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Logos 7: Review, Screenshots, Video

August 22, 2016
Image via Logos

Image via Logos

 

Bible software nerds, rejoice! Today Logos 7 comes into the world.

I’ve been using Logos (alongside Accordance and BibleWorks) since Logos 4. There hasn’t been a major interface overhaul since that version, but Logos has been steadily adding loads of features since then.

From a few weeks of beta testing, I offer here my initial impressions of Logos 7, as well as a look at its features in action.

Here’s the best of what’s new in Logos 7.

 

1. Interactives (Again)

 

The Interactives were my favorite feature in Logos 6. The addition of more Interactives makes it the part I most like about Logos 7.

Here is a screenshot of all the Interactives, which you can pull up from your library with the search: “type:interactive”.

 

Logos 7 Interactives

Logos 7 Interactives

 

Some of those were in Logos 6, like the Bible Outline Browser, which shows you all the Bible text outlines you have in your library for the passage you’re considering.

 

 

The Hebrew Cantillations Interactive in Logos 7 has seen improvement since its release in Logos 6 (it wasn’t ready for prime time initially):

 

 

Logos 7 adds the Septuagint Manuscript Explorer, which students of the Göttingen editions will especially appreciate:

We’ve cataloged information about Septuagint manuscripts, including contents, date, language, holding institute, and more. With this interactive, discover the earliest Septuagint manuscripts see how many contain the book of Psalms, and even view scanned images of many fragments, like Codex Sinaiticus.

 

 

My most used Interactive at the moment is the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. I would have made great use of it when I took a seminary course by that name. There are lots of ways to get access to what OT passages the NT is using (commentaries, Bible text footnotes, words searches), but this Interactive consolidates and sorts the data in a highly convenient way.

You can sort by allusion, quotation, echo, and citation. I always thought allusion and echo were more or less the same—though the use of terminology is itself at issue in the field! At any rate, the authors of the Interactive define their terms:

• Citation: An explicit reference to scripture with a citation formula (e.g. “It is written,” or “the Lord says,” or “the prophet says”).

• Quotation: A direct reference to scripture, largely matching the verbatim wording of the source but without a quotation formula

• Allusion: An indirect but intentional reference to scripture, likely intended to invoke memory of the scripture.

• Echo: A verbal parallel evokes or recalls a scripture (or series of scriptures) to the reader, but likely without authorial intention to reproduce exact words.

This Interactive probably deserves its own post. You can change what versions it displays, and even set it so that the English NT and OT passages are displaying alongside Greek (NT) and Greek and Hebrew (OT). (Getting this part set up was not really intuitive to me.) You can even hover over Greek and it cross-highlights the corresponding English, and vice versa:

 

 

If software programs had Pulitzers, the NT Use of the OT should win one for best feature. Here’s what it looks like, including the sidebar, which allows you to focus your study using a ton of criteria. You could easily find, for example, all the times Matthew cites or alludes to an OT passage with Jesus in mind.

 

 

2. Sermon Editor

 

I have worked hard to get a sermon writing workflow I really like. (Detailed article at CTPastors.com forthcoming!) So I doubt I will use the new Sermon Editor much, but it looks pretty awesome, if you want to use Logos for sermon writing. In the image below, the Sermon Starter Guide (introduced in Logos 5) is next to the Sermon Editor.

 

 

Not only does the Sermon Editor offer rich text writing and multiple Export options, if you mark your Headers, it automatically generates a Powerpoint slide show for your text. It’s also got a Handout option, which allows you to easily generate a one-pager to accompany your sermon, as well as to automatically set up a handout with blanks to fill in.

AND… if you type in a Scripture reference, the Sermon Editor automatically creates a slide with the text of that Scripture, even fitting text to multiple slides if necessary. Watch:

 

 

You can also save a step and have the slides auto-generate with just a keyboard shortcut, after typing in the reference. Amazing.

 

3. QuickStart Layouts

 

This is not a ground-breaking feature, per se, but it is a time-saving addition. Now the Layouts option in the Logos toolbar offers access to “QuickStart” saved layouts that get a user up and running for various tasks.

 

 

The Greek Word Study layout, for example, is nicely executed:

 

 

4. Systematic Theologies in the Passage Guide

 

The Passage Guide has been around a while, but Logos keeps adding to it. Logos 7 features a Systematic Theologies guide, an admittedly subjective but still helpful aggregator of theology resources in your library, keyed to the verse you’re studying. You can sort it by theology subject (Christology, pneumatology, etc.) or by denomination.

 

 

5. Everything Is (Still) Hyperlinked

 

The hyperlinking seems to have improved since I was last using Logos regularly when Logos 6 launched. (Only now with a recent laptop upgrade does Logos run well on my Mac.) Of course the Scripture verses are hyperlinked, but commentaries are also hyperlinked to previous sections they mention. As here:

 

 

Improvements That Weren’t

 

Logos 7 is cutting-edge software, impressive in its innovation and a huge time saver from a task standpoint. The designers and developers clearly created it with real users in mind.

However, even on a new and higher-end Mac, Logos 7 is system resource intensive. It’s a CPU hog, a battery drain, and uses significant energy.

I can always tell if I have Logos open on my laptop because the computer is almost always warm when it is—and almost never warm with any other combination of apps open.

