My October 2012 Christian Computing Magazine Article got published today going to all who receive a free subscription of the magazine. In this month’s article I covered the new Mac OS X version of Bibleworks 9 and the new iPad app from e-Sword.
UPDATE: I got a response from Bibleworks which you’ll find at the end.
UPDATE 2: This installation process requires an optical disk so if your Mac doesn’t come with one, get one or your left out. I’ve requested information about whether there’s a way to overcome this without buying one, but haven’t heard.
I was excited to learn that one of the best programs for original language study might come to the Mac, my new chosen platform. Bibleworks 9 told us they would offer a Mac version soon. However, an announcement of their “native Mac” version of the software is not at all native. Instead the version they are developing runs using X11 with Codeweavers virtualization tools that let Mac and Linux users run Windows software.
Don’t get me wrong. The video below looks pretty good. I haven’t installed the public preview yet, but I like what I see so far. However, it’s not “native”.
A version using Codewearvers is better than nothing, if a Bibleworks user wants to switch over to Mac. I’m hoping they’re just a little confused as to what constitutes a “native Mac app” and not being deceptive. WORDsearch made the same mistake advertising a Mac version of their software when it ran using the same strategy.
One of the biggest problems Bibleworks and WORDsearch face is that the underpinnings of their tools have been removed from the most recent versions of Mac OS X 10.8. For that reason, I recommend that users avoid these “Mac versions” and stick with the excellent Windows versions running on Windows installed via something like Parallels, a great tool for installing Windows in a virtual environment on a Mac. Run using their Coherence tool that makes apps run in Windows seem like they are running on Mac without Windows in a much more successful way than using Codeweavers. I use Parallels to run Bibleworks 9 when I use it.
Learn more about the Bibleworks Mac project at their site.
RESPONSE FROM BIBLEWORKS
We’ve tried to be very clear about what the new Mac version is and is not. The BibleWorks 9 executable is running natively. It runs on compatibility libraries. These libraries do not involve virtualization and do not involve bytecode emulation. They truly are running native. The X11 libraries which they use are native code libraries and even shipped with OS X (from Leopard through Lion, I believe). I think in Mountain Lion, Apple chose not to include the X11 libraries, but they should automatically install with the Mac Public Preview installer and were shipped with OS X in Lion. If they are not automatically installed in Mountain Lion, that is an error and we will address it.
I’ve also added this sentence to the Mac page: “The underlying technology uses WINE and xQuartz libraries.”
From our perspective the compatibility libraries could use some optimization to make them faster, and we plan to address that in future updates.
I hope that makes sense. We’re certainly not trying to mislead anyone (that wouldn’t help us or our users). The Mac Public Preview is released at no additional cost as another option for our Mac users to try.
I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of Windows 8 on a computer, but it looks like it will run beautifully on a tablet, so I hope that the Bible software companies will embrace the platform to make it an awesome tool for Digital Bible Study. Bibleworks already has. They sent me a link to a video of their app running on a Windows 8 tablet.
You can see how well it works for yourself below. If you want info about the tablet itself, a Samsung Series 9, then back it up to the beginning. There’s also a ridiculous “intermission” just before the start point below and ending.
It looks like its running nicely. I look forward to getting my hands on a Windows 8 tablet once they ship this fall.
Here’s the gauntlet being thrown down. I want to see the other Bible software makers run their app on Windows 8 tablets. You can do it and I’ll happily show it off for you.
Would you like to run BibleWorks on your Mac? I would!
Few Bible software companies produce Mac versions of their Bible software, BibleWorks included. Before my switch to the Mac a little more than a year ago, I was a frequent user of BibleWorks and recommended it to my friends and colleagues as well as readers. Not having native Mac access is my biggest disappointment. That could be changing.
In a BibleWorks forum pust, Mike Bushell of BibleWorks noted that a version running under emulation could come soon. Here’s what he said:
Just FYI we are now formally investigating the possibility of officially spporting BibleWorks running on third party emulators on Mac and Linux. So far what we find looks promising. Re the question of this thread, BibleWorks does run under CrossOver, whch does not rquire a Windows license. Crossover is not free but it is not expensive either. It does have some problems, specifically with CHM files, but we are hopeful that we will eventually have a good, supported solution for our Mac and Linux users. I can’t give any dates. The best I can do is tell you that this is something that we are now taking seriously.
This is both good and terrible news at the same time. I reached out to the folks at BibleWorks recently and they gave me the same canned response that most report receiving – “no plans right now” yada yada yada …
The above forum post by Bushell marks a change in philosophy. Because Macs are becoming more popular and grabbing a greater share of the computer market, Bible study software makers really have to at least consider this move.
Here’s the problem: running on emulation results in a slow and sometimes horrible experience. My first such experience with WORDsearch 9 on an emulator proved that I didn’t want to have to do that and pushed me to look at other options. Since that time WORDsearch improved the experience greatly and now, it’s usable even if not enjoyable.
I hope and pray that BibleWorks comes up with a workable solution. I also hope and pray they don’t make the same mistake WORDsearch made and release a kludgy and horribly painful version of their Windows software on an emulator. I really hope they don’t waist a lot of money on it and just port the app to OS X natively. This would require a big investment, but will also result in a large payoff, since the Mac Bible software market isn’t that crowded compared to Windows. Just ask the folks at Logos, Olive Tree and Accordance if Mac versions are profitable.
Until this happens, you can install it via something like Boot Camp, Parallels or other emulator software. It’s not ideal, but works. I think it is better than running Windows software inside a sandboxed emulator like WORDsearch did with their “mac” version.
An exciting new feature in BibleWorks 9 is the ability to split the Analysis Window, usually on the right in default setup, into two panes. The red arrow button in the upper right adds a second pane automatically putting the tabs from one row into one window and the tabs from another row into the other window. Each tab can be dragged between the windows for your own preferred setup.
This allows us to have our own notes window open all the time but still use the various analysis windows while studying. As a heavy notes user in Bible applications, I love this feature.
The first time you click anywhere in the Analysis window, this helpful tooltip will explain how to use it. BibleWorks adds little touches like that to handhold new users as they learn the system. Software companies can learn a lesson from the great BibleWorks team.