Thu, July 29, 2010 | Misc.|
Almost 20 years ago we started Logos Bible Software with the idea of building a tool to help people study the Bible. Over the years Logos has grown from two programmers in a basement with one idea to 200 people offering 10,000 resources for Bible study.
As you can imagine, our mission has changed along the way, too. Today it reads:
To help more people do more and better Bible study.
Okay, so the mission hasn’t changed much; we added some adjectives. We have spent a lot of time on the plan of execution, though, and I thought I should share it with you so you can understand what we’re doing, what we’re going to be doing, and why.
First, the fundamentals:
Logos is all about Bible study. We’ve released software, a paper magazine, and video training materials. We host a conference. We’re on multiple technology platforms. We’re on the desktop and on the web. How does everything fit together? It’s all about Bible study.
Logos leverages technology. We choose projects that leverage our technology expertise. Even if a project isn’t software, you can be sure our decision to do it was based on leveraging technology. Of course technology isn’t essential to Bible study; it’s just our particular skill, and a place where we can serve well. We’re following centuries of non-technology-based Bible study tools, and many organizations serve that need well already.
Logos harnesses the network effect. Each e-book we add to our system is extensively tagged and linked to all the others. The scholarly translations and databases we build are both made with and delivered inside our software; the books and articles we commission build on content we offer and help users go deeper with our tools.
Logos is easy. The real work of Bible study is inside the student. We just provide tools and resources, so we need to focus on equipping without obstructing. The easier we make it to get into Bible study, the more people we can encourage to do it. The easier the tools, the more likely people can do better study. Easy means excellent user interface. Easy means elegant design that engages the student. Easy means fantastic customer service so a technical problem or misunderstanding doesn’t get in the way of getting into the Word.
Now, the plan:
Access. An internal joke at Logos goes “If it isn’t in the Passage Guide, it doesn’t exist,” because resources aren’t useful if you can’t find them. Logos Bible Software makes it easy to access the resources in your library when and where you need them. Our “one license, any platform” philosophy means you can access your content on Mac, Windows, iPhone, iPad, smart phone, and the web. We plan to offer even more interfaces in the future. We are planning task-specific mobile applications that connect to your library and web sites tailored to specific data sets.
Your Logos.com account will let you access your content (and documents you create) wherever you are, with whatever interface you need.
Content. We are planning more content for Bible study. Our scholarly translations and databases already make it easier to study the Bible in Greek and Hebrew; our visual resources are an aid in understanding and teaching others. Behind the scenes, we are building metadata that links content together and improves discoverability. An extensive set of tools lets you create your own content, too, ranging from notes to highlights to sentence diagrams. Synchronization with your Logos.com account connects your content to you, not a specific device.
Community. We study, learn, teach, and share in community with others. We are planning new ways to connect with others around Bible study. We will have ways to collaborate on documents, aids to studying in a group, and tools that help you share the fruit of your study with others. You will be able to link your Logos.com account to multiple groups and choose what you share with the communities important to you. And because we know that Logos Bible Software is itself part of a larger community, we plan new ways to connect our tools with the work of others.
Access, content, and community are interwoven; each both enables and is enabled by the other two. The connection point is your Logos.com account. Already this single login manages your content on multiple platforms and identifies you in communities like the Logos Forums and Sermons.Logos.com. In the future it will be even more valuable. (Is your profile filled in?)
How will this master plan be manifested?
That’s the exciting part: we are going to find out together.
We have some ideas, though, and you can see them starting to come together.
Books.Logos.com shows a content-specific search interface for scanned books from a seminary library. (We plan to link Logos Bible Software 4 to this site in the future.)
Sermons.Logos.com shows how community-created content can be shared with new users on the Internet and (through a section in the Passage Guide) inside Logos Bible Software.
Biblia.com is an alternate interface to most of the content in your digital library that is easy to use over the web. For some users it may be all they need for simple Bible reading; for others it’s a way to check a book when they aren’t at their own computer.
Topics.Logos.com exposes the Logos Controlled Vocabulary to everyone, and lets users contribute web links and share reading lists that will automatically show up in Logos 4.
Almanac.Logos.com lets our community of users search and edit a growing database of information on the Christian world (particularly seminaries, at this point). This database provides a platform for connecting users by school, organization, denomination, and area of interest.
Api.Biblia.com offers the power of Logos Bible Software to other web sites, enabling mashups and creative ideas we never imagined.
And we’re not done. There are new projects coming, and we are experimenting and learning as we go. We need to hear from you about what you need, and your ideas about how we can serve and connect more people who want – who need! – to study the Bible.
I am excited about our “master plan,” and thrilled that we get to play this small part in The Master’s Plan. Thanks for sharing in it with us!
