100 posts! What’s next?

Blogging is developing into its own literary genre. A blog is part diary, newsletter, press release and soap box. And one of the genre’s most distinctive (and annoying) characteristics is talking about itself. The Logos Blog is no different…for which we apologize.

This is the 100th post to the Logos Blog. We’ve been posting every business day since we started in late July, on topics ranging from personal to technical, from fun to features, and from soup to syntax.

Do you want more of the same? More of some and less of others? We would love to hear from you on what you want to see in the Logos Blog. Please take a moment and leave a comment with your feedback.

And if you started reading the Logos Blog recently, you may want to use the monthly archive links on the side column to catch up on older posts where you’ll find tips on using Logos Bible Software among many other posts interesting, useful, and irrelevant.

Thanks for reading!

Block or Sentence Flow Diagrams

Another feature in the upcoming LDLS 3.0 release has to do with sentence diagramming.
Yes, we’re aware that there are more ways to diagram a sentence than you can shake a stick at (pun intended). One of these methods is the “Block” or “Sentence Flow” diagram.

The linked video presentation walks through using the new feature. It is all contained within the present sentence diagrammer. The steps are simple:

  1. Create a New Sentence Diagram document (or open an existing one)
  2. Insert a passage
  3. When inserting a passage, select the “As Wrapping Columns” option
  4. Enter the passage and version information
  5. Click Insert Passage

That’s it. Now you can click and drag text around as you see fit. I should note that I didn’t think too much about this particular block diagram. Looking at it in retrospect, there are things that need to be done differently. But since it is an LDLS document, I can just open the diagram and edit it later to clean that stuff up.

Video: 950×750, Flash, approx. 2 megs.

One cool feature here is that you can insert more than one column of text. So, as I did in the video, you could insert one column of Greek text and another column of English text, and match them up.
Or — hold on to your hats — you could enter different accounts of an event in the synoptic gospels and block-diagram them in parallel. You can use the stick diagramming symbols (like, say, brackets, lines or arrows) to draw attention to parallel groups or features. On top of that, all of the Visual Markup features are available in the sentence diagrammer.

All done? Go to File | Export. Look, you can save it as a PDF to show your friends, or to put on your web page or blog!

Look, in the air, it’s Logos Bible Software!

One of my favorite sales stories is about the Logos salesperson who sat next to someone reading their Bible on a plane. Our employee took out his laptop, opened Logos to the same passage, and nudged his seatmate. After an in-air demo the Bible student pulled out a credit card and placed an order right there.

At a company meeting we awarded our flying sales rep a small airplane model as a sales trophy. Not be outdone, two other sales people “earned their wings” in short order.

Statistically, it is not too hard to find someone interested in Bible study sitting next to you on a plane. But people carrying paper Bibles still outnumber Bible software users, so I was really impressed when Scott Lindsey came back to the office to report that the person sitting next to him on the plane was actually using our software during the flight. (Scott, of course, showed him what he could do with more books and sold him an upgrade.)

We are flying all the time and we love to meet our users. So when you are on the road, keep an eye out for the Logos logo on shirts and luggage tags and say hello!

Space Walk at Logos

Our guest blogger today is Dale Pritchett, co-founder of Logos Bible Software. And my father. But not in that order.

When I got back from the SBL meeting in Philadelphia I had this sense that Logos Bible Software had changed in some substantial but indefinable way. The demonstrations and conversations were of a different nature than the past. We have always demonstrated new titles and new features at conferences but yet somehow this year felt very different. As more and more people asked about my experience at the conference I began to sense why this conference was different. We at Logos had taken our first “space walk”.

Logos Bible Software has changed a lot over the years but it has always followed a simple formula of better and better computer enhancement of familiar manual tasks. You work with a paper library, you work with a digital library; familiar tasks refined and enhanced through innovative software. And now there is Logos Bible Software 3.0 and suddenly it is like “Star Trek” going where no man has gone before. It is like the first time man walked in space. There was no earthbound walking experience with which it could be compared. Space walking is a whole new experience with its own rules, equipment, challenges and rewards. This is the analogy I was looking for. Logos Bible Software 3.0 is like your first space walk.

For the first time, the software is not mimicking a manual process. There is no print-based equivalent to our new syntactical databases. There is no published printed edition of a Greek, Hebrew or English text with every clause identified and tagged. There are no preachers, teachers or Bible students searching for “functional” relationships as opposed to “form or morphological” tags. We have never had the ability to look up in a book, or for that matter, a Bible software program, the answer to the question, “Who or what is the object of God’s love?” Not only is such a functional search now possible, the results, though derived in the original languages, may be displayed in English as well as Greek and Hebrew. The amazing thing to me is that the most complex linguistic functionality that has ever been featured in Bible software will have immediate practical value to the English Bible student through the use of reverse interlinear Bibles which allow Greek and Hebrew search results to be accurately displayed in English, Spanish or any Bible for which we have a reverse interlinear edition.

This is a space walk.

The challenge ahead will be to describe the new features in Logos Bible Software 3.0 without the comforting analogies to manual systems. In trying to explain syntactical data bases to a user the other day I suggested that viewing syntax was like seeing the Bible in sentence diagrams with exposed subjects, verbs, objects, indirect objects, etc. Searching syntax would be like having the ability to circle a section of the diagram and look for other matching structures with or without the words attached to the diagram. That’s my best attempt so far in describing the concept. I will keep looking for analogies that help. This is the problem of space walking.

