patience for most. Then, there's the indexing that follows the downloading--an even-more interminable process which mired my computer in digital quicksand for hours without the slightest warning or explanation. I suspected the new software was doing something but I had no idea what. Was it still downloading? stuck? activating? This went on for hours, a black box of uncertainty that frustrated initial users immensely. After complaints came raining down, Logos included a pop-up warning users that indexing follows the initial download and that indexing can take hours or even days. Further revisions to Logos 4 now permit indexing to be delayed to a more convenient time.

Nor are downloading and indexing the only places where Logo was tight-lipped about the new software. Logos 4 requires web access from the outset and apparently constantly communicates with Logos servers about users' books, open windows, workspaces, etc. when the software is running. (An option subsequently added to the software permits internet access to be turned off, but refusing Logos 4 access to the internet would be ill-advised since the software is constantly downloading new versions and updated resources, leading me to my next point....)

It turns out Logos 4 was shipped and put on sale without being finished. Many things we take for granted in older versions of Logos are impossible to accomplish in Logos 4. So, for instance, would you like to print from Logos 4? That's among Logos 4's "Features Coming Soon." Want to copy and paste lists of verses from Logos 4 into MS Word? That's a feature expected in "First Quarter 2010."  Individual verses can be copied and pasted but there's no mass export capability, nor can entire lists be copied and pasted. This is true throughout Logos 4: no export, no import, no mass copy and paste.

You might be tempted to turn off Logos 4's internet access for privacy reasons, but do so and your  software remains un-updated. Nor does Logos explain either the chronic software updates sent downstream from their servers or the extent of information sent from user's computers to Logos servers. The exchange of information is sufficiently complete, Logos proudly notes, that users can reinstall Logos and have absolutely everything--books, personal notes, settings, etc.--transferred to the new installation from Logos servers (not as benign a thing as Logos may assume in the eyes of some of its customers).

As part of its new, internet-centric vision, Logos 4 includes a new home page filled largely with promotional text and ads which cannot be turned off. The page is essentially useless, except that if you wish to research a passage you must enter its reference in a search box found only on that page--the sole non-promotional component of the page.

Little written help is available in the program. Time-consuming explanatory videos which must be downloaded from Youtube are Logos's primary help mechanism. In fact, I only learned that copying and pasting lists is a "future feature" by exploring the Logos forums. The combined dearth of program help and software explanation on the Logos site makes the online forums essential reading for any but the most casual users of the software.

I could and probably should say more about the frustrations of the software. Logos is charging for software so incomplete and buggy that Microsoft wouldn't send it out the door as an Alpha, let alone a Beta. They've not used any of the Windows conventions for the product. Nothing works the way you expect it to.

And yet, let me add that it's possible this version will finally begin the process of making Logos a truly usable product. Each previous version of Logos suffered from slow searches, a multitude of useless resources that clogged searches with thousands of useless hits and an almost impossibly confusing interface. Logos 4 may just help with each of these problems.

The new interface is an improvement. Hovering over words and passages often causes useful lexical and grammatical information to appear in nearby boxes. Multiple versions of passages can appear in one window--you click on a link at the top of the window to view the desired version. Indexing all resources vastly speeds searches. Finally, assembling collections of truly useful resources so that searches aren't filled with garbage responses is much easier in Logos 4 than in Logos 3.

Overall, however, it's hard to avoid the feeling that Logos is trading on the good manners of its largely-Christian customer base by shipping such an incomplete, ill-prepared and self-serving piece of software. The only thing in Logos 4 that worked perfectly out of the box is the home page, and that's all marketing.

Comments

On a related note, Logos' iPhone app is pretty horrible too.

>I could and probably should say more about the frustrations of the software. Logos is charging for software so incomplete and buggy that Microsoft wouldn't send it out the door as an Alpha, let alone a Beta. They've not used any of the Windows conventions for the product. Nothing works the way you expect it to.

Have you upgraded to Windows 7? Buwahahahahaha.

Have you tried Accordance? Oh wait---that would require a Mac wouldn't it? Perhaps Tim would let you borrow one?

