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higher power with kevin

WORDsearch 9

Kevin A. Purcell - [email protected]

W

ORDsearch 9 is out and ready for Digital Bible students. But does it deserve space on your hard drive? In a word, "Yes!"

Late last year, WORDsearch released version 9. It was a busy

time as we saw upgrades from Logos and QuickVerse, too. But of the three, I think WORDsearch might have the best upgrade. That doesn't necessarily mean it is the best overall program. I reviewed Logos in November (http://bit.ly/8XABbL) and QuickVerse in December (http://bit.ly/7IBYdQ). What makes WORDsearch 9 the best upgrade is its stability, some really great new features, and unlike Logos they did it without removing any of the best features of the previous version.

To update my previous reviews, with the release of 4.0a SR2, Logos has improved version 4 and is much more stable and responsive than it was when I reviewed it. Also there is a beta version that will allow you to import your old version 3 notes and highlights. If you have Logos it will have already updated your installation to the latest non beta version by now. QuickVerse also has a maintenance release (v. 14.02) which fixes some of the bugs I found. You can get them by going to the web site at http://www. quickverse.com. What you will notice with WORDsearch 9 is that the interface is very similar to previous versions. The program has a Windows

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Explorer style interface with books organized into folders along the left side of the screen. The program has

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a toolbar for basic functions and menus for all the rest. Books can be arranged into windows either horizontally or vertically. You can open all of one kind of resource into a single window with tabs for each resource. The setup is familiar to Windows users. What's New in WORDsearch9 The biggest cosmetic difference is the icons. They are "clearer and easier to use, especially on high resolution monitors" as the "What's New" section of WS9's help file says. Pretty new icons are not all that you will find new in WS9. As the advertising says, "search" is their middle name. So they have greatly improved search functionality. What if you don't know how to spell the word you are searching? When you open the Search box and select the resource to search there will be a little button at the right of the search entry box. It has "ABC" on it. Click it and a new box will open; you can begin typing the word as you think it is spelled. A list of suggestions will be displayed below. Find your word and click "Insert" to have it put into the search box and, after you tell it to search for your word or phrase, the program will return the results. One of the new features in WS9 is the "by hits" button in the search results box. Click it and it will sort your results grouping them by the book of the Bible with the most hits first and listing them in descending order. If you have added books to the Favorites folder, they will be listed in the search dialogue box for easy selection. That way you can tell WS9 to search just your favorite resources.

One of the great things about Logos has always been the Parallel resources. When I opened a Bible in Logos, I could easily switch from Bible to Bible or Commentary to Commentary by pressing a keystroke (CTRL+Arrow). When I would study the Bible I could quickly read my text in all the translations I had installed. And as I was studying the commentaries I could quickly switch to a new one without going into the list of commentaries and opening them. It speeds up consulting more than one resource. Now in WS9 that is also possible with the new "Carousel" feature. At the bottom left of each window there is a pair of round, green arrows. Click that icon and the Carousel Editor opens. It has two panes. In the left are the Available books and in the right are the Books in this carousel. You can add books from the right to the left. So, for example, you could add all of your favorite Bibles to the Carousel. Then after you have them in the list, move them up or down in the list to determine the display order. Close the box. Now, you can switch between the list of Bibles by clicking on one of the blue arrows next to the green arrows at the bottom left of the pane. Alternatively, you can use the left or right arrow keys to switch. This makes it easy to switch between resources. Make a new carousel for each window. So you can have all your favorite Bibles or Commentaries accessible without having to open tabs for each of them. Set up a window for each kind of resource you want. Put a carousel in that window. And save the layout as a desktop. This is a great way to streamline your study using all your favorite resources.

