BerBible by LaSofStuf

Last Update: May 2008
Manufacturer:
LaSofStuf (Lynn David Allan)
Title: Berean Bible Study Freeware (BerBible)
Version/Date: V2.40 Apr 2008
Contact: Web page: http://www.berbible.org

Description:  BerBible is a Bible reader program designed to be easy for anyone to use. BerBible was originally intended to be usable by a missionary in the 3rd world with limited download capability (think 9600 baud vs. 56kbps or broadband) and older computers (think 640x480 screens). The idea is to provide the Scripture and an easy search bar that allows you to find a specific word or verse in the Bible quickly, even with older computers. On a modern system, the program flies! While I haven't tested it on an older system, it seems it should function quite well.

To view a short 2½ minute video "tutorial" on how BerBible works, you can check out this link:
http://www.berbible.org/slides/BbTutorial.html

Note: BerBible also offers versions for PocketPC and Palm pda devices, which were also designed for rapid performance.
Pocket PC video
Palm pda device video

Comments: This review is based on the April 2008 version of BerBible. It is a well done reader program, with some extra power hidden under its simple interface.

Most of my Bible Study requirements would be fulfilled by this program with only a couple of changes. Most of the time I am simply searching the Bible for passages, and then copying them into a word processor. Rarely do I go to commentaries and so forth, and I don't usually need Strong's Numbers, either, though I do utilize these types of features when doing a more intensive study.

The main features lacking for me (as describe below) are a more robust text copying tool (to include Book, Chapter, and Verse), and the normal Microsoft Windows minimize and maximize buttons (though you can right click on the Title Bar and select these).

The small size, ease of use, and rapid performance makes BerBible a handy tool to have on any computer for those times when you just want to find something quickly. For a work computer or laptop which restricts applications that can be loaded on the local hard-drive, BerBible also works with a USB Thumb Drive. Its search capabilities are quite strong, so it is certainly worth checking out!

Screen Capture

berbible

User Interface: As you can see above, BerBible features a Navigation pane to the left, and the main Text-Viewer pane to the right, with a toolbar on top. The Navigation window also serves as a search results list when a find is performed.

Older versions of BerBible used to have a separate Options tool box, now all the options are managed from the drop-down menus.

The View menu group provides a few Appearance options such as: selecting the Font style and size; displaying the words of Christ in Red; displaying the Bible text in one-verse-per-line or paragraph format; and toggling (on/off) the display of any Notes and/or Headings that may appear in a Bible Translation.

The Screen can be resized using the mouse, down to about 550x450 so that it works well on an older laptop with VGA resolution, or for people with impaired vision. You can still see about 9 verses with the font size set to medium. One thing I found missing was the normal Minimize and Maximize buttons at the top right of the screen that are common Microsoft Windows tools at the top right of most applications. You can right click on the Title Bar and select these functions from the pull-down list, but since I use these functions quite often, I'd prefer to see the single-click buttons. They are also present in the View menu group. The developer, Lynn Allan, told me that you can't have both the "What's This ?-Mark" tool as well as the Min/Max buttons, so a design tradeoff was made.

Opening Books, Appearance, and Navigating

Since there is only one Bible "module" in use at any one time in BerBible, navigation is easy.

First, select your Bible Version using the drop-down combo-box in the toolbar, near the upper left.

Next, simply begin typing in the toolbar text window either a Bible Verse Reference (such as John 3:16) or one or more words to search for (F3 and F4 are shortcuts to get to the input field). You can then click on the Find button to search the Bible for the word(s), or lookup the verse reference. You don't even need to use the button as you can also just hit Enter, and BerBible will interpret what you wanted to do from the context of the entry. Previous entries are saved in a MRU (Most Recently Used), which is especially handy on a PPC or Palm.

Of course, to move to a passage, you can also use the Navigation pane and simply click on the Book and then the Chapter you want. This is likely most useful when reading. You can even use the keyboard in the Navigation pane and hit the first letter of the book you want. Hit the letter again to go to the next book starting with that letter. For example, hitting "r" sequentially takes you from Ruth to Romans to Revelations in a flash. There are immediate menu items at the top and short-cuts to go to the next or previous chapter.

Each toolbar button and check-box also features a keyboard shortcut: Find is Ctrl-f; toggle All-Words is Alt-A; Help is F1, and many others.

