The new Logos 4 is an extraordinary departure from the Libronix Digital Library System’s Logos 3.x. It’s hard to know where to begin. Since I blog in my spare time, there’s no way I can do a thorough analysis. I’ll focus instead on the big questions that will be on the mind of most exegetical users: How does it work for exegetical studies, and do I want to upgrade?
By the way, if you would like a less focused overview of the by someone who ran it longer than I did, I would suggest this blog.
Bear in mind that one issue I’ll have with answering those questions is that I’ve really only had one week to really test the system. Though Logos HQ graciously allowed me into the private, super-secret, NDA-bearing beta testing group, I joined late, and the initial slowness and various operational issues of the early beta releases were too much when combined with the fact that I was also using the install in a virtualized PC environment running on my early-2008 Mac Book. For the first two weeks I had display driver issues that made it impossible to use. Some searching in the private beta forums helped me to resolve the issue, but that took time. And when I had solved that issue, running the software inside the virtual machine was still too inefficient to be useful to me in regular studies. A few automatic updates later, however, I finally had what was essentially the release candidate, and that ran just fine. It’s just that I really only had it for a week prior to the release date, so I am still learning on a system that didn’t even have help files until very recently.
That said, I will start by saying that the new software is quite cool. The interface has been completely reimagined. Is that a good thing? I’m going to have to give that one a yes overall, even though I have some reservations. More on my reservations later.
The menu system is quite nice. It has been changed to a kind of hybrid between traditional menu bars and the new MS Office ribbons. There are but three main tabs and three main menus on the main screen.
Very efficient use of space with a clear classification system for the different sets of commands, as you can see. Well done.
The three buttons on the right are:
- The Home button. The home page has been completely reimagined into a huge news feed full of Logos blog posts, pre-pub announcements and interesting tidbits from books in your own library.
- The Library button. This has been so extensively enhanced that you’re going to want a better look at it.
- The Search button. This calls up a search window that combines the capabilities of Basic, Bible, Morphological and Syntax searches all into a single pane that does not require a separate dialog box to use.
Most of everything else you’re used to finding in Logos 3 you’ll find in the three menu buttons just to the right of the Home, Library and Search button, which are labeled File, Guides and Tools. One major exception as far as my personal workflow is concerned is that there is no place under any of these for Workspaces. The functionality of Workspaces in Logos 3 has been replaced by a new approach to remembering desktop arrangements. The new system, called Layouts, is more tightly integrated into Logos’ regular automation.
The only problem with the Layouts menu was that it was so automatic that I didn’t know what to do with it at first! It’s hard for me to trust something when I don’t have to click anything or press any buttons to make it work. But from the very start, the Layouts button proved its worth over the old system. You can make “workspaces” just like you used to, but the system is also taking snapshots of your workspace over time, and you can return to previous layouts just by looking through these snapshots. Saving a workspace that you like is simply a matter of giving a name to one of the snapshots. So far, it’s worked like a charm.
Look in the lower left of the Layouts menu and you’ll see that there are also a number of default layouts that can be applied to the resources that are open. I think you’ll be pleased with the whole arrangement (no pun intended). What used to be an optional Power Tool, the Stacked Window Tabs, has become an integral part of desktop arrangements and has been significantly enhanced. Each pane on the screen can have multiple books stacked up within it with tabs along the top. When you grab a border between panes, you’re moving the border of all the books at once. It keeps things neat and simple. At any time, you can also grab a particular resource or pane and “float it.” That means that you are removing it from the arrangement and sticking it in a wholly independent window that behaves as a whole other program within Windows, allowing you to Alt+Tab to it, minimize it or move it to another monitor. Good thinking, Logos.