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Another new feature is the Target Window feature. When you have a number of Bibles open, you might want all clicked Bible reference links to open in just one translation. On the toolbar of the Bible, there is a bulls-eye icon. Click it and all future hyperlinked Bible references will open in that Bible window. So you could have a Bible window open to the passage you are studying and another one open where Bible references will appear following your clicks, keeping the first one at the passage you are studying. The Target Window is automatically not linked to other windows, so you don't disturb your position. One of the reasons the target is useful is that you can setup all the other windows to sync with each other. This means that if you move from one part of the Bible to another, all the other books follow. So, for example, if you are studying through Hebrews, as you move from verse one to verse two the focus in the other Bibles and commentaries moves, too. However, you may only want one book to drive all the others. That way the only time they all move together is if that one book is moved. If you set up the ESV as the "driver" all the other Bibles and commentaries will move when you move within the ESV. But if you move in one of the commentaries it won't move. Now WS9 can be set up either way. Highlighting is improved with the ability to add your own "custom legend" to each of the colors. So you could make blue stand for all highlighting of verses you want to memorize. Green could be passages you plan to preach. And Yellow could be for passages about grace. Your creativity is the only limit. As you study, you often find a lot of content that you want gather and collect in order to use for a sermon or Bible study you are doing in a month or next week. There are some great ways to do this with third party apps like Microsoft OneNote or Evernote. But WS9 has a great feature called Thought Organizer. While you are reading in different resources you simply copy links to that content by right clicking and choosing "create a link to this paragraph". You then put that link in

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a Notes window or even better open a new document from the File menu and paste the links in the document. Save it with an appropriate name and find it later in the Documents section of the Resources list on the left. All the links can then be opened by simply clicking them. You have immediate access to all the content you saved for that purpose. If you later want to, you can delete that document or use it to actually write the sermon or Bible study and have it in your WORDsearch library for later use. Other Great Features There are some other great features that make it an excellent Digital Bible study tool. These are not new to version 9 but deserve mention, especially for those who have never used it. WORDsearch has an enormous library. You can buy it in many different packages, but you will also have the ability to add books for a fee. And if you are Twitter user, be sure to follow @wordsearchbible for daily deals on new content. Sometimes they offer a one day sale on some great resources for just a couple of dollars. For example, on the day I was writing this part of the review they were offering the Hebrew Bible, a

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$39.99 value for just $9.99. As the name suggests, it is a one day deal, so by the time you read this it will no longer be available. A previous deal included James Stalker's The Trial and Death of Jesus Christ for just 99 cents. With such a large library, you may need help organizing it for study. In WS9, if you are studying a passage, you can tell the program to go find all the resources about that passage. This is called the Instant Verse Study. Open it from the tools menu or the IVS button on the Toolbar. In the dialogue box, enter the verse or passage and then check all the Bible translations you want included, all the notes files you want, and all the commentaries you want. Then click the button to copy the content to the clipboard. You can then paste in anywhere you like ­ like a Word document, a new document within WS or elsewhere. Remember that some content will not work well outside the program. I included things from the HCSB Interlinear and it pasted into Word as a table for each word. The links in the Complete Word Study would not open anything. But you can read the content. If you paste it into a WS Document, the links work fine. I like that this feature remembers which Bibles and commentaries you want checked each time you open it. Also, you might want it to find your passage in everything. Just click on the All Books item in the drop down box in the top right corner. I'm not sure why, but that is the only thing in the menu. You would think that they would use a button instead of a drop down menu with only one choice. But that is a very minor thing. If you find yourself needing help, WS offers a lot of hand holding. First, the help system is very complete. Second, from the Easy Start Screen, which by default is what you first see when you open WS9, there is a link to Video Tutorials. The current selection of videos is sparse. But like previous versions I am confident that they will add more in the future. Right now you can find videos on opening books, navigating around the program, doing basic searches, the spelling helper feature and the target button mentioned above. These videos open in your web browser. Also, the WS site has several videos describing the new features (see:

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http://www.WORDsearchbible.com/ws9/). If you want some training go to http://www. WORDsearchbible.com/training/ and register for some online training classes. Randy Beck, the President of WORDsearch says, "These free classes are taught several times each week over the web by live trainers who interact and answer your questions." Finally, there are also the Discussion forums accessible from within the program. You will find them on the middle tab of the left hand panel where you see the list of books in the library. Click on Discussion and choose Log In. You can log in as a guest or apply for a screen name. You can register and get a screen name that allows you to login and participate in the forums. Once there you will find two folders ­ "Help and Feedback" and "Prayer". The prayer folder is a place to offer praise reports and prayer requests. Also, you can read others' reports and requests. But the help is in the other folder. Click it to reveal discussion forms for "Tips and Tricks" where you can learn from the other uses. You can also see the Tech Support forum where you can ask and answer questions. There are three other forums. One is for requesting new features in WS. One is for help with LESSONmaker, a program WS puts out deJanuary 2010

