This past weekend, I had a few conversations with some friends from seminary about Logos Bible Software 4. One of them described his compulsive tendency to regularly check for Libronix updates in the old version of the software. I explained to him that one of the great benefits of Logos 4 is that it updates itself.
In the previous version of Logos, you needed to manually check to make sure you had the latest books and features. If we made an update to a resource, you didn’t get it unless you ran the update. If you unlocked a book, you needed to update Libronix to see it.
With Logos 4, manual updates are a thing of the past. No more syncing your licenses or manually downloading updates to your software. Logos 4 updates while you sleep. It’s always synced with our servers to make sure you have the latest build of the software. New releases, resource updates, and other features are delivered automatically and downloaded the moment they become available. Once updates are downloaded, you’ll see a message that asks if you want to install the updates. This means you’ll always have the latest and greatest.
Even better, all of your content is backed up. You can have the peace of mind that all your documents—notes, clippings, custom guides, and more—are safely stored on our servers. If your computer crashes, simply reinstall Logos 4, and all your data will be restored—right where you left it. You can even see exactly when Logos 4 is syncing to the servers.
We’re adding lots of features to Logos 4 in the near future. We’re constantly rebuilding many of our resources to make them even better. And we’re fine-tuning the software and making improvements around the clock based on customer feedback and discussion in the Logos Community Forums. You’ll receive all of these updates the moment they’re available—automatically and effortlessly.
The 3.0 version of Logos Bible Software has been out in the marketplace for several years, and it works pretty well. Still, it was built on an underlying technology that was better suited to 1999 than 2009, and has been starting to show its age. That, and I’ve always thought it could use a little more design.
So, four years ago, we embarked on a ground-up rewrite of the software and a ground-up redesign of the user interface. Yes, we re-used some of the code that shows a book on screen, some of the searching internals, and so on. But the user interface, the part that users see and interact with, is completely new.
My role in the Logos 4 rewrite was “designer”, which means I spent a lot of time making pages like this:
Some typical pages from the Logos 4 specification.
There are upwards of 1,000 (?) such pages.
I like to think of it this way:
If a software project is like a construction site, then I’m like the architect. I drew the plans. I didn’t build anything, and the core ideas weren’t mine. Still, I made a thousand tiny decisions every day, pondering such imponderables as: Link or button or link button? What happens when you click it? Where best to put it?
Bob (the President of Logos) was like the owner/client. It’s really his baby. He has ideas, lots of them. Sometimes he scribbles them on my whiteboard. My job as designer is to translate his ideas, along with customer feedback, marketing input, and a thousand other streams of information and opinion into workable designs.
The lead developers are like engineers. If an architect says, “We’re going to build a 10,000 square foot room with no support columns” the engineer is there to tell him that it can’t be done. Or that it can, but not with the budget we’ve been allocated. When it comes right down to it, the designs are just suggestions of what could be; once you get out to the job site and start sinking knee deep in the mud, your pretty blueprints may not count for much.
The other devs are like the tradesmen and craftsmen who actually do the work. Like carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and painters, they are all highly skilled at making wonderful things. The Logos team is the best. I’m sure Google and Microsoft have great teams, but the Logos dev team is a highly motivated, highly intelligent, highly worthy group of men and women.
In the process, I tried to adhere to three design principles that I shamelessly stole from the Shakers:
(1) Is it necessary? This is all about prioritizing the design goals, and not getting carried away with the client’s/user’s/marketeer’s exuberance. You try not to build the bad ideas, but given that you’ve only got so much time and effort, sometimes you can’t even build all the great ones, either. So the first question boils down to: Can we ship without this? We were relentlessly minimal about the design of Logos 4; it’s fully featured, but nothing on screen is wasted. At every turn, we asked ourselves: What’s the simplest thing that could possibly work? One of the mottos we used was: “What you need, when you need it.”
(2) Does it suit its purpose? This is really the hard one, because you have to know what goals a given feature is trying to accomplish, and then you have to figure out how to measure whether or not they were, in fact, accomplished. You can fail at either end: Identifying the right goals won’t help much if you build something that doesn’t accomplish them. Testing a product to death won’t help much if you’ve identified the wrong goals. “Yes, it does the wrong thing entirely, but it does it really well!“
(3) Can it be beautiful? I don’t do final art, and I don’t make pixel-perfect specifications, but I do try to make sure my mockup screens and specification documents look as good as possible. Why? Because I find it’s not that much harder for me to do, and it gives everyone, from client to developer to art designer a better vision of what we’re trying to accomplish.
