Bibletime 1.0: Praise the Lord
By Andreas "Dre"
Last weekend I set aside some time to review
Bibletime, which has just
reached its first stable release after a long period of development.
Bibletime is a Bible study program based on
Sword is a library which provides functions for searching the Bible,
bookmarking, viewing Bible text, commentary and lexicon modules and
writing personal comments, but lacks a GUI (which Bibletime provides).
I should note at the outset that I have never used a Bible-study program
before. Nevertheless, after using the program for just a short time I
appreciated what a great and useful program it is for those who read
or study the Judaeo-Christian scriptures.
My first attempt to use Bibletime was less than optimal. I made it a
point not to read very much in terms of installation instructions and
thus had improperly installed Sword, the required backend engine.
This threw Bibletime into a series of errors and wrong diagnoses.
Fortunately the Bibletime developers replied promptly to my questions
and quite nicely explained to me how to install Sword properly. They
also noted that configuring Sword and its modules was something planned
for the next major release (1.1).
On the second time around, with a properly-configured Sword, Bibletime
launched with a nice splash screen, followed
by an overview of the program from the online
help. After dismissing this, a configuration
dialog appeared which permitted configuring Bibletime for the first
time. Options included General,
Module Fonts and
Colors. After the initial configuration,
Bibletime greets you at startup with a tip of the
day, which can optionally be disabled.
Bibletime offers a well-managed MDI interface. Document
views can be automatically arranged (cascaded, tiled, maximized and
minimized) or individually resized. These work quite well but the individual
windows have a tendency to jump around and resize themselves when changing
their arrangement or adding/deleting windows.
As I mentioned briefly, Sword comes with several modules, such as Lexicons,
Commentaries and Bibles.
The Lexicons have an easy-to-use search
box for looking up biblical references. The Commentaries use
cross-linking for easy navigation to
biblical references. Different Bibles can be aligned next to each other for
easy comparison of specific verses, with either a
tied comparison or a
Bibletime also features an easy bookmark system. For example, you can drag
a verse number from the display window into the main index to create a
bookmark. Bibletime provides you an opportunity to
comment on the bookmark.
When the mouse hovers over a bookmark, the text of the verse is
displayed in a tooltip. Dropping a bookmark
on a display windows brings that and the surrounding verses into the
display window. Bookmarks can be managed in (possibly nested) folders,
and can be imported (from other Bibletime
bookmark files) and exported. However, these options are available
only in a popup menu in the main index and not in the main menu (where I
stubbornly looked for it).
The only browsing feature I missed in this well thought-out interface was the
ability to "go back" after clicking a link (in fact because the authors
chose to use a QTextBrowser and QTextEdit instead of KHTML as their
HTML viewer you do not get any of the features of KHTML).
Bibletime does a superior job at helping users navigate the program.
It includes a What's This help system as
well as the standard KDE-formatted online help. This help includes
some resources about Bible-study as well as the Bibletime Handbook.
Bibletime has the framework in place for full and customized
printing support. Printers and major print options can be
selected and the print layout can be
configured, including a
print style editor which permits you to
create a number of different printing styles.
To print, you first have to select the text to print by right-clicking
in a display window and sending the material to print (for example,
a chapter when viewing a Bible) to Bibletime's print spooler.
This enables the Print item in the File
menu (as well as the Print toolbar icon) and places the
print job into Bibletime's print spooler.
To actually get output you have to navigate to the spooler and select
to print the job.
Unfortunately printing did not work for me, I simply ended up with
a few lines of what looked like PostScript stair-stepped across the
top of the page.
One of the neat features of Bibletime is its powerful search capabilities,
though the search dialog is currently somewhat cumbersome. It contains
four tabs, the first for choosing modules
the second for specifying the search text,
the third for displaying results, and the
fourth for displaying search statistics.
The Search Text is especially powerful, permitting phrase
searches, regular expression searches and "OR" searches; it also provides
progress dialogs as visual feedback. If a match is found, the
Search Results tab is automatically selected; if not the
Search Text tab remains active (which can be a bit confusing
the first time).
Search results can be dragged to the main index and bookmarked just as in
the case of verses in the display window.
Bibletime is already a true godsend for religious
KDE users. It is easily useable though it may take a bit of time to
learn some quirks. I think the next release will make it even better,
particularly by providing a GUI for the difficult Sword
installation/configuration. Besides this, my
personal wishlist item is to use KHTML for its advanced
Copyright © 2001 Andreas "Dre" Pour. All rights reserved.