Thu, July 22, 2010 | Misc.|
We sure have; Logos 4 for Mac has been in Alpha all year long, yet thousands of users have already made the switch. Undeterred by theft or theft, our Mac team has been putting out new Alpha releases every two weeks. And today I’m happy to announce we’ve hit Beta!
Logos 4 for Mac is working well, and we have most features of Logos 4 for Windows up and running on the Mac. (And in some cases running twice as fast!) Beta means we’re confident you can install Logos 4 for Mac and join the thousands already using it as their primary Bible study tool. The developers will be focusing on your feedback, fixing bugs as they are reported, and polishing the user interface.
Then we’ll add the minor missing features and make sure we’re in sync with the 4.1 features already in beta on the Windows side. Moving forward, our goal is simultaneous release of new features on Mac and Windows, and a seamless cross-platform experience for all your books and data: Windows, Mac, iPhone/iPad, and even the web.
To report bugs or get help, be sure to check out our forums, where you’ll find a strong user community and many of our developers hanging-out.
I hope you’ll join me in thanking our development team for their hard work and long hours. They’ve done an amazing job catching up to decades of Windows development in a very short time. And thank you for your patience; I trust you will find the result a blessing and an aid in more and better Bible study!
Tue, July 13, 2010 | Misc.|
It seems like it was just yesterday that thieves broke into our Mac satellite office and made off with all the computers.
But it wasn’t yesterday, it was a month ago, on June 11th.
Apparently they liked the way we loaded up those iMacs as developer workstations, because they came back last week and took all the replacements. And this time they left behind the PCs owned by the company we’re sub-leasing space from. That “Switch” campaign is finally sinking in!
Twice-bitten by the big city, we’re going to hunker down here in low-crime Bellingham (where we’re in our own more secure and video-surveilled space) and work hard to keep our Mac product moving ahead. Maybe we can move the Mac developers to a 24×7 schedule; we’d get the dual benefit of speeding development and having a night-watch team!
Thu, March 18, 2010 | Misc.|
Getting Logos 4 for the Mac finished is one of our top priorities. Recent Alpha releases are in good shape, and offer many of the core features. We’re working at top speed to get everything else done, too.
The number one questions, of course, is “When?” And we can’t say, because we don’t know. We’re putting our energy into coding, not estimating. And, because of the unique challenges involved in sharing code between platforms, there are many things we can’t predict the time-frame for, even if we tried.
The good news is that the Logos 4 Mac team is seeing success after success. Our shared-code strategy is working, and ensuring compatibility of both content and documents. And as the platform becomes more stable we’re seeing increased speed implementing features at the interface layer.
We’ve been hiring Mac developers for quite a while, and we have even brought some of the Windows development team over to the Mac side. But we couldn’t hire enough great Mac developers fast enough here in Bellingham, so we decided to do something even more dramatic: We opened a temporary office in Bellevue, Washington where we could get access to a bigger pool of Mac developers.
We rented an apartment and moved our Mac team lead there for four days a week. He’s helping keep the half-dozen programmers there coordinated with the larger team in Bellingham.
The bottom line? Logos 4 Mac is full-speed ahead, and making lots of progress. We can’t predict the final ship date, but we’re confident we’re doing everything possible to make it as soon as possible. And, of course, there’s a new Alpha release every two weeks, which many users report is stable and meets their needs on a daily basis.
Want even more updates? Keep an eye on our forums, where you can hear about the latest progress and even interact with the development team.
Mon, November 2, 2009 | Misc.|
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.
Sat, October 24, 2009 | Misc.|
Tue, January 13, 2009 | Products|
We’ve been searching the Internet to see what people are saying about Bible Study Magazine, and it’s been great! We are thrilled to see so many positive reviews and to be getting so many new subscribers.
In the course of our searching we found that someone even wrote their own ad for Bible Study Magazine and our Kutless track giveaway:
“Hey kids! How would you like to win a FREE subscription to Bible Study Magazine?!? And can you also imagine the idea of getting a FREE mp3 rockin-roll audio music song? Have you ever fantasized about what would happen if your parent’s #1 favorite religious magazine teamed up with your #1 favorite rock band and threw a double-threat mega-contest giveaway with a whole buncha cool stuff?!?”
Sounds cool to me!
I did find the copy a bit breathless and “over-the-top”, but when you’ve got an “opponent and satirist of Christianity” (Wikipedia) who was chosen to speak at the 29th American Atheists Convention pumping your Bible Study Magazine, well… I’ll forgive the hyperbole. (The man paints his head red and wears little devil horns; he’s clearly a dramatic personality.)
I’m not sure this ad (placed on a page where the artist mocks the email he receives from outraged Christians) will be bringing us many new subscribers, but we’re flattered, after just two issues, to be on the radar of fans and scorners alike.
We want to live up to the copy and become your “#1 favorite” magazine soon!