If those three goals can be achieved, then you’ve hit that sweet spot we designers like to call “elegance.” With Logos 4, I think we did. (I may be biased, of course.)>
The design work doesn’t stop there: Parallel to Logos 4, we designed an iPhone app for Logos library resources, and we’re working on several other projects that I can’t tell you about. Yet.
Thomas, married father of four, is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute with a BA in Pastoral Ministry. He has pastored Fame Evangelical Church in Moweaqua, IL for eleven years. For the last five years Pastor Black has travelled to Haiti to teach a two week seminary module on Spiritual Warfare at the Emmaus Biblical Seminary (carrying his Logos Bible Software with him.)
We touched base this morning via Windows Messenger about his experience.
Logos: When did you start using Logos Bible Software?
Thomas Black: I picked up my first copy of Logos 2 just after starting ministry. It came with just a few resources—I don’t recall the level. I don’t recall being wowed by the interface but I used it a bit.
Logos: Were you with us for the switch to 3.0?
Thomas Black: Around that time I went into the local bookstore to pick up some Sunday school materials, and the bookshelf had one book which included a copy of Libronix on it. That’s when I first heard there was a version 3. I couldn’t resist it. I picked it up, and ran home. I’m a bit of a computer geek and couldn’t resist a new bit of software. It was the newness that caught me—rather than the resource itself. Once I installed it, I thought, “This is what Bible software should be like!” I snapped up a few more resources after that and it wasn’t long before I bought the Scholar’s Library package and then moved up to Scholar’s Library: Silver, then to Gold.
Logos: Was it difficult to keep Logos 4 a secret during the beta testing?
Thomas Black: Keeping Logos 4 a secret almost killed me. I host a blog and occasionally someone would ask me and I just had to keep quiet. Several times I or one of the other beta testers would accidentally post something in the wrong forum—thanks to sharp eyes we managed against the odds to keep the secret.
Logos: What were your initial feelings about Logos 4 as you began to interact with it?
Thomas Black: At first, I was one of the detractors to the interface. I hated the home page. That’s not an overstatement. After a few days, and listening to responses from Bob, I started settling in. I saw the logic of introducing all kinds of new information to us. It was like the “book of the day” section on the Libronix 3 home page had grown to many books of the day, and I saw that as a good thing. I started to understand that the newspaper-like layout was meant to pull me in to areas I might not look at otherwise—and it worked. I’ve rediscovered many resources I forgot I had.
Logos: Did you find that Logos was responsive during the beta-testing?
Thomas Black: I thought the whole crew at Logos was amazing. I was really impressed with the attitudes of Bob, and all the programmers and others as they kept responding not only to bug reports but sometimes to some pretty strong criticism. Occasionally plans were changed midstream in response. The whole experience was quite positive. I know that you were all listening to us as beta-testers. We didn’t always get our way but we all knew that our voices were heard.
Logos: How did the Logos 4 experience change as updates started to come?
Thomas Black: There are two answers to that one: first, it was partially frustrating especially as multi-gigabyte updates came down the pipe. Those were tough. Second, the experience continually improved. Every update of the program was better, smoother, faster and always there was an impressive batch of bug fixes. My hat is off to the programmers at Logos. They were working long hard hours at a feverish pace for two months. The evidence of their labor is on my desktop right now waiting for me to continue my studies.
Logos: Did you feel that camaraderie was created with you and the other beta-testers through the experience?
Thomas Black: I had a blast with those guys! Several of us already knew of each other from the former newsgroups, but I really felt like during the beta, due to our frequent interactions, that our relationships grew quite a bit. There was quite a bit of good natured ribbing going on, and despite that, no one, that I can recall, got their feelings hurt. They were a great group of people to work with.
Logos: If you were showing Logos 4 to someone unfamiliar with using Bible software for study and devotion what items would you highlight for them and why?
Thomas Black: Great question . . . first, I’d begin with pointing out the obvious things. Enter your passage and click go still applies. It’s simple and yet quite powerful due to the built-in (and customizable) Passage Guide. After that, I’d work them through the library, just learning how to find out what you have in there is powerful. If they don’t learn how to use the library, they’re not going to get everything out of the software. Beyond that, I think the software can take even the novice where they want to go almost naturally.