Right Clicking in the Bible Text-Viewer Window provides the following options:

Module Linking and Management: Currently BerBible does not feature any commentaries, dictionaries, maps, and so forth. Its concentration is an easy to use interface to finding things in the Bible. Sola scriptura

After a search is performed, the Navigation window will contain a list of found verses. By clicking on a verse, the Bible window will go to that verse so you can see the full context. The search result hits are still displayed, so you can continue to click on references in the Navigation window to see them in the Bible Text-Viewer window. You can also hover the mouse over a search match and see that verse.

Modules:  There are several Bibles available for BerBible, including the ESV, KJV, NET, NKJV, and others. See the website for the full listing of available content. As of the time of this review, BerBible is the only Bible software that legally offers the NKJV as a free download. A version for Russian users with the RST (Russian Synodal Translation) is indicated as being in the pipeline, with most user interface elements also in Russian (controls, menu items, most documentation, etc.). Spanish, French, German, Greek, and other languages with 8-bit character codes would follow.

Search: BerBible is focused on search as a primary function, as explained above. That is, you simply enter text and BerBible searches for either all the passages containing the word(s), or the Bible Reference that was entered. BerBible provides some fairly powerful search options that were not obvious to me on first look. The toolbar offers several checkboxes and drop-down combo-boxes that are always visible so you can see exactly which options are active

Once a search is performed, the Navigation window will now display a list of verse references that contain the entered words. The Bible window will contain those complete verses. You can hover the mouse over a verse reference in the Navigation window, and a pop-up will display the full verse, saving you from having to scroll the Bible window. There is a View toggle for highlighting the search words in the Text-Viewer.

If no selection is found during the search (such as looking for a misspelled word like enock), the Text-Viewer search window continues to show the last chapter viewed. The top Title Bar does show "Count: 0", indicating no matches were found. I would have preferred the Search Results to show at least a "not found" in the search results window as a more clear indication that no matches were made. As explained in the Help file, sometimes results such as this can be because you have the Options set too narrow. For example, you intend to do an "any" word search but have "all" entered instead. Thus, your search on "Jesus Christ Lord God Spirit" only provided three passages rather than the 10,000 or so you expected!

As I side note, I do like the fact that BerBible displayed all 10,095 results on the above search. Some programs limit search results to say, 100 verses or so. This could be because of the speeds of the programs. BerBible is very fast, so displaying 10,000 results is almost instant (the developer claims about 1/10th of a second on an obsolete 400mhz Pentium III). Several other programs are much slower, so trying to display 10,000 results might provide a significant delay.

Below is a display of a search results:

BerBible Search

Editing Features: BerBible does not include an editor. Use your favorite text editor or word processor and make ample use of the Ctrl-C (copy) and Ctrl-P (paste) functions of Microsoft Windows!

This is one area that could use improvement. A Bible tool such as this is often used for preparing papers and sermons, so improved copy functions would be desired. BerBible includes basic copy functions, meaning that you can select any text in the Bible window and copy and paste to your application using the Ctrl-C key or right clicking the mouse button and selecting Copy. However, no formatting or verse information is provided.

Some programs automatically include the verse notation. For example, in SwordSearcher, I can go to Genesis 1:1, and right click on the passage. I then have the option of selecting just that verse, or selecting from Genesis 1:1 to any other verse in that same chapter. Also, when the verses are copied, it includes the book and verse selection in the paste operation. That is, if I select Genesis 1:1-2, the pasted text will show: "Genesis 1:1-2 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."

Greek and Hebrew Tools: BerBible does not feature any specific Greek or Hebrew tools, not even Strong's numbers. However, it is so much faster to start and search that you may find it handy to have around to supplement a more full-featured Bible study tool.

Graphics And Audio: There are no graphics or audio tools.

Cost And Support

BerBible is available for free download. There are no nags or guilt trips to Please Donate.

Lynn Allan, the developer, has been very responsive to all my emails. He's mentioned that he has been abundantly blessed by God, and BerBible is his way of giving something back.

The Help file is very extensive, providing a step-by-step tutorial designed for the beginning computer user. An advanced tutorial is also included that explains how to use capabilities beyond the basics. A few video tutorials are available online (see above links). The Context Sensitive Help available through the What's This ?-Mark icon in the upper right will generally answer most of your questions. 60+ pages of traditional F1 Help are also provided. Forums have recently been made available.