Today is an exciting day for those who love Logos Bible study software as Logos releases version four of its popular software.
A few months ago Logos invited a number of users to participate in a private beta. In this post I will evaluate my experience with Logos 4, note many of the new and enhanced features, and discuss a few of the drawbacks. This is a lengthy post but feel free to jump around using the guide below.
One of the biggest hurdles to using Logos 4 comes when you install the software. Once the software is installed and the resources are loaded Logos will index all of the resources in your library. Indexing is a step that will make searches perform much quicker than in Logos 3 but the initial indexing can take hours and hours. After you install the software, go watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Twice. Actually, many of the indexing delays took place early in the beta process and is now much faster though it will still take several hours to index a new installation. Indexing will also take place whenever resources are added or updated but it will be much quicker when only a few items have changed.
When you first open Logos 4 you are presented with a home page, seen above. This page has a few customization options to get you into your books or give you news and tips about Logos. You can also turn off the home page. At the very top of the interface is a command bar that offers quite a bit of power to jump around Logos resources and features or access some hidden tools. Below the command bar in the home page is a text box that can get the first time user going. Simply enter a passage or topic and Logos will go to work.
Users will quicklyÂ notice the new window management features of Logos 4. Early on this was one of the more difficult adjustments. Unlike Logos 3, the windows in Logos 4 do not float within the Logos window. They snap into place into several pre-defined areas:
I initially found this frustrating but quickly came to like the ease of lining up windows. Each window area also features tabs so if you drop multiple windows into one area they will be listed in a series of tabs such as with the Bibles open in the image above.
Windows can also be floated, undocking a window from the main Logos window. Any floated windows behave the same way as the main window. Floating windows give Logos 4 powerful support for multiple displays, something completely lacking in version 3.
One new feature is layouts. In Logos 3 users could save their work in a workspace. In Logos 4 this has been renamed layouts and has gained quite a bit of power. To the right of the Layout menu Logos automatically stores a snapshot of your current and past window layout. If you are working with a particular arrangement and want to be able to quickly return to it, give it a name and it will be added to the window on the left. Click on one of the Named Layouts and it will open your saved resources and window position, such as in my Greek layout below:
In Logos 4 library management has changed. The changes, particularly to collections, may be confusing at first but add very powerful features to help users find, manage, tag, rate, and group resources. The Find box is much more powerful than in Logos 3, allowing a variety of searching methods including searching particular book types, topics, tags, etc. Entering a search for â€œtype:commentary author:O’Brienâ€ returns two results in my library.
I am currently preaching through Ephesians so Iâ€™m in my Ephesians commentaries a lot. But I do not like all of the commentaries so a search for â€œtype:commentary subject:Ephesiansâ€ will give me more than I want. One option is to tag my favorites with Ephesians so I can search for â€œtype:commentary mytag:Ephesiansâ€ I can also rate commentaries and look for commentaries on Ephesians rated four or better: â€œtype:commentary subject:Ephesians rating:>=4â€ This is really more than I would ever want to do for my Ephesians commentaries, but you get the picture.
Where these features really come in handy is with resource collections. With Logos 4 collections have completely changed. Note the picture above. In the Find window I have a basic search. In Logos 3 you would take the results of a search and drag them into a collection. In Logos 4, the search results are your collection. The resources listed at the bottom of the window are the resources found by my search and are automatically included in my new collection. If your search gives you resources that you do not want included, just drag the resource into the section labeled â€œMinus these resourcesâ€. If your search does not give you resources that you want included, open the Library tool, find the resource, and drag it into the section labeled â€œPlus these resourcesâ€.
This method of creating collections results in dynamic collections. I have a collection where my only rule is author:â€John Piperâ€. Under Logos 3 if I bought new Piper books I would have to remember to go back and add them to my collection. With Logos 4 any new books that match your collection rules are automatically added to the collection.
