My first 2 hours with Logos for Mac

November 23, 2008

While at ETS I got the Logos Gold for Mac DVD. Here’s a running diary of my notes from the first two hours I spent installing it and taking an initial look. This is not a formal review, just first impressions. I may have more to say later.

So you know my perspective, I’ve used Accordance on Mac for many years (prob. 15+?). I have Logos installed on my school owned Windows box in my study at the seminary, but rarely use it (it’s too slow and the interface does not see at all intuitive to me for the sort of things I want to do). I also have a copy of Logos Gold on my Windows box at home—courtesy of Logos from whom I received it gratis. I’m sure they would like for me to become a Logos convert and write nice reviews. The Mac Gold version is also gratis. You can decide if it colors my comments or not! :)

There are few notes re. the install process. The installer on the DVD says it will take 58 meg—obviously not enough to install the gold version, but that’s the only clue that it’s only part one of the install process. When it finishes there is no comment or explanation as to what to do next. So I launched the program. Turns out that the program itself does the major installation. It opens with the Install Resources window listing (in the Gold version) over 700 titles. If you want to install only some of the items (and I see no reason to install all of them! the scholar won’t want the fluff and the layman won’t want the Aramaic, etc.) you must manually uncheck each item individually. It would be very nice if these were grouped so you could turn related items on or off together (e.g., Wiersbe’s Be series, the Cairo Geniza, or the Pulpit Comm). I installed only 361 items (= 401 mouse clicks to deselect the ones I didn’t want!).

Installing these items took a while at that point, but you can’t make a DVD go any faster, so that’s expected.

First thing I usually do when installing a new app is go to pref dialog to specify how I want things to run (at least where I have any choices). Most are obvious, but the KeyLink tab is puzzling. If I’d had no previous exposure to Logos I’d have been totally stumped. As it is, I have only some vague ideas. So I opened Logos help—and read “Mac Beta help” for which no support is provided. Looks like the help system is still awaiting attention; it’s pretty minimal. The entry for KeyLink explained what KeyLink was, but said nothing about how it was configured or what I ought to do in the prefs window, if anything. The default entry in the KeyLink tab is for ['nt Texts] —whatever that is—followed by two blank lists.

I poked around enough to guess how it might work and experimented a bit. Changing the default ‘nt Texts to Greek in the pop up gives a long list of resources already marked. Since I don’t have a Logos coy of BDAG (I don’t think I’ll be shelling out another $125 for a fourth copy!), I faced the dilemma of what Greek lexicon to use as the default (that’s basically what the KeyLink is—I think). The standard setting defaults to an analytical, obviously not desirable as a standard lexicon, not just because Greek profs detest analyticals, but because the point of a lexicon is meaning and usage, not parsing. The choices are very minimal, and none satisfactory. If I can’t access BDAG, then I’d prefer to go to Abbott-Smith or even Thayer (!), but neither are included. Louw & Nida are useful, but they are not a first-stop lexicon. The abridged Liddell & Scott is less than satisfactory for NT work, though useful at the tertiary level. Surprisingly, Thayer is not available even as a purchased add on, though the “Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon” apparently has definitions drawn from Thayer. But that’s not the same as having a full-fledged (if long outdated) lexicon available. So I settled for Newman for the time being.

After Prefs, I looked for a tutorial of some sort. Nothing. Not in the help menu. Not in the help system. And no reference to anything online. So I guess that’s not finished yet for Mac either.

I poked around a bit and explored via the default window. That is apparently called “Home” but there is no title to the window that opens by default. It has Logos’ trademark “Let me do it for you” searches with the Passage and Exegetical Guides, Bible and Commentary, word or topic searches, etc. Those seemed to run quite a bit faster than the equivalent on my home Windows box—though I’m running on a much faster Mac (MacBook Pro only a few mths old) compared with a Dell that’s at least 5 years old.

I decided to try an Exegetical Guide search. So I typed in Mark 5:1 and clicked Go. It opened a new, blank window. And a few seconds later the app crashed. I had a dialog offering to relaunch, so I did, and this time the same search worked fine and it hasn’t crashed since.