Logos: Thanks so much for giving me some of your time this morning and I appreciate your candor.
Thomas Black: You’re welcome. Thanks to you and the whole Logos crew. This has been a great experience.
We are merely hours into the release of Logos Bible Software 4, and while many of you have already waited for your massive libraries to index, you may have caught yourself thinking, “I thought Logos 4 was supposed to be fast. What happened to ‘What You Need, When You Need It’?”
Logos 4 takes searching to a whole new realm with faster, smarter searching. And unlike most search engines, Logos 4 provides matches for synonyms! For those missing the significance of this, if you are searching for articles on communion, no search engine is going to bring results back for synonyms like the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist. Nor will the other search engines ask you if you wanted a closely related topic like fellowship. This is the difference with Logos 4. We have gone through hundreds of topics and manually connected them to relative terms.
In order to do such searches, however, every word and every term in the thousands of books available for Logos needs to be indexed during installation. This allows Logos 4 to search a library of 10–10,000 books and return thousands of results in under one second—less time than it takes to pull one print book off your shelf! Nearly 63,000 hits for communion in 35,951 articles in less than 1 second means more time studying and less time searching.
It’s true, this functionality takes a significant amount of time to install—an investment of your time in the beginning—but what you get in return later on is a fulfillment to what we promised from the start, "What You Need, When You Need It." Indexing your entire library allows the time consuming hindrances to be removed so you can get right to the task of serious Bible study.
Indexing. Think of it as if you were waiting for UPS to deliver your Amazon order. A little patience and investment of time up front—during installation—means that later on, whether you’re preparing for next Sunday’s sermon, working on your dissertation, or having your daily devotional time, Logos 4 will deliver thousands of relevant results —fast!
Upgrading your base package gives you all the benefits of Logos 4—a revolutionary tool for Bible study. Logos 4 has a brand new Home Page to get you started, powerful (and fast!) new search tools, an intuitive and easy-to-use design, plus lots of other new features.
When you upgrade, you get a tremendous amount of new content for minimal cost. You could potentially get hundreds of books for up to 95% off. We’ve added lots of new content to every base package—new Bible translations, reverse interlinears, commentary sets, reference material, preaching and ministry resources, and a whole lot more. Depending on your situation, you could easily double or triple your current library at minimal cost to you. Take a look at the comparison chart on logos.com/upgrade to see the sheer number of new books we’ve added to our collections.
With an upgrade to Logos 4, you can take advantage of today’s most advanced tools designed specifically with Logos Bible Software 4 in mind. Visualize the Bible with new people, places, and things databases. Zoom into the Holy Land with interactive, topographical maps linked with coordinates to Google Maps. Get an additional perspective on the place you’re exploring with thousands of images and photographs—all viewable with the new media resource functionality of Logos 4. You can also interact with the stories of Scripture with high resolution Infographics commissioned specifically for the release of Logos 4. Logos 4 also comes with new one-of-a-kind databases, stunning graphics, and a whole lot more.
You have nothing to lose. Literally. You will retain all of your current resources when you upgrade. When you buy an electronic book from Logos, you will never lose your book. And we’ll never make you buy the same book twice. That means if you’ve recently purchased new books, and now decided to upgrade, you won’t lose the resources you’ve purchased. You’ll simply add a significant amount of new content at a fraction of the cost. You keep everything you’ve purchased in the past—and you’ll gain dozens, hundreds, or maybe over a thousand new books at a significant discount, depending on your situation.
For the initial release period, we’re offering discounts on all upgrades. Visit the custom upgrade discount calculator to see what discounts you qualify for on an upgrade to a new Logos 4 base package. If you’ve been thinking of expanding your library, the release of Logos 4 presents you with the perfect opportunity. Upgrade today!
Today we are announcing the all-new Logos Bible Software 4, designed from scratch to accomplish our goal of helping more people do more and better Bible study.
The leading Bible software products available today (including our own Libronix DLS 3.0) are powerful tools designed 10-20 years ago. Most Bible software companies were started in a day when users owned screwdrivers for opening their computer case and knew what a DIP switch was. Our software was designed for people who liked technology and were comfortable with it.