One of the most exciting new features of Logos 4 is resource synchronization. It is not clear if this will work for all books in your library, but most if not all books can be automatically downloaded and updated. Have to reload your computer and not looking forward to hunting down all of your Logos resources? No fear, Logos 4 will automatically download them. Buy a new book? Donâ€™t bother downloading it and copying to a resource folder, Logos 4 will automatically retrieve it for you. And any time resources get updated the updates are automatically loaded to your computer, no need to run the update tool as in Logos 3.
Notes, Highlighting, and Data Sync
As with Logos 3, Logos 4 presents numerous flexible options to write notes and add highlighting, but Logos 4 takes things several steps farther. With Logos 4 notes can be written all over the place. Users can continue to create individual notes documents but notes can also be written within the various Bible study guides. When you pull up a Guide you are not just opening a list of tools and resources, you are opening any notes you have made within the guide.
The general Notes tool works about as expected, though it is a bit glitchy. It will need more attention from Logos as updates continue to be rolled out. Sometimes the cursor will jump to the beginning or end of a note mid-typing or the notes window will lose focus entirely. Writing notes can also be sluggish, at least under my setup (more on that later).
There is one more new feature that makes notes, highlights, and a host of features even more useful: synchronization. With Logos 4 user notes, highlights, layouts, settings, guides, collections, shortcuts, etc etc are all synchronized to the server. I rarely used notes and highlighting with Logos 3 after a few instances of losing them when forgetting to back them up during a reinstallation. With Logos 4 the work I do at my church office is synchronized and waiting for me when I get home.
Logos 4 includes the same guides as Logos 3 but with rich new features. The Passage Guide has numerous customization options, allowing you to save as many guides as you wish tailor-made for your study. I have one guide set up for my sermon work in Ephesians, another guide set up for general study. Passage guides can also include the same sections found in the Exegetical Guide. Want everything in one place? Make a guide:
Passage guides feature a new Handout tool which can help users create a handout to share with a class or church group. I have not used handouts much and reports are mixed. This is another area Logos will need to keep working on before it becomes fully useful.
The new Biblical People, Places, and Things tools enhance features already found in Logos 3 and give users great ways to visually explore biblical topics and relationships.
Improvements have also been made to the Exegetical Guide. I really like the layout of Greek and Hebrew. Also, when looking at the Word byWord breakdown, users can see the Greek wordâ€™s location within an English translation:
Visual enhancements to Word Study make word study just plain fun:
The Bibles themselves have had an overhaul in Logos 4. New features make it easier to use reverse interlinears and easier to compare versions. On the reverse inerlinears, Logos 4 has an in-line interlinear display for any version that has an associated reverse interlinear:
The word you click in the english text will highlight in the interlinear below. In the above screenshot we see that both the ESV and the NRSV have reverse interlinear data. Note also that when you highlight one word or phrase in one translation, the corresponding word or phrase in the other translation is also highlighted. This way you can quickly see translation differences in any tagged Bibles.
In Logos 3 users were able to place text side-by-side using the Compare Versions tool. In Logos 4 the tool is called Text Compare and it comes with more power to specify what changes you want to display and how you want to display them.
Logos 4 comes with an Information window essentially identical to the one in Logos 3. However, in my own use the information window for Logos 4 updates so slowly it is almost unusable.
In addition to the information window, Logos 4 also has a Cited By tool and a Power Lookup tool. The Cited By tool provides a simple way to search your library for a given passage and Power Lookup will display any text contained in footnotes or Bible references within the resource you are reading or within any text you have highlighted. If you are looking at the Treasury of Scripture Library the Power Lookup will display the full text of any passages you highlight.
Logos 4 also includes new tools for creating reading plans. The reading plan in Logos 4 is more powerful than in Logos 3. With Logos 4 users have the ability to create a reading plan for any book in their library. In the picture below I created a plan for reading John Piperâ€™s Finally Alive in two weeks:
Book reading plans work best when the book is tagged with page numbers. Older Logos books may not contain page number data.
Update: Logos has released a list of planned features including a timetable for release: What’s Missing from Logos 4
Unfortunately, Logos 4 is missing a lot of the extra tools found in Logos 3. Examples are:
- Verse lists
- Prayer request lists
- Sermon addin
- Personal book builder
- Printing is very limited. Users of the Mac engine of Logos will already be familiar with this limitation. A few of the tools within Logos 4 can print, but not all and not terribly well.
