Jan 7, 2011 David Lang

Which is the "Best" Bible Software?

When you see a car commercial on television, does the commercial ever claim that the car is the "best"? As a description, "best" is rather bland, and frankly, it's too general to be meaningful. Instead, car companies distinguish their vehicles as the "fastest," "safest," "greenest," "most fuel-efficient," "longest-lasting," or "most luxurious." Think of any other product category, and you'll see the same thing happening. In almost every case, there are too many variables to consider when determining which product is "best." The question is always, "Best in what way?"

When it comes to Bible software, however, it seems that the question prospective buyers ask is, "Which is best?" And the answer every Bible software developer is tempted to give is, "We're the best." No qualifications or clear distinctions are given; just grandiose claims like "best Bible software in the universe" or something to that effect.

Why aren't Bible software developers (or their users) more judicious in their claims? My theory is that Bible software developers are creating a platform rather than merely a program.

What is the difference? Programs are designed to meet specific purposes or applications, which is probably why they're called applications. Competition among applications of the same class can certainly be fierce, but the developer of a word processor is hardly bothered when some—or even all—of their customers purchase spreadsheet software. A platform, on the other hand, is a hardware or software choice on which other choices depend. For example, your choice of computer or smartphone will largely determine which software choices you make. Choosing a platform involves a level of commitment which is greater than that involved in choosing a program. If you choose the wrong word processor you may regret the purchase and have to pay again to buy a better one, but if you choose the wrong computer platform, you may find lots of reasons to regret that choice. What's more, the hassle and expense involved in switching platforms may force you to live with your unfortunate platform choice for quite some time.

Because resources purchased for one Bible program cannot be used with any other program, Bible software functions as a platform for future software purchases. Software programs which compete on features alone (like word processors) may be able to leapfrog each other and attract users who need a particular feature, but Bible software programs must compete on the relative merits of their platform: the features of the software itself, the resources available for it, the reputation of the company that develops it, etc.

Some users get around this problem by using more than one Bible software program. For example, you might choose Program A because you want a commentary only available for that platform, and Program B for another commentary only available for it. This is analogous to someone using a Windows machine to run some Windows-only software and a Mac to run Mac-only software. Yet this is only a partial solution. First, not everyone can afford to buy into two different Bible software platforms, just as not many of us can afford to buy into two different computer platforms. Second, the choice to use two different platforms requires an investment of time to learn both platforms. Third, when you use two different platforms to accomplish a single task (namely, studying the Bible), you may want to exchange information between the two platforms in some way, and that again, may involve additional hassle.

Since using more than one platform is not without its drawbacks, most people try to choose the one that is the "best." That of course leads us back to the challenge of determining which is best. Every platform has its strengths and weaknesses, so every one may be "best" in some respects while less than best in others. The challenge of choosing the "best" platform is therefore in determining which factors are most important to you and deciding which platform offers the right balance of those factors.

Here at Accordance, we have always tended to focus on the features of the software itself rather than on all the other advantages of the Accordance platform, but I'll discuss those various advantages in several upcoming posts. I'll probably also wax philosophical about how this platform aspect of Bible software affects you as users. I'm hopeful, of course, that most of you reading this blog are already sold on Accordance as a platform, but hopefully you'll still find the discussion interesting. :-)

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Archived Comments

Jay Davis

January 08, 2011 10:24 AM

I am a pastor/teacher thus I look for the following in Bible software (and apps):



Commentaries that are pastoral rather than detailed into the Greek & Hebrew - They have scholarship but are not bogged down in the details 

Illustrations/Quotations Books - Stories etc

Sometimes Pictures for Powerpoint Use

A few Bible Versions NIV, TNIV, NIV+, Message, NLTse


Helen Brown

January 08, 2011 12:23 PM

Accordance certainly offers all the things you are looking for. Do call or email the sales office for help in selecting the right package.

Helen Brown

January 08, 2011 12:28 PM

Our Facebook page gets comments on this blog post, so i am posting the three for this post here:

Norman Danner
I can't really chose the "best" at the moment. Accordance is the number one for mac, but from the standpoints of german bibles to chose from (i know that will change) and design of the app (i hope that will change ) BibleReader 5 is the better product for iOS at the moment, at least for a non-heavy-user as I am. From what i read i guess Accordance already has a better search etc, but for the normal guy looking for a bible, BibleReader has a bit more to offer in usability.

Colin Randall
I would agree with Norman as regards iOS versions. Accordance is probably better for Bible study and research and has a great range of commentaries and other material. BibleReader works better as a Bible 'on your lap' when visiting people's homes or in small group discussions because the interface is very intuitive. Having said that we are all aware that this is just version 1 of the Accordance App and I am sure future versions will change all this.

Justin Neal
I am very happy I found Accordance. I bought Ilumina which is neat because it has video and neat and shinny bits and pieces, but I was disappointed in it. I am sure that program will be great for my kids when they get older, I already pla...yed the Christmas story for them. But when I tried Accordance on a whim last Christmas it was instantly the right program for me. I love it and it is the only program that I need.

The iOS is neat and I am very happy with v.1. I wish the Greek/Hebrew tag text would show a lexicon definition when I look up a word instead of going to a complete other reference tool, I always seem to loose my place in the text when I leave. And I still don't have all my modules downloaded because it quits on me. But when sync comes out all will be fixed. Anyway the iOS is great for what it is for now and knowing Accordance it will only get better. Until then its a great reader in my pocket for when I need it.

Also Youverson linked to FB which was a neat trick and it was easy to copy and paste into a document. I have not tried very hard to copy and past into a document yet but at first glance it didn't work for me. It would be very handy if the iOS had the same copy/paste options that the OSX version has.

Victor Gutierrez

January 08, 2011 7:11 PM

Accordance is "better" in several important areas compared with the other available Bible software for OS X. I invested a very considerable amount of money and time in the other software, but almost asked for a refund from the other software. What is stopping me is that there are several key resources that accordance doesn't have. 

I would say that Software wise, accordance is a better program, but resource wise, I still like the other one (although the program drives me insane, and I despise using it.) 

Libor Divis

October 04, 2012 8:03 AM

Is not better online Bible software, regardless of operating system, without necessity to install at your own computer?

I am a Christian from the Czech Republic, and I am also the author of a on-line Bible software "SOB" (www.obohu.cz/bible). The program provides an in-depth
Bible study without knowledge of the original biblical languages - Hebrew, Aramaic and Koine Greek. At this time, the application includes more than 150 Bible translations, dictionaries, concordances, lexicons, commentaries, etc. This application also allows searching, comparing any translations and online listening narrated bibles. This application is very young - only one year old.