Logos 8 – Notable Performance Improvements

For over ten years I used Logos as my primary tool for studying the Bible. A few years ago, however, it seemed clear to me that my primary interests and the focus of Faithlife (the company that makes Logos) were going in different directions. I wanted a product that prioritized original language research, and it seemed to me that Faithlife was focusing primarily on creating new ways for their average customer to discover new things in Scripture. Helping people discover new insights is great, but it wasn’t where my interests were. I was struggling in the forums to get typos fixed in what I considered to be key resources, and so I eventually made the move to Accordance. I love Accordance and still use it every day. So why am I reconsidering Logos?

At some point, Logos ironed out the typographical problems in their Dead Sea Scrolls resources. That was the primary issue that turned me away from the product. Recently, they also significantly upgraded their mobile app — changes that affect the every day reading experience. Tabbed browsing makes it easier to have multiple resources open and easily move between them. What I care about is how quickly and fluidly I can move throughout the program, open resources, look up words, and run searches without seeing the spinning beach ball of sluggishness. The reading experience is the key.

Finally, when Logos 8 released I heard there were significant performance improvements, and this is what made me want to give it another shot. Logos is notorious for severely taxing older computers with an intense, frequent indexing process, and in my opinion, the program has not been snappy since the Libronix/Logos 3 days. The way the promotional material spoke about performance improvements tipped the scales. I had to give it another shot. I’ve been using Logos 8 for a couple months now, and here are a few thoughts on my experience with both the Mac and iOS apps.

Mac app

I have been using Logos 8 on two laptops:

  1. a mid-2014 MacBook Pro with a 2.2GHz i7, 256GB SSD, and 16GB of RAM
  2. an early-2014 MacBook Air with a 1.4GHz i5, 128GB SSD, and 4GB of RAM

Here’s the scoop: Logos 8 runs well on both machines.

On the MacBook Pro, I thought the performance was solid from start to finish. The startup time was very reasonable, it was easy to open and move around multiple resources, searches were very fast, and much to my surprise even the indexing process seemed more efficient. I am really happy with how quickly I can open multiple resources, move them around, and run searches. At no point did I hit a wall where I thought the program was having to catch up. That’s a big deal, but that is also on a MacBook Pro. Granted, it’s a four year old MacBook Pro, but it has 16GB of RAM.

The real story here is that Logos 8 runs well on my MacBook Air with a measly 4GB of RAM! I did not expect this. I want to illustrate what I mean by “well,” so the video below demonstrates basic performance functions like opening the program, opening resources, moving them around, looking up words, and running a simple morphological search — text, lexicon, & concordance work.

Even in a resource as typographically complex as the Qumran Sectarian Manuscripts, I can scroll through the resource with relative ease. If I scroll down or up as fast as I can in any of the resources I opened, eventually scrolling becomes jumpy, but that is not a big deal. You don’t navigate from Matthew to James by scrolling. You use the navigation box. If you just want to scroll a few paragraphs or chapters or even to the next book of the Bible, that’s no problem.

I don’t have any detailed metrics to report — just a video and my testimony based on every day, normal use. I am happy with the performance of the Logos 8 Mac app.

iOS app

The iOS app serves well as an on-the-go reading companion. You can download books for offline access, including morphologically tagged resources. So if you want to download your GNT and be able to double-click for morphological information and quick word lookups, you can do this even when offline. When your text is downloaded and the lexicons you want to access are downloaded to your mobile device, looking up words is fast — down right snappy.

The mobile app features tabbed browsing and the ability to save workspaces. This means that I can create a workspace for reading Anabasis with the text, lexicon, reading notes, and companion grammar, easily swipe between the resources, and then save that workspace when I’m done and navigate to another reading setup for the GNT or Hebrew Bible.

Aesthetically, both the Mac and iOS apps look great. I love the Greek and Latin fonts. The iOS app is particularly noteworthy because it fills the screen of the latest iOS devices, from edge to edge, and has a true black reading mode that is gorgeous on OLED displays. Here is a video that illustrates opening a saved workspace, looking up words, navigating to another workspace, and using tabbed browsing. I’m recording this on a 2018 12.9 iPad Pro:

As a reading companion, the app does its job, but there are a few annoying glitches that affect the reading experience. For example, if you need to look up multiple words in a sentence and want to do this by double-clicking each word, you find that double-clicking frequently just highlights the next word without showing the quick information pop-up. The other issue is that sometimes the app seems to cause the resource you are viewing to jump several lines up. This happens most frequently when flicking between tabbed resources in the same workspace.

These issues are much easier to illustrate with a video. In what follows note that every other word shows the information pop-up. The second issue is harder to reproduce, but it does happen a couple times toward the end. As I move around in the text and flip back and forth between resources, notice that the text jumps from Matthew 5:24 to Matthew 5:9. This happens around second 40. The same thing happens again around second 50.

Conclusion

I’m really happy to say that Logos 8 seems like a mature product. There are new, experimental features, but the performance improvements make Logos 8 seem to me like the most stable, efficiently running version since the era before the major rewrite that took place between Logos 3 and 4. I have tried to show here that for everyday reading, lexicon work, and research, Logos 8 should run well enough on older, entry-level laptops, as well as more robust machines. I’m sure there are portions of the program that would still push an old MacBook Air to the limit, but those are not features that I have encountered as I use the software for teaching, reading, and reference. At this point, the mobile app still seems primarily intended to be a reading companion to the Mac app, but if you primarily use the software to read and reference lexicons, the mobile app can serve as your primary driver. I use it far more than the desktop version, and overall I’m happy with it. I hope the glitches noted above will be fixed soon, and I would love to see more robust, full-featured morphological and lemma search functionality come to the mobile app.