Today everybody has a computer, and everybody isn’t a computer-geek. A computer is just one more tool in your life for doing whatever it is you want to do, from Bible study to photography to water skiing. While technology has moved into the mainstream, it hasn’t stopped improving. We re-invented Logos Bible Software repeatedly to stay on the cutting edge of technology and user interface. But the edge keeps moving.
Our last product couldn’t anticipate the incredible inter-connectedness of today’s users, with widespread broadband, wireless, and mobile-phone Internet. Today’s leading programming language didn’t even exist when we designed the Libronix DLS. Apple and Microsoft have changed processors, operating systems, and more. And, most importantly, the customer base has changed: today’s Bible student with a computer isn’t a computer hobbyist. We are appliance users who expect power, elegance, and simplicity. We want computers to be like our toasters, TV’s, and cars. Turn them on and they just work.
This generation needed yet another back-to-the-drawing-board approach to Bible software. And we were glad to do it. Because only by starting with a clean slate can you leave behind mistakes and poor choices. Only facing an empty whiteboard can you design an architecture that isn’t constrained by the limitations of long-gone hardware and operating systems. Only by abandoning your existing product can you truly hear what your users want in a world unconstrained by yesterday’s designs.
Throwing it all away and starting over is incredibly rare in the software world. It is considered a dangerous business decision. It puts years between major releases and increases development costs. And the better your existing product is, the more your new product upsets existing users, many of whom just wanted a few small improvements.
But it is the only way to take advantage of the latest technology. It is the only way to design for today’s users, and their expectations about elegant design, powerful features, and Internet integration. It is the only way to keep some of the world’s finest software developers interested and engaged. (It’s no fun maintaining a decades-old codebase.)
Starting over takes courage, but it is the only way to do something extraordinary. Logos Bible Software 4 is not an upgrade. Logos 4is Bible software re-imagined. To help you do more and better Bible study.
Do you have a Windows Mobile phone? If so, we’d appreciate your participation in a very short survey regarding specific devices.
If you have another type of mobile device, don’t worry, we’re thinking about your needs, too. Your input in the August survey has already been put to work!
Later today we will award our first SeminaryScholarship.com scholarship. The scholarship includes $1,000.00 towards tuition, plus a copy of Logos Scholar’s Library which contains more than 330 titles, which in print would cost over $6,100.00. Next Scholarship–January 10, 2010
While we’ll announce the scholarship winner next week, we wanted to let you know that we’ll be awarding another SeminaryScholarship.com scholarship on January 10, 2010. So, if you didn’t get around to applying for our last scholarship, you can apply now. For those who applied for our last scholarship, we encourage and invite you to apply again. Not in Seminary?
Help the seminarians around you by letting them know about this scholarship opportunity. Post a link on Facebook, tweet about it, or just send the link (http://www.seminaryscholarship.com/) in email to someone you know in seminary.
With the weather in Bellingham turning cooler, we decided to heat things up last Friday with our annual Salsa Cook-off. This year we had fourteen competitors vying for fame and glory. Congratulations to our winners!
In the HOT category
First place: #7, Eric O. – Vicious Verde, with 90 points
Second place: #1, Darren W. – Cilantro Lime, with 70 points
Third place: #9, Lindsey K. – Deliciously Spicy, with 67 points
In the MILD category
First place: #14, Sarah E. – Pampered Palate, with 99 points
Second place: #2, April T. – California Dreaming, with 87 points
Third place: #12, Lindsey K. – Cool and Refreshing, with 66 points Sarah E. was kind enough to share her winning recipe for Pampered Palate Salsa:
16 servings (2Tb. Each)
Note: I served this to 9 people and it was enough to have seconds.
1 jar (6.5 ounces) marinated artichoke hearts, undrained
1/4 cup pitted ripe olives, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
3 medium plum tomatoes, diced
1 garlic clove, pressed
2 tablespoons snipped fresh basil leaves
1. Drain marinade from artichokes into bowl. Chop artichokes, olives and red onion. Dice tomatoes.
2. Place vegetables into bowl. Add pressed garlic. Add basil to vegetable mixture; mix gently. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Yield: 16 servings
Nutrients per serving: (2 tablespoons): Calories 17, Total Fat 1 g, Saturated Fat 0 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrate 2 g, Protein 0 g, Sodium 80 mg, Fiber less than 1 g