Tue, October 28, 2008 | Products|
A potential customer emailed me his concerns about investing in an electronic library:
“I have had the desire to invest in an electronic library, but I am terrified of investing all of this money into one and then losing my money’s worth because new computers will not be able to read them. How does Logos deal with this? Will my grandchildren be able to use my electronic library?”
This is a fear we hear regularly, but one that quickly goes away once we explain how Logos licenses the content, not the file-format.
It’s true that digital data can be lost if it is not constantly migrated to new storage media and kept in up-to-date or easily parsed formats. Paper books can be lost, too — just look at New Orleans and the libraries lost to flooding and mold.
The key issue is, who is ensuring your continued access? With paper it’s you — you have to keep it dry and away from fire, and you have to be willing to store and move it. (Most books are “lost” when people don’t want to move them yet again.)
I can’t make guarantees about the future; nobody can. But in Logos’ case, we’ve got a 17 year track record, we’re a strong business, and we’ve honored users licenses to the electronic books through various format, media, and operating system changes for more than a dozen years. That’s a pretty good record.
Moreover, what we sell you is the license to the book, NOT the digital file. When we change formats (which we’ve done) you don’t have to re-acquire a license. When music went from vinyl records to cassettes to CD’s, you had to re-purchase the album each time. But we aren’t selling you “today’s format” — we’re selling an electronic license. With Logos, it’s as if you’re provided the song free on cassette, CD, and then digital download, all because of your original vinyl purchase.
Can you loan the book, and can your grandchildren have it [see the clarification below]? No. But not because of the electronic format. It’s because we offer a really good price in exchange for licensing to one user. We sell our electronic books (in collections) at a huge discount from list price.
The big question is, what is your goal? To have beautiful books on your shelf that you can pass as heirlooms to your descendents, or to get convenient, useful access to a large library of content with a powerful set of tools for searching and reports?
I can “acquire a movie” in several ways: $9 at the theater, $1.99 VHS rental later, $29.95 to own the DVD, or (maybe) hundreds of dollars to acquire a film print. Each format has strengths and weaknesses. The theater experience is the best way to see it, but when it’s over, it’s over. The rental lets me rewind and pause and watch it a few times, but it’s on a small screen and later in the release cycle. The DVD is also on my home screen, costs more, and might still go obsolete years down the road. The film is physically simple — shine light through the film to project — and actually the “safest” format to ensure my descendents can watch it, but it’s more expensive, more awkward, etc.
The biggest risk with our electronic books is that we go out of business and then, some years later, computers change in a way that doesn’t let you run our software. We intend, of course, to stay in business, and (to the best of our knowledge) we’re the largest and strongest player in Bible software. But still, A) virtualization technology will probably ensure the ability to run this generation of applications for a long time and B) we have a large enough customer base that even in a bankruptcy someone would probably acquire and retain our product line and/or customer relationships.
So is your investment in e-books a safe bet? I believe so. Plus, it’s easier on the back when it’s time to move your library.
Wed, July 16, 2008 | Products|
For ease of use, searchability, and fast distribution, there’s nothing better than pure data. So why is Logos Bible Software launching Bible Study Magazine as a paper product? To reach even more people with the excitement and encouragement of Bible study.
Paper isn’t dead. And while more and more people are discovering that it’s an awkward format for a ten volume Greek lexicon, it still remains a very attractive, portable, friendly, accessible, and bathroom-compatible format for browsing.
When I use electronic media, I’m on a mission to search and retrieve answers. And it’s great—I get answers quickly. But when I pick up a magazine, I find myself exposed to new information and new ideas. The layout and format draw me into stories I would never have searched for. I use my keyboard to look things up; magazines expand the world of things I want to know about.
The world of Bible study is bigger than looking up verses or doing a word study. Our goal with Bible Study Magazine is to expand your horizons. We want to introduce both the person in the pulpit and in the pew to topics, ideas, and tools for better Bible study.
For searching the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, there’s no better tool than Logos Bible Software. To introduce someone who’s never thought of them to the Fathers and explain how their writings can illuminate our Bible study and encourage us in our faith? That’s a job for Bible Study Magazine.
For the digerati among us who’ve given up on print and read everything from a screen, we’ll eventually have the magazine content available electronically for Logos Bible Software. In the meantime, though, we hope to use the power of print to reach a new and larger audience whose horizons we can expand and whose curiosity we can pique.
I know you are interested in Bible study, and I am confident you’ll find Bible Study Magazine well worth the subscription price. But I think an even better investment is to take a bundle subscription for your church or small group. We all know people who know they should spend more time in the Word, but who haven’t experienced the joy of digging deeper. Bible Study Magazine is designed to engage their interest, to make it easy to get started, and to expose them to the excitement of discovery in and around God’s Word.
We can make it as easy as picking up a magazine.