- Sentence Diagramming
Not exactly left out, but at present there is no way to import notes and highlighting from Logos 3 to Logos 4.
Logos has discussed its intention to add each of these features, and more, in future releases. It is the goal of Logos Bible Software to release a good, solid Bible study program even if it lacks some of the features found in version 3. With the automatic update mechanism in Logos 4, Logos will be able to roll out these new features without the user having to do anything. As Logos expressed in the beta discussion forum, the user will open the program one day to find new features ready to go.
Some of the delay releasing these tools is the work required to bring them up to standard for Logos 4. Many of the tools are old and have been patched together through the years and will take a bit of work to recreate for version 4. Once the work is complete I think users will find it was worth the wait.
Also missing are the Remote Library tool and the Graphical Query. Logos has said they do not intend to reproduce these in version 4 since other, better alternatives are available.
For some users, the features missing in Logos 4 will be deal breakers. Those users will be glad to know that Versions 3 and 4 can run side-by-side. They will not share any data or resources (Logos 4 makes its own copy of resources when installed) but they do not conflict with each other. Use Logos 4 for your regular work and load up Logos 3 for those missing features until they are available in version 4.
For now the best option for Mac users remains as it has been: run Logos from within a virtual machine. Almost all of my time with Logos 4 has been done within VMWare Fusion. Mac users may need to tweak a few performance settings or the experience will be sluggish and unenjoyable. In VMWare Fusion go to the virtual machine settings and disable 3d acceleration, then within your Windows OS open display settings, click advanced, go to the Troubleshoot tab and click Change Settings. Drop the Hardware Acceleration slider way down. This should improve performance quite a bit.
If you have multiple displays, VMWareâ€™s multiple display setting will let you use both displays for your virtual machine and will let you take advantage of Logos 4â€™s ability to use multiple displays. Unity view may be an even better option for some as the floated windows in unity view can be dragged around any monitor.
Logos is also working on a Mac version equivalent to Logos 4 for the PC. Users of the current Logos Mac engine will know it lags far behind the windows version. At present the Mac version of Logos 4 is also missing a host of features and is very early in development (Alpha 1 at time of writing). Logos plans to open it up as a public beta so Mac users will be able to play with it as development continues. Logos has not released a timeframe for the Mac version but considering its current state, it will take a little while. Still, it will be nice to see the Mac version grow as features are added. I am encouraged that it seems Logos does plan to bring the Mac version fully up to par with the Windows version and though a lot of work remains, we should see it in the not-to-distant future.
The iPhone App, which also works on the iPod Touch, requires an internet connection as none of the content is stored locally. Logos has mentioned that there are plans to enable offline use in the future but at present technical and licensing issues prevent offline use. Even with this limitation, it is amazing what all the iPhone app can do.
Passage guide, word study, reading plans, bookmark sync, library search, text compare, and more. The iPhone app puts quite a bit of power into your iPhone or iPod touch. Perhaps best of all, the application is free. The iPhone app works best if users are also using Logos 4 and the synchronization features will only be useful alongside the desktop version of 4.
At the time this review was written Logos has not yet released version 4 and has not announced pricing. It is assumed that Logos will release the Logos 4 engine for free for current users and it will, as normal, be bundled with packages for new users. The libraries being released with version 4 are being expanded to include new content and existing users will be able to pay a small cross-grade fee to buy the resources matching their current library. The new collection for Scholars Library Gold is said to contain some 200 new resources and current Scholars Library Gold users will be able to purchase those resources at a greatly reduced price.
A number of the features in Logos 4 took a bit of getting used to and the beta discussion forums were filled with frustrated comments as users tried to figure out this or that new feature. In the end, most users seem either satisfied or thrilled with the direction Logos has moved with this version of the software. I have really enjoyed the enhancements and new features of Logos 4 and have found several ways that they make my Bible study process both more thorough and more simple. I have kept Logos 3 installed and updated but have only returned to it when comparing old features with new features.