I remember our trip down to Bloomington seeing all those beautiful iMacs on the desks and thinking how much better prepared they'll be for work in glory.

If only I had a way of posting a picture of that smiling Cheshire Cat all would be perfect.

Tim, help a brother out.

::big grin::

The huge irony, David, is that Logos 4 is more "Mac like" than Windows. Be thankful you have never tried to figure out anything beyond the most basic of things in anything Mac. It's then that you realize who the true "Big Brother" is -- "You can't do that. Why? Because we say so. Be happy and be quiet. Look at the shininess!!"

Seriously, I think Logos' mistake here was in not preparing people for what was coming. Once you *know* about the initial download and indexing, you can work around that (by firing it up before you go to bed). After the horrible initial indexing, subsequent indexing is not so bad at all.

I was in the Beta testing group, and I can say that Logos was responsive to the consumer's comments. Much of the "coming features" were features that initial market research said was were not used. When many of us clamored for them, Logos tried to make a way to bring them back, or at least put them on a roadmap. Unlike Apple (who could care less about what you want) or Microsoft (who makes it impossible to tell them what you want) Logos actually listens. They may not be perfect, but they listen. My guess is that if you called and requested a refund, they would give it.

>"You can't do that. Why? Because we say so. Be happy and be quiet. Look at the shininess!!"

Fred, Fred, Fred, you can't disguise the envy. There is a veritable green aura around your post.

Ask for forgiveness. Seek absolution. :)

I use them both. Windows because I have to.

@Mark - LOL. I need an overpriced, underpowered machine like I need a hole in my head!

By the way, David, the copy multiple verses function has already been fixed in the latest Beta version (which is public). You can find it here:

http://community.logos.com/forums/t/5385.aspx

Here's a helpful video of the Logos dev team that sheds light on the agile development process: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdKa9bXVinE&feature=related

Do any of you use BibleWorks? I have for years and am quite happy with it.

As part of its new, internet-centric vision, Logos 4 includes a new home page filled largely with promotional text and ads which cannot be turned off. The page is essentially useless, except that if you wish to research a passage you must enter its reference in a search box found only on that page--the sole non-promotional component of the page.

There are some factual problems here. A couple of clarifying comments:

1. Everything except the Bible passage of the day and the graphics can be turned off on the main part of the Home Page by simply unchecking a few boxes: http://screencast.com/t/MWZmNjU0M.

2. There is much on the home page that is not promotional: (1) Bible passage of the day, (2) biblical images from your resources, (3) excerpts from your resources, (4) a book of the day from your library, (5) devotional content from your library, and (6) training content from the blog. And if you want to include the stuff from the top, there's also (7) the passage/topic box, (8) the lectionary, (9) your reading plans, and (10) reading lists. So I count 10, not 1, non-promotional components.

The first paragraph in my previous comment had blockquote tags around it. They didn't come through. I'm quoting you, though, in case you didn't notice. :)

I still think BibleWorks is the best tool out there for doing exegetical work with the biblical languages. Given the number of Bible versions that come as a basic part of the tool, it is much less expensive than Logos.

Does it have as many extra texts as Logos? No, but then it bothers me that I've got copies of the TDNT and IVP's Essential Reference Collection sitting in my desk (once paid for, but currently out of date and unused), because I don't want to pay to upgrade.

I'm willing to upgrade BibleWorks every couple of versions or so since it's my Bible. I can't see upgrading all these extra tools all the time though.

I really like 'Power Bible', the only thing I have bought from a Telemarketer. It works well and almost as fast as an old DOS program give me years ago. My son set Power Bible up to run on Linux for me. It is smaller than LOGOS but has a good group of English Bibles, some commentary's and Greek tools. I am not a scholar but it is all I have ever needed.

TGW

"Does it have as many extra texts as Logos? No, but then it bothers me that I've got copies of the TDNT and IVP's Essential Reference Collection sitting in my desk (once paid for, but currently out of date and unused), because I don't want to pay to upgrade."

"I'm willing to upgrade BibleWorks every couple of versions or so since it's my Bible. I can't see upgrading all these extra tools all the time though."