The default search results are a bit puzzling. In the verse specified four words were hi-lighted with details below. Why these 4? Since clicking other words in the Greek text (N27) hi-lighted them and added the equivalent info to the lower portions, I couldn’t see any rationale. Some poking around just to see what was available in that window eventually led me to a tool bar button labeled “Properties” (though no indication as to properties of what). Experimenting with these settings suggests that the default is to hi-light only nouns and verbs, but not adjectives. Perhaps understandable in some sense, but it was puzzling in this example since there was an adverb (πέραν) functioning as a noun.

The links in this window are not all active. E.g., in Mark 5:1 ἐφοβησαν is listed with 5 lexical resources, but the first two (Newman and Louw & Nida) are grayed, not linked, even though this word (φοβεω) does occur in both. In Newman it’s listed a φοβεομαι rather than φοβεω, but that is no excuse in a tool designed for biblical language study. (Newman, BTW, is listed three different ways in the library window with different combinations of initials, etc., and all three have different titles listed! Not helpful when trying to find something.) The same is true of Louw & Nida’s lexicon—not listed because it uses φοβεομαι.

Just noticed there is a floating tool palette in the upper right of the screen that cannot be closed. I keep juggling it to get it out of the way when I need to use a scroll bar in a top right window. There needs to be some way to turn this pesky thing off!

I then noticed that I had a pop up text box floating on the right edge of the screen—with selectable text in it—a left over from a map I’d opened earlier. But I’d opened and closed multiple windows since then. It’s gone now as I type up this summary, but it hung around for quite some time.

In the Library window s.v.: [Bible/NT/Grammar], only Chapman is listed, but if I look under [Greek Language, Biblical/Grammar], then I also find Nunn (3 titles) and Kantenwein. Likewise for OT/Hebrew. Under [OT/Hebrew Reference], I find Van der Merve, but [Hebrew Language/Grammar] adds Futato and Gesenius. Under [Bible N.T. Mark./Commentaries] only Bratcher’s comm on Mark is listed. But if I look under [Bible. N.T. Mark/Commentaries] (note the punctuation!) I also find Brooks (NAC) and France (NIGTC). This is terribly confusing and probably reflects carelessness in proofing data entry in the database that drives this program. These inconsistencies must be fixed. (I’d guess they are the same in the Windows version.) Perhaps I notice these things when others don’t since I don’t use a program like Logos with a “hand holding” mentality in which the programs designers are assumed to know what the user needs. I usually know what I want and intend to access specific items. If you let Logos do the thinking you may get the specific items in its grocery list of things assumed to be relevant even if they are entered differently, but that aggravates some of us who are database-oriented, consistency-driven.

Window management is lacking. No menu command to tile or arrange windows. It’s all manual, and with Mac’s poor choice to allow resizing of windows only from the bottom right corner (one of the few interface choices where Windows is much better!), this is very clumsy.

Well that’s enough for a few hours. Overall the program is in much better shape than it was last spring when I say a demo of the alpha version (or at least saw it crash repeatedly). It’s fast (though not as fast as Accordance). Much faster than on either Windows box I’ve tried using it on. The language tools are severely limited in this release. The “syntax tools” are totally missing. The only language tools I can see are the parsing and lexicons. No diagrams. Whoops, just found a morphological search option. So tried a quick search: Verb, perfect ptcp nom [=V??R?P??N]. The initial search value quickly reported 342 occurrences, but it took perhaps a half min. (I didn’t time it) to list those texts with the verb hi-lighted. By comparison, the same search in Accordance was nearly instantaneous (and returned the same number of hits).

Whoops! I now have another pop up text box on the screen. It disappears when I close a window, then reappears under the cursor the next time I click! Weird. Maybe it will go away… :) Oh, I see, not sure how it first appeared while I was in the Search dialog, but the “reappearing” box is the parsing details from the Greek text open in the other window. So there was a stray box that did not belong in the Search window, but it did disappear when I closed the Search window.

Enough for now. And tomorrow I need to get some work done, so its back to Accordance. No time to experiment further just now.

- – - – - -

Later note:
I’ve posted a 2d round of notes in the comments.

5 responses to My first 2 hours with Logos for Mac

  1. Its interesting to me how we respond to new programs. I’ve spent time looking at Accorance, but it seems so foreign to me and at this point, I don’t have any more interest than you do in getting duplicate books – I only have one copy of BDAG, but since I carry it around on my laptop, that’s all I’d ever need (though I miss the paper).

