Review of BibleWorks 9: <br/>User Experience on a Mac

Back in ’05 [1], my laptop had 18 gigs of space, and because it didn't have enough juice to run the program, I had to install BW6 on an external hard drive (and I duct-taped the hard-drive to the back of the screen, like a boss). So, when I switched to a Macbook in ’08, the scales came off of my eyes and I didn’t have to schedule my lunch hour in order to turn on my computer. One of the biggest drawbacks, though, was leaving BW6 behind.

Really the only solution then was to run a “parallel” program on a dedicated disk and then install BibleWorks on a separately installed (and separately purchased!) copy of windows (in my case WindowsXP). This was a workable work-around, but it was an atrocious user experience. I’m sure many people were fine with this, but I couldn’t stand it. It was like taking a brand new Mustang out for a spin but first hitching a Winnebago to the back and then finding an old abandoned gravel path so you can practice parallel parking.

Because I was using a “bootcamp” like parallels program, I had to restart the computer to make the switch each time, and the program itself was glitchy as well. So, I found it dreadfully cumbersome to get into the program, and so I ended up using my old laptop just for BW6 (which also meant my use of the program was not integrated into my workflow well at all).

This is the historical background information that explains my reticence about Bible software that claims it can provide the same user experience across platforms (i.e., PC → Mac or Mac → PC). This is one of the primary reasons I began looking at alternative program options to BibleWorks (primarily Accordance or Logos). Even when the BibleWorks team started talking about Mac options (a few versions ago), I remained skeptical. I didn’t want to have to have so many workarounds if I didn’t have to.

All this to say that I’m pleasantly surprised by the Mac option for BW9. The “mac installer” was easy to install, and it runs directly from my Mac operating system. It’s not perfect: It’s clearly not native Mac software, and this creates some quirky features (e.g., x-ing out of the program actually closes the program, “right click” doesn’t work the same way, etc). However, for as long as I’ve been using it, my computer hasn’t frozen up, the program hasn’t shut down, and it functions in the same way that it does on my PC.

Though it’s not a native application, it does have the same features and feel of the full program. Sometimes the “mac version” of given software feels like a stripped down version of the real deal. However, the program feels and functions virtually identical. As they mention, "The interface is the same as the Windows version of BibleWorks so in a classroom setting with Windows and Mac users students and instructors will all have the same program interface." At this point, their developers say that the Mac option for BW9 has roughly 98% of the features/functionality of the Windows version [2].

For sure, the ability to run the full program on my Mac without the hijinks of cross-platform issues is one of the primary reasons I’m sticking with BibleWorks and now recommend it across the board. I hope they continue to develop and provide support for the Mac version of the program. Being able to utilize BW9 from my Macbook means that I will use the software more frequently and can now recommend the software with fewer reservations.

  1. I realize that I'm starting to sound like Uncle Rico
  2. See their "BibleWorks on a Mac" page, where they lay out the specific details. The option I prefer is the "native" option. As I mentioned, I'm sure the "virtual" or "bootcamp" options are better than they were "back in '05," but I would never wish that user-experience on anyone! The details for ordering the "Mac Installer" are also available (for BW9 users, it's $6 for the unlock code). 
June 19, 2015


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