Miscellaneous Ramblings

Miscellaneous Ramblings Review

MacSword 1.2: A Solid Free Bible Program Made Even Better

Charles Moore - 2005.12.05 - Tip Jar

Back in Classic Mac days, I used to use a little freeware Biblesoftware application called Bible Browser. It didn't have a lot ofbells and whistles, but it was fast and had a decent search engine- and it was free.

These days I'm still using freeware Bible applications,alternating between Bible ReaderFree and MacSword, thesubject of this review.

MacSword is a free, open source application facilitatingresearch and study of the Holy Scriptures as well as resource,commentary, lexicon, devotional, and book materials, developedspecifically for Macs running Mac OS X. It is essentially aMac front end to the cross-platform open source Sword Project.

MacSword allows you to read and browse many different Biblestranslations in different languages from Hebrew to Albanian. Aswell as reading devotionals, commentaries, dictionaries, andlexicons, it also supports searching and advanced features such asServices so that you can access the Bible in any Services-savvyprogram.

As noted, MacSword uses modules from the Sword project. This isan open source project whose purpose is to "to create an everexpanding software package for research and study of God and HisWord". This provides the backend functionality to handle the Bibletexts and provide features such as searching.

The open source model is the basis of development, maximizingthe rapid growth and features of this project by leveraging thecontributions of many developers. Components of the project includeall types of Biblical texts and helps, a portable,platform-agnostic engine to access them, and a variety of frontends to bring this to as many users as possible. The Sword Projectis licensed under the GNU General Public License, an open sourcelicense approved by the Open Source Initiative.

Sword module Add-ins allow you to expand the functionality andyour library of resources for your Sword-based software, includingsome two dozen different English language Bible or New Testamenttranslations, which is one of the big advantages of MacSword. Theprogram downloads with a King James Version module. One caveat isthat most of the recent translations are not in the public domain,so while the modules exist, they are not available for publicdownload.

Parallel columnsModules I usein my copy of MacSword are the King James Version (1611), AmericanStandard Version (1901), Revised Standard Version (1952 edition - Idetest the politically corrected '90s NRSV), World English Bible(1997), and the International Standard Version.

A very cool new feature in MacSword version 1.2 is that you cannow display two or more version texts side-by-side in parallelcolumns, which makes comparing translation nuances very easy andconvenient.

To display another translation (or commentary) in parallel, justclick the + icon beside the popup menu displaying the currentlyactive module. Another module popup menu will appear, allowing youselect whatever module you want to display. To remove a module,click "Remove" from the menu containing that module's name.

A floater window allows you to select among modules stored inthe program's Modules folder.

The program includes the ability to display Bible textcontiguously with inline verse references or with each versedisplayed individually.

inline verse numbers  individual verses

You can also display Scripture with footnotes interpolated, andthere is also an option to highlight the words of Jesus in red.

 

drawerA Cocoa drawer,toggled from the toolbar, is user-customizable.

The "Find" function, which had been a weak point in earlyversions of MacSword - being relatively slow and without anyconfiguration options (i.e.: limiting searches to just one book ortestament) - has been much improved in recent releases withsearches refinable using several pulldown menus containing searchparameter selections.

searchingVersion 1.2adds indexed searching, which improves search speed even more.Searches are now satisfyingly quick, even on my old 700 MHz iBook.

One deficiency I found is that while search results are drag& droppable, they don't copy to the Clipboard for pasting. Abit strange.

Boolean operators are supported, as are standard wildcardsymbols, such as the asterisk (*) for multiple characters and thequestion mark (?) for single characters.

MacSword Rules for Search Requests

MacSword now also allows you to create your own commentary/usernotes modules. Select New Module from the File menu and save a newcommentary file to a location on your computer's hard drive,preferably the Modules folder in the MacSword folder.

System requirements:

There are over 200 modules in 50 languages that are allavailable from the Crosswire Bible Society. Including Bibles,commentaries, lexicons, dictionaries, and devotionals.

MacSword is an excellent and versatile little Bible softwareprogram, and if you don't need the advanced features of anapplication like Oaktree Software's Accordance, it should do thejob nicely for you.

MacSword is freeware. LEM

Appendix

Bible text modules that are available for download include:

Downloadable Bible Commentaries include:

SWORD Module Add-ins also include:

Go to the Miscellaneous Ramblings Review index.

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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