Logos 4 Early Review: The Wow Factor

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Rob Suggs | Forum Activity | Posted: Thu, Nov 5 2009 2:10 PM

I've had my head buried beneath a mountain of work since September. Enjoyable daily tasks such as checking favorite web pages (including logos.com) have been neglected. Therefore I was surprised to emerge briefly yesterday and hear that Logos 4 was available. Upon discovering I would indeed have to pay for the upgrade, it took me about five minutes to decide to give myself an early Christmas present. Even though I was perfectly happy with Logos 3.0, the lure of new software is generally a seduction for which I have no defenses. Also, the iPhone app angle was a deal-maker for me in itself; of that, more later. Most important, I knew that on every single occasion, Logos has proven itself a vendor that gives me more than I pay for. This turned out to be another such occasion--in an almost exponential sense.

Thomas Nelson's CEO Michael Hyatt talks about the Wow Factor that Nelson looks for in new book projects. When you saw a smartphone with touch control for the first time, an involuntary WOW came from you. That's my reaction to Logos 4, early on. I have not mastered it yet, but I press on toward the goal. I have a slight case of that software disorientation we get in a large new program, sort of like going back to your hometown and finding out all the street names have changed and familiar buildings have been leveled and replaced. But even as you pull out your maps in that situation, you can see they've really upgraded the whole areas. So it is with L4.

The first thing you notice is the Home Page, and it's like they've gutted an old functional entryway and made it into a Ritz-Carlton lobby. Logos has plenty of users who are very pragmatic, left-brain people who are going to say, "I don't want all these waterfalls and Starbucks kiosks! Where's my cozy little office?" Hey, we'll get there. But you need to know, they're doing some major renovation on that office. it's called INDEXING, it's a one-time job and the workers will be out of your way soon enough; but you need to walk around and browse for an hour or two. So let's look at this lobby, this Home Page.

You recognize one of your devotionals, as if it's a magazine sidebar. Hey, that's nice. But what's this article? It's from a book I don't own. No it's not, my friend. You own it now, because as usual, Logos has thrown in some new resources. At least they have in the Bible Study package, which I use (an example of giving me more than I paid for). And what's this cool picture, supposedly from a book I didn't own (but now seem to)? There's a nice little article about one of Paul's doctrines, another excerpt from one of the reference books I own. There are Logos blog entries and Morris Proctor study tips salted in, and it all stretches over four browse-able pages, like a nice magazine brought to my desktop; particularly pleasing on a wide-screen computer. I'm tempted to click on several of these headlines to read the entire article, and I briefly get that "lost" feeling when the Home Page disappears. But Scotty beams me up again every time I click the Home Page logo up top.

The top of the page allows me to quickly glance at such things as Bible reading plans and preferred Bibles. The latter is very handy, because I'm using the NKJV when I write for Nelson, the NIV for Zondervan, and the NLT for Tyndale. I can change the translation orientation of the program with a click without hunting for the place to do so.

Now it looks as if the workmen have finished, and Search is ready for a test run. I tyoe in the word heavenlies, because I've been writing about that Ephesians-based concept. I quickly I see that Logos suggests variations: heavenward, heavenliness, heavenquake (Note to self: find out what a heavenquake is.). Deciding on the acid test, I select "entire library" for the search realm, and in six tenths of a second, 65,000 references are found. Well, we're accustomed to that from the Web, aren't we? I can choose from "ranked" or "by book," and that's helpful. But still, with such a broad search and a large library, I'll never get through all these refs; it's a broad search, of course. I tinker a bit and discover that when I click on the arrow connected to the search icon, I can use "match case." Now I have a mere 134 results. This is good; I need a refresher course in searches, especially on L4.

One feature that would be helpful here (because there are indeed times when I want to search the whole library) would be if I could collapse all the books with one click, and thus make the results more manageable. If I can do that, I haven't found how. As it is, I see ten references for the first book in my collection. It would require lots and lots of scrolling to go through the whole list. Still, the big news is the speed of the search. Even short-attention-spans of today can handle point-six seconds. And of course, I'll need to use collections and smaller ranges (and smarter search terms) to get more manageable results. 

The program's interface is extremely clean and offers up much more space for work. The old-style Windows menus  (File; Edit; View...)  are gone, and the Google Chrome styling seems to be one model for what we now have. The Library dropdown works well, and allows me to use tagging. Nice, and something I'll have to explore. I can also click on the title bar and choose from any number of other attributes (type, series, date) to view my library. Helpful. 

About the iPhone app. That in itself was exciting for me, but when i discovered a few standard titles would also be ported to my phone, that was gravy; when I discovered that a Logos 4 upgrade would allow me to use far more of my purchased titles, well, that was beyond gravy, that was an unlimited meal pass. I commonly read from my iPhone at night using the Kindle and eReader apps, but now my entire Logos library (or most of it) can go to bed with me. Can I "do Logos" on an iPhone? Not really; that's like trying to have a business meeting in a phone booth. But by the same token, can I read a book on my computer desktop? Sort of, but I'm unlikely to do it. The iPhone is a better solution for that, so the new app is a perfect complement to desktop Logos. And I'm more likely to purchase titles that I believe I can read on a subway or in bed. 

As always, Logos is all about making us fall in love the with the Scriptures all over again. The Holy Spirit, of course, who provides the real love potion for that. But if he has used printed ink on paper to bathe our minds for these many centuries, how much more can he now use the tools of high-tech? I'm an advocate of the Home Page because it pulls me into everything, allows my neglected books to drop in on me and say hi, and creates a kind of mosaic of the thousands of wonderful things about studying the Bible. I wouldn't mind seeing the site forums as an option, so that we can enjoy community in the Logos experience. Just as when I walk into the cathedral-like lobby of the Ritz, I feel the wow, in L4 I want to stay with the Word a while, even beyond structured study, and drink it all in just for the joy of it. Good job, Logos.

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Todd Phillips | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Nov 5 2009 2:23 PM

Good review.

Rob Suggs:
One feature that would be helpful here (because there are indeed times when I want to search the whole library) would be if I could collapse all the books with one click, and thus make the results more manageable. If I can do that, I haven't found how.

We beta testers asked for that, but it hasn't happened yet obviously.  I'm hoping the search results will be tweaked for 4.1

Wiki Links: Enabling Logging / Detailed Search Help - MacBook Pro (2014), ThinkPad E570

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TCBlack | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Nov 5 2009 2:51 PM

Todd,  I do think I recall a positive response (to the future) to that request.

Otherwise, yes that was a great review Rob.

Hmm Sarcasm is my love language. Obviously I love you. 

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Damian McGrath | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Nov 5 2009 9:36 PM

The only response that I remember to the request for collapsible search results was Bradley's response to my mega wish list in which he said "not in 4.0"

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