I think you're misunderstanding a couple of fundamental things about the way we do upgrades.

1. You buy a book from us once and only once. You never buy it from us again. You've purchased a license; it's yours to use as long as you're alive—you can even pass it on to your heirs. We'll even make sure that books you've purchased more than a decade ago in a completely different format of ours will work on our latest generation software, without costing you a penny. And now you can use that same single license on Windows, Mac, and on your iPhone or iPod touch—and soon on our online web application.

2. Our core engine is free. You can move to our current generation platform and not pay a penny. All of your books will move over with you. When you upgrade, you're not repurchasing content. You're purchasing new content: new databases and new books that make Logos 4 shine. In some cases your getting close to 200 new titles for less than a penny on the dollar. Our upgrades (http://www.logos.com/upgrade) are tremendous values, and we highly recommend them. But purchasing an upgrade isn't necessary to moving to the latest version of our core engine.

Sounds to me like it's time for you to put those TDNT and IVP Essential Reference Libraries to good use. Feel free to contact me if you need help doing that: phil@logos.com or 360-685-2314.

I like Accordance for the Mac if I need all the tools. But for checking various versions, doing passage searches ESword is terrific and its free. There are dozens of versions available, including a good number of commentaries (Henry, Gill, Barnes) along with the Westminster Standards and Calvin's Institutes to name just a few. For donation of any amount you'll get a disk containing every available option. Everyone ought to have it. And it's Windows. There is a Mac version available (I think) but I use Fusion so I can run it in a Windows window on the Mac.

Phil, you're right about users now being able to turn off the home page. You can now also decline specific forms of content on the page. I made this clear in an earlier revision to my post which somehow didn't make it onto the site.

However, except for the search box, the home page's content is marketing-driven. Nor is the search box automatically included on the main software page the way it is on the home page. It only appears if you open a passage or exegetical guide. Logos is clearly seeking to drive users to the home page where the focus is on the marketing of software and books.

Finally, I can't remember for certain, but I believe content customization of the home page wasn't included in the first iteration of the publicly-sold software.

David Bayly

David, thanks for the reply.

1. You've always been able to turn off the Home Page altogether and control the vast majority of what appears there. This functionality was there long before the product shipped. Nothing has changed.

2. Please explain to me how the following are marketing-driven: (1) Bible passage of the day, (2) biblical images from your resources, (3) excerpts from your resources, (4) a book of the day from your library, (5) devotional content from your library, and (6) training content from the blog, (7) the lectionary, (8) your reading plans, and (9) reading lists. They all point you to content you already own. They aren't trying to sell you anything. They are trying to get you into the study of the Bible with what you already have.

A while back I looked at Logos and while searching ran across E-Sword. It may not have all the capabilities of Logos but has met my needs and it's free. http://www.e-sword.net/

I have to agree with most of the concerns noted in this post. It's heavy and it's counter-intuitive in every sense of the term.

A little over a year ago I made a huge investment and purchased the logos software. After being very frustrated with PC's in general I switched to a Mac. (so very glad I did) When I heard that Logos had a Mac engine I was ecstatic. So I purchased the software knowing that it was not yet fully operational with the Promise that Logos would be bringing the software up to par with the PC version. Unfortunately this never happened as less than a year later they dropped that project to tackle L4 (logos 4). I hope this does not happen again since I do not enjoy running Logos in VM fusion, nor can I even imagine the upgrade process to make that happen. I hope they get it together, I now have a library I spent several thousand dollars on, that basically I cannot use.

Dear Sean,

Use Online Bible. It's free except for your NASB/NIV/ESV module.

Love,

I've used Logos for around 15 years and I just had to move computers again. Trying to move my library is a genuine nightmare.

I have to give two thumbs up to E-Sword. You can get the KJV and ESV for free along with Calvin's Commentaries linked to the scriptures and it runs with a small footprint. Lots of other free addons. And you can add the NASB for $20. I think I'm going to probably go with this as my primary resource and drop Logos. For my purposes E-Sword hits the sweet spot.

Add new comment