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signed to help create simple and quick lessons. The last forum is for requesting books and telling the company about typos or errors in books. The forums for tech support and tips and tricks will be your best place to learn about WS and get help with questions or problems you have. The Complete Biblical Library New Testament One of the great new resources released along with WS9 is The Complete Biblical Library New Testament. I was fortunate to receive a review copy of this resource to help in this review. You can see a video about this resource at http://www.WORDsearchbible.com/videos/CBLNT/. The Library is a multivolume work produced over 20 years by over 500 scholars. At the center of the library is the 9 volume study bible called The Complete Biblical Library (CBL) Interlinear Bible. It looks like any other Interlinear with a link to The CBL Greek-English Dictionary at the top. In the dictionary you get, not only the word in Greek, transliterated and the part of speech, but also a definition, the cognate, synonym, how its used in the Septuagint, grammatical forms the word takes in scripture, a listing of the places you find the word in the Bible, word studies in classical Greek, usage in the Septuagint, and NT usage. Finally, you get a list of the sources for the content in the dictionary. Along with the interlinear and the dictionary, you also get The CBL Commentary. It is an in-depth, usable, but scholarly, verse-by-verse commentary. There is also an Introductory Greek Grammar that will help you learn Greek. And finally, there are two more resources included: a Textual Apparatus and a Harmony of the Gospels The CBL helps take WORDsearch to a new level in Bible study.

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It is expensive, at $299, but I think it is a worthwhile investment and will make WS9 a really powerful tool for original language study in the Greek. Michael Cooper from WORDsearch says that they will begin work on the OT version very soon. For more information about the CBL see http://bit. ly/7aEYet. Recommendations When I am asked about Bible Software, I always recommend that users do one of three things. First, if you are already heavily invested in one program and are satisfied with its performance, then stick with it. It is rare that a piece of Bible software offers some compelling new feature that will make me recommend a switch. Second, if you are looking for a new program, then find the one that has what you need and see if you can try it out either for free or make sure there is a good return/refund policy. Third, if you don't mind go with more than one piece of software. So, if you are a WORDsearch user then the $39.99 upgrade fee is well worth it to get the new features in version 9. As a writer for CCMag I get most of the software I review for free. I paid for the WS9 upgrade. It is a good upgrade. It is stable and responsive. It has some great new features. And with the CBL you can do some very in depth Greek language study. OT Hebrew study is not as advanced in WS as it is some other programs like Bibleworks or Logos. But it will be soon when they finally get the OT version of CBL. If you are in the market for a new program, WS9 would be a good choice. You can try it out for just $49.95 for the Thompson Bible Library. There is also the Teaching Library ($99.95) the Preacher's Outline and Sermon Bible Library ($174.95) and the Preaching Library ($349.95). To see what each of these libraries includes go to http://www.WORDsearchbible. com/compare/. Also, WORDsearch has Bible Explorer 4.0 which is a free program that is very similar to WS and uses the same library format. Give it a try by going to http://www.bible-explorer.com. It is very similar to WS9. If you like it, you will like WS9. The harder question is, "Should someone switch to WORDsearch?" If you are satisfied with what you have, don't. I really like WS9 and use it every week to study and prepare for my messages. But there is nothing in WS9 that is so earth shatteringly great that I would say you cannot study the Bible without it. But while I would not recommend anyone switch if they are happy with their current program, I would say supplement what you have with WS. If you are a Bibleworks 8 user, then WS make a very good companion. Bibleworks is for language study. They don't have a lot of commentaries and other books to create a large digital library. That is actually foreign to their way of thinking. WS9 does have an extensive library and has some good features for creating documents from within the program. So, the two would go well together. Also, there might be some resources, like the CBL or the Holman Christian Standard Bible Reverse Interlinear, that are only available in WS. There are many other resources like this. So it would be a good companion.

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