 

 

 

 

This has been my (and others’) enduring criticism of Logos since at least Logos 4, and I continue to fail to understand why program sluggishness is not Code Red at Faithlife HQ. My slightly educated opinion is that Faithlife (makers of Logos) is “going for more” instead of “sticking to the core” (to quote a Harvard Business Review article). Lots of spin-off apps and ideas and focus on marketing and shipping frequent feature updates have hindered development of the core product—at least where speed is concerned. Wanting to get at the info in the Passage Guide, for instance, can be an exercise in patience (and frustration):

 

 

Logos 7 is far more responsive and fast in searching on my newer Mac machine than it was on my previous MacBook (a 2008!). Though, for that matter, both Accordance and BibleWorks ran fast on the 2008—one shouldn’t have to buy a new machine to use Logos well, though I don’t think that stops some users from doing it, especially when they feel they’ve invested a lot of money in building their library.

 

In Conclusion

 

Speed and massive CPU usage and battery drainage are the Achilles’ Heel of Logos Bible software. I hope—for their sake and for the sake of their user base—that they shift their development focus back to whatever they need to do with the code to ensure a speedier user experience. The developers I’ve interacted with on the forums seem great—it appears to be an issue of larger company focus and resources.

It’s often not slow. (Though it’s always a CPU and battery drain.) For the couple of hours that I use Logos for sermon prep, I can search and open and highlight individual resources with ease. The feature set and Interactives are innovative and cut out unneeded research steps for users. The app itself is powerful, and does a good job of getting users into even larger libraries to cull the most relevant information for tasks at hand. Their accompanying iOS app is really good, too. Users should just be ready–even with the new Logos 7–to check email while they wait for a Passage Guide or Sermon Starter Guide to return results.

If you’re a happy Logos 6 or 5 user, should you upgrade? Definitely. The so-called data sets and features in Logos 7 are a significant step up. If you are on Windows or if your Mac is handling Logos fine and you want to keep using it, Logos 7 is a creative step in a good direction.

Never used Logos and trying to decide if you should get it? (Especially with other Bible software options available?) Then ask away in the comments below, and I’ll respond there.

Logos 7 launches with a 15% off discount. If you go to Words on the Word’s landing page, you get the discount, and the blog gets a small commission if it’s a first-time purchase. The landing page also includes links to more information about Logos 7.

 


 

Thanks to Logos for the chance to beta test and review. I received early access to Logos 7 as well as a package of library resources to test, for the purposes of this review. That did not, however, influence my objectivity…as I expect is clear.🙂

6 Comments leave one →
  1. hayesy permalink
    August 22, 2016 6:53 pm

    Really helpful review, thanks!

    As much as I do love Logos, I’m 100% with you on the sluggishness thing. At my Bible College, this is probably the number 1 reason people choose other software over Logos. It really is an obstacle that I feel every time I use the software. It’s like being back in the early 2000s, before software companies realised that a usable software was more about… usability… than features.

    I think Logos loves to be able to list the new features. Maybe they should start to think like Apple, whose product launches really celebrate things like 2X Faster. If Logos’ next feature list included: 50% less RAM use, 2X faster, that would really get people excited.

  2. Pr. Daniel Escalante permalink
    August 30, 2016 1:36 pm

    Hello, I am or will be a new user. I have a couple of questions I was hoping you could answer for me. I am a new seminary student, studying to be a pastor and the University is working on a deal to bring their seminary students a Logos package. Not sure which one yet, so I have just been exploring. Here are my questions: one, I am running a 12″ Macbook with base specs, does this mean that I will be experiencing even more so the “sluggishness” of this program? Two, if I purchase simply the starter bundle, would I then be able to purchase the rest of the items over time by paying for them individually? Lastly, are the packages backwards compatible? For example, will I have access to all previous resources by buying the Platinum Package? Thank you for your time and for a very informative review.

    • August 31, 2016 8:59 pm

      Hi, Daniel, and thanks for the comment. I’ve heard mixed reviews about the 12″ Macbook in general, but as long as you find it is a fast-functioning machine (8GB RAM?) it should handle Logos fine, although I suspect your experience will be the same as mine–sometimes fast and smooth, other times sluggish. Almost always a CPU and battery hog, regardless. To your second question, yes, you can search or browse the Logos store to see how many individual products (or collections of books in a series, for example) are available. Not everything has to be a base package, especially once you already have Logos 7 installed. To your last question, if I understand what you’re asking, yes, you can read older resources on the new app.

  3. September 5, 2016 11:10 pm

    Love your review. Though it almost scares me to upgrade to Logos 7. Been using Logos since 1998 and performance has always been an issue. (I use other Bible software too.) It’s hard for them to claim ‘look how much time you save’ when you’re just watching the searches spin. Talked to several coders at Faithlife and the motto is if you have a large library what do you expect but slower searches. They are not addressing the core problem at all. I shouldn’t need a super computer to run an already expensive software investment. Just don’t know if I can justify the expense. It’s bad that I get more response searches on my iPad than on a MacBook or video production grade desktop pc.

    • September 6, 2016 11:50 am

      Agreed, and sorry to hear of the frustration! I think a release that focuses *soley* on speed and other performance improvements is overdue.

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