Bible Companion by Smart Solutions Group

Manufacturer: Smart Solutions Group, Inc.
Title: Bible Companion 2.0 and XML
Version/Date: 2.0 or 4 XM Build 312 Mozilla
Contact: Web Site: www.biblecompanion.com (No Longer Active!)

Update: I was surprised in December 2003 to find that the Bible Companion website was no longer active. It appears that Bible Companion XML has been taken off the market, and with the demise of the website it appears that support for the older Bible Companion 2.0 is no longer available.

Gramcord (see www.gramcord.org) is still currently using the Bible Companion 2.0 version engine, but is in the process of switching to the Lightning Study Bible engine by HeavenWord (www.heavenword.com). The Gramcord site offers a few free modules for the Bible Companion series if you already have the main software. Also, I believe the version of BCS.EXE they use in Gramcord is compatible with Windows XP, so you could consider purchasing Gramcord if you need this update.

An Short Unofficial History of Bible Companion

I find the history of Bible Companion to be very interesting and think it provides an insightful view into the challenges of developing Bible study software. For those that are interested, I offer this short, unofficial history of Bible Companion, gleaned from reading various posts on the Intenet. I apologize for any inaccuracies.

A general timeline:

198? SeedMaster for DOS is developed and released as shareware by White Harvest Software, Raleigh, NC (Scott Musser)
1991 SeedMaster for Windows V3.1 is released as shareware (still available, see bottom of this page)
1995 Bible Companion is released by White Harvest and ISSC (a division of IBM) as commercial software
1996 Bible Companion is purchased by Loizeaux Brothers, Inc., of Neptune, NJ (Peter Bartlett, President); Scott Musser is no longer associated with SeedMaster or BC, and starts HeavenWord, Inc.
199? Bible Companion is updated to V2, which improves Windows integration, and partners with GRAMCORD
199? Loizeaux Brothers, Inc. develops a separate 32-bit STEP Reader that can be called from Bible Companion
2002 Bible Companion is sold to Smart Solutions Group (SmartG)
2002 Bible Companion XML is developed as a complete rewrite of Bible Companion (32-bit)
2003 Bible Companion goes out of business...BCS is still used as the engine for GRAMCORD
2003 HeavenWord (Scott Musser again!) releases The Lightning Study Bible! 

SeedMaster was a well respected program. It was compatible with The Online Bible data modules (up to OLB Version 6), and received a very good review in Christian Computing Magaizine, November 1994. It was originally offered as shareware and was declared to be freeware when the commercial version "Bible Companion" was released.

There has been some confusion as to the freeware status of SeedMaster because only the program and SOME of the data modules could be considered freeware. Most of the data modules retained their copyrights and were not freeware, though several websites distributed them without copyright notices.

The release of Bible Companion met with success. It didn't gain the popularity of programs such as QuickVerse, Logos, and PC Study Bible, but it did gain a faithful following and received many favorable reviews.

Around the mid-90's Windows 95 and Windows 98 were developed that provided 32-bit processing power. Bible Companion 2.0 remained 16-bit. This was partially so that all of its users wouldn't have to upgrade their Windows, but likely mainly because re-programming to 32-bit processing was too large a task. They did provide a 32-bit STEP reader that could be called from within Bible Companion.

In the new millenium, most Bible software programs were updated to 32-bit processing to take advantage of the new features of Windows, the Internet, and so forth. Although Bible Companion 2.0 still worked well, the interface was looking a little old in the tooth.

Bible Companion was sold to the Smart Solutions Group, which revamped the web-page and announced the development of Bible Companion XML. They worked with BibleWorkshop of Germany to develop the engine, and began the long conversion process from the old format Bible Companion modules to the new XML format. The new format would provide greater cross-referencing capability. Bible XML was released as a commercial package (and a version was available as a download), but it wasn't long on the market before Bible Companion closed its doors.

While I don't know the exact reasons for the failure of Bible Companion XML, I would expect the following factors played a part:

1. There is a lot of competition (see main review page)
2. Not all owners of Bible Companion 2.0 would upgrade (many probably don't even have Internet access)
3. BC XML was not able to convert all the old modules so users who wanted to upgrade still needed to keep the old version 2 on their PC if they wanted access to all modules, reducing the incentive to upgrade.

Finally, it may have been that the effort required to keep up with program bug fixes and also continue to convert data modules was simply too much for the developers.

Bible Companion 2.0 users should rest in the fact that they have a good product that still works. If you need the latest version of Bible Companion Software, you can purchase a version of GRAMCORD that includes a version compatible with Windows XP (I believe).

Note: SeedMaster can still be found on the Internet. The following are a few links I've found:

White Harvest Software (now extinct): SeedMaster 3.1a. Precursor to Bible Companion, popular in the 1990's. Works on Windows 3.1, and includes KJV, ASV, Darby's, Young's, Easton's Dictionary, Hebrew/Greek Lexicon, Topical Index, TSK, and Strong's Concordance. Compatible with the old Online Bible for DOS (V6 and earlier) modules. See: 

http://www.ecmarsh.com/SeedMaster.htm Download all in one package or get a CD for $11.99

http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Parthenon/4447/ Download just the engine

ftp://eliyah.com/pub/download/ Download files individually or as one package

http://scott.saskatoon.com/code/sm2bp/ A Perl based SeedMaster to BiblePlus (for PalmOS) converter


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