You can learn more about Logos 8 here. Note especially the free basic academic package and the academic discount program. They have other academic packages, as well. These are streamline packages intended to better meet the needs of students and those interested primarily in original languages.

Obligatory disclosure statement: Logos provided me a free upgrade to version 8 for review.

Something to Love

I wrote a note to the HLS students for their school paper this month and wanted to post it here, too. From the February Nova Roma:

On the wall of my home office hangs a picture of my kiddos with these words from one of my favorite songs:

I hope you find something to love, something to do when you feel like giving up. A song to sing or a tale to tell, something to love, it’ll serve you well.

Children are certainly “something to love,” but I typed the words beside the picture of Beau and Noelle because the lyrics from Jason Isbell’s song are my wish for my them. I hope that they find something in this wonderful world that enchants them like Greek enchants me.

I think the most important reason to pursue classical studies is because the languages and literature are full of beauty. If it isn’t Greek or Latin for you, maybe it’s Science or Math, English or something altogether different. One way or another, I pray you find your something to love. Despite its brokenness, the world is the Lord’s, and it is full of his glory.

Comparing OT Texts in Accordance

After saving a workspace, you can launch it with just a couple clicks. This is one of my favorite features in Accordance. As I show below, it only takes a minute to set up, and a second or two to launch. I regularly use this feature to quickly see several ancient versions of the Old Testament in parallel.

Set up the texts

Open your Hebrew Bible, and use the Add Parallel button to add the biblical Dead Sea Scrolls and all the other ancient versions you have in your library.

Save the workspace

Order the columns however you like, and then go to File > Open Workspace > Add Workspace and name it something like OT Texts.

Next time

Now, the next time you are in an OT text and want to check the readings of other ancient witnesses, simply two-finger click (or right-click) on the verse reference and go to My Workspaces > OT Texts. This will open a new workspace in a separate window with all the ancient versions in parallel. When you are finished, close that window and your back to your text.

Video Example

Bible Odyssey: What is the Oldest Bible?

I wrote an article for Bible Odyssey answering this question.

Bible Odyssey is an online initiative of SBL intended to communicate the results of scholarship to a popular audience.

The article is a response to several user questions related to the issue of “oldest Bible.” I tried to explain that the answer depends on what one means by “oldest” (materially? textually?) and by “Bible” (a bound book? Protestant? Catholic?).

On the bottom right of the page there is also a related links section where I provide links to a few of the manuscripts and editions mentioned in the article.

Check it out.

Brill Font Wins

I’ve been using the Brill font for all my Greek and Latin quizzes this year, and I couldn’t be happier with it. I’ve used various Gentium fonts and SBL in the past, but Brill wins for a few reasons.

First, it includes regular, bold, italic, and bold italic for all the characters, including Greek. So if I want to make a bold heading with a Greek word in it, I can do so with the Greek being true bold.

Second, it has characters for all your Greek, Latin, and English needs so there is no reason to switch between fonts and keyboards. Furthermore, it offers comprehensive support for transliteration of all-the-languages.

Third, I like its design. It’s seriffed and styled without being too cursive looking (leaning to the right). And when I say that I like its design, I mean I really like the way both the Greek and English look — like a lot. It’s beautiful.

The only drawback to using Brill is that because it’s designed to be used for transliteration of all the classical languages the letter characters are a little smaller than what you see in a standard font like Times New Roman. The extra space for diacritics, however, leaves plenty of room for underlining a word without breaking too far into the Greek letters that extend below the line.

Robert Henle on Learning Latin

Swoon!

YOU LEARN BY WORKING OUT THE EXERCISES FOR YOURSELF, just as you learn to swim by blundering about in the water, not by watching someone else set a world’s record in the pool. THE MORE EXERCISES YOU DO, THE MORE QUICKLY YOU WILL MASTER LATIN, AND THE EASIER IT WILL BE LATER ON. If you really want to learn, you will read and translate more Latin than your teacher assigns.

No nonsense truth!

Robert Henle on Learning to Read Latin

I’m teaching an elementary Latin class this year using the classic first year Henle book. Early in the grammar he offers some fantastic advice concerning how one can learn to read Latin with understanding — advice I wish I would have followed when at the beginning stages of learning Greek and Hebrew.

Now here is the way to practice reading Latin.

  1. First read each Latin sentence slowly and thoughtfully, trying to understand it. At first you won’t understand a thing. But do this each time anyway.
  2. Then work out in translation all the words and phrases you didn’t understand. At first you will have to work out the whole sentence.
  3. Then REREAD the sentence several times, trying to put the MEANING into the Latin and to understand the Latin without thinking of English words. Do this over and over again until you UNDERSTAND the Latin in the Latin order. It will help to read the sentence aloud and to put as much meaning into your voice as possible. (Be sure to pronounce the words correctly!)

If you do this regularly NOW, Latin later on will be much easier and you will have the satisfaction of reading it quickly and easily.

OT Textual Criticism LibGuide

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Students in Old Testament exegesis classes at SBTS regularly have to work through textual criticism projects. Gathering all the resources to make a table of witnesses is one of their biggest obstacles.
I made this LibGuide to show them exactly what they need and where to find it in the library. Have a look if you like, but for whatever reason, at the moment none of our LibGuides are displaying well in Safari on a Mac. You might have to use Chrome or another browser.

Features:

  • There is a tab for each language of the most important witnesses.
  • There is a lexicons tab, where you can find the most important lexicons for each language.
  • There are two tabs that link to introductions to the field and OT textual commentaries.