Sometimes It’s The Little Things

I love the work of Edward Tufte, a data design guru who writes beautiful books that also serve to illustrate his ideas about design.

I was first introduced to Tufte’s books shortly after I graduated from college, and immediately asked for one for Christmas (they’re not cheap). I find that his ideas challenge me to pay attention to design in everything I do, and help me think about how and why design matters.

That’s why I was excited to see that a new feature in Libronix DLS version 3.0 (the first beta release was recently posted, and all I can say is WOW!) is rooted in one of Tufte’s ideas for conveying a lot of information in a compact, unobtrusive form.

In the second-generation Exegetical Guide, there is a small graph next to each word from the passage. It’s called a “Lemma Density Graph” and it’s an example of what’s known as a sparkline.

Sparkline is a term coined by Edward Tufte to describe “small, high-resolution graphics embedded in a context of words, numbers, images. Sparklines are data-intense, design-simple, word-sized graphics.” You can read all about sparklines in this draft chapter from Tufte’s new book, along with a lengthy series of posts on how sparklines are being used in various contexts.

In the example below, taken from the new Exegetical Guide, the Lemma Density Graph sparkline indicates the density of the lemma ὅτι across the New Testament. The more a particular biblical book uses ὅτι, the taller the bar is for that book. Of course, the height is proportional to the total number of words in each book so that the graph is not skewed toward long books like the Gospels.

As you can see, the word occurs 1296 times in the New Testament. Each category of Bible book (Gospels, Acts, Pauline epistles, other epistles, Revelation) gets its own color and you can see that a yellow bar near the end is the big winner.

So which book is it dominating the graph here? By hovering the mouse over the bar in the chart, I can see that it’s 1 John and the word is used 76 times.

This is not a surprise to anyone who has studied 1 John and noted the tight, logical progression employed by the author. The sparkline provides a great visual illustration of this rhetorical characteristic, and it’s viewable at a glance, inline with the rest of the information.

I can even interact with the graph in ways that take me a step deeper in my study of ὅτι…If I click the 1 John bar, Graph Bible Search Results opens and I can choose any number of graphs to tease meaning from the data (e.g., Number of Hits in Chapter / Number of Words in Chapter) or export it to Excel and work with it there.

These sparklines can draw out all manner of word usage patterns such as hapax legomena, words peculiar to a single book or author, or words that appear more often in certain genres.

I think it’s a very nifty little feature, one that I trust our users will find to be a helpful addition to version 3.0. I also think it’s very cool that this feature is rooted in solid design principles from one of the leading minds on the subject. One of the things I appreciate about our application is that the developers pay attention to “small details” of design so that it not only functions well but looks great, too.

(Note: If you get excited by this post and decide to install the beta, please note that our beta releases are unsupported and be sure to read the warnings first.)

Syntax Papers from 2005 ETS Conference

As mentioned earlier on this blog, Eli and I presented papers at the meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) describing how Logos is moving beyond the word level into syntax of the original languages.

Eli’s paper (approx. 350 KB PDF) discusses our approach to issues of syntax in general, using examples from the Andersen-Forbes database to illustrate major points of implementation.

Rick’s paper (approx. 1.4 MB PDF) provides information on both Greek syntax datasets that are being worked on and short examples (and screen captures) of how this information can be used.

Syriac-English New Testament Interlinear

Syriac SlideAt the recent Society of Biblical Literature meeting in Philadelphia, George A. Kiraz, president of Gorgias Press, presented a joint project with Logos Bible Software to create an interlinear to the Syriac New Testament in electronic and printed forms. The electronic interlinear will become part of Logos Bible Software and the printed version will be published by Gorgias Press. A team of international scholars have already committed to producing the interlinear in the next three years.

Gorgias Press publishes a number of Syriac Bible resources. For more information on the project, including an overview of the specialized tools Logos built for editing the interlinear, download Dr. Kiraz’s PowerPoint presentation (226 KB).

Greek Syntax: Searching OpenText.org Material

I’ve briefly discussed searching OpenText.org material at the word level; this post discusses searching at the clause level, with word group level stuff in the mix.

There’s even a groovy video of the search I describe so you can see exactly what’s going on (see bottom of this article). One take, no cuts. This is done with the current beta version of Logos Bible Software (3.0 Beta 1) and an extra syntax searching component currently in development.

Continue Reading…

Where Do You Live?

Our blog stats show that we get visitors from all over the world. Just for November, I see visits from Hungary, Israel, Singapore, Bahamas, Denmark, New Zealand, Brazil, Spain, and Japan, to name just a few.

Rick Brannan recently pointed me to a cool new site called Frappr (“Friend Mapper”) that’s a Google mash-up: it combines Google Maps with group labeling features.

I created a map for Logos Blog readers so we could meet one another. To add yourself, go to the Logos Bible Software Blog map and click “Add Yourself” in the right-hand column. You can add a photo and short message, if desired.

If you get a moment this weekend, stop by and say hello!

ETS/SBL Booth Signage

The ETS and SBL meetings wrapped up yesterday and the Logos team is heading home (perhaps some will make it back in time for our big Thanksgiving lunch at noon today). It sounds like the meetings were very fruitful, with a great deal of buzz around our current and future products.
For those who weren’t able to attend, I thought it would be fun to show off the signage that adorned our booth at both events. Click any of the thumbnails below to pop up a larger version.