    Suggestions & Comments:
    In the Library dialog, change the “arrange by” from “Subject” to “Title” that makes finding things a lot easier.

    The confusion with subjects in the books has less to do with Logos and more to do with the print publisher. Look at the cataloging data in the actual books:

    NAC Mark:
    Dewey Decimal Classification: 226.3
    Subject Heading: BIBLE. N.T. MARK
    Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 91–22704

    Probably the best Greek dictionaries available in Gold are EDNT and L&N (its also nice to have all ten volumes of TDNT, in spite of the set’s flaws).

    As to the Syntax Databases, since the Mac version is actually based on version 2 rather than 3, rather than trying to continuously play catch up, Logos decided to get a relatively basic edition out based on the features they know by statistic are used the most. The rest will be updated along side Logos 4.0 in the next year. Here’s the president’s actual statement on that from the Mac Newsgroup, 10/11/2008:

    “The Mac version of Logos was terribly late, and the biggest demand has simply been to “get it out” so people can start using the vast library of resources that work with Logos Bible Software.

    In the meantime, we are already well down the road on version 4.0 of Logos Bible Software for Windows, and it features some major improvements to the user interface. Putting too much effort into getting the Mac version to exact parity with 3.x will just delay parity with v4.x. So our basic plan is:

    A) Get a useful version out for the Mac now.

    B) Listen to the feedback and add just the most important/essential/highly-demanded features to the next Mac release. (Soon, relatively.)

    C) Plan future Mac development to stay in parallel with future Windows development, not to play catch-up with the existing v3.x platform.”

  2. Thanks for the suggestions Mike.

    I’ve played a bit more tonight, but not much. I spent most of that time setting up a workspace that suits my use. Thankfully it only has to be done once! Aligning and sizing 7 windows onto one laptop screen is the pits. No auto help at all that I can find. And then the font size for each window must be set manually with a trip to the menu bar; View > zoom > %. At least when it’s done (for now!) it looks sharp. The shadowed windows they’ve used are quite snazzy. Now if I could just get rid of that floating palette… (yes, it’s still there!) :( When I saved the workspace, quit the app, then restarted (to see if it really saved what I wanted), the screen redraw when the app reopened was frightening—flashing on and off for each new window I had laid out. (That could set off an epileptic fit for some people!) But it was all there when it finished. The icons on each window’s tool bar are cryptic and not at all obvious without the popup. I suppose I’ll learn them in due time, but I don’t think they are very well thought out. The detail in some is too tiny to be legible (e.g., the link set uses a small *white* letter to indicate the set—but it’s very hard to make out on my screen). Even the clear icons (Previous, Next, Back, Forward) are ambiguous: previous what?! Even the popup doesn’t tell you. Is it going to go to the next resource int he library? Or the next verse? Or the next window? No clue. And what’s the difference between Next and Forward and between Previous and Back?!

    Oh, guess what? That pesky floating toolbar has disappeared! And I didn’t do anything to cause that (so far as I know). I’m glad it’s gone—I’m just afraid it’s going to reappear on me when I don’t want it! But now I’ve got something else. While browsing the Library window (the organization of which still seems very inconsistent and illogical in subject view), I suddenly have a tan text window popped open on top of the library—which is a hyper linked reference from the Bible window *under* the Library. It’s repeatable in this instance—I can move my mouse away and it disappears, point back at the same spot on the Library window and it reappears. That’s a glaring programming error—links should only display in top level windows, not background ones. Something to put on the bug list.

    Enough for today.

  3. I think the “pesky floating toolbar” can be removed with apple+B or window->Hide Main Toolbar (assuming that is the toolbar you’re talking about).

  4. Ah! I must have hit Cmd-B without realizing it. I saw the “Hide Main Toolbar” command, but didn’t think it would relate to one tiny floating palette tucked clear in the upper right of the screen! I assumed it referred to the toolbar in the various windows. Thanks.

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  1. Bible Software Review Weblog » Blog Archive » Logos for Mac: First Impressions - November 24, 2008

    [...] –, Rod Decker got hold of the Logos for Mac DVD (Scholar’s Gold edition). He’s shared his experience after playing around with it for a couple of hours. It is not a review as such, but it is an [...]