Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Review of NICOT/NICNT on Olive Tree software

Obviously I have not read every page of the NIC series, but I have used it extensively. Like all multi-author series, it is uneven in quality, but the whole is worth having, and I do recommend it. The NICOT/NICNT series is one of the best series, and it features many must-have volumes: Hamilton on Genesis, Waltke on Proverbs, Moo on Romans, Towner on the Pastoral Epistles (though he decries that name) in the newer volumes, Morris on John and Murray on Romans in the older — these are indispensable books.

This review focuses on those books in the Olive Tree software for PCs: the NICNT and the NICOT. Olive Tree supplied me with the books for review.

Regular readers know that I've loved Olive Tree software on my iPhone. I've often alerted you to Olive Tree sales and news. We've all appreciated that Olive Tree seems to do its best to price its products as reasonably as possible, and often has significant sales.

So what's the word on Olive Tree (henceforth OTree) as a PC application?

I owe God, you and Olive Tree the truth. Thus, I have to say regretfully that, for my purposes, OTree books on the PC right now is at best a work-in-progress. I'll be specific.

On the plus: all the books' text is there, along with all the font-effects and (as far as I can tell) the Hebrew and Greek fonts. If all you want to do is read the books, well, there they are, just fine, and at decent prices.

However, I'm afraid that left with quite a few gripes at this point, in varying degrees. Unfortunately, Logos has not yet supplied me with NIC volumes for a detailed review, but I will make a few comparisons with Logos as an application.
  1. Copy text from a book to a word processor and you lose a great deal. You lose all footnotes, all font effects (i.e. italics), and you even quotation-marks and apostrophes. If you copy text with (say) the phrase "Yahweh's image as go`el," what you get is "Yahwehs image as goel." So you have to go back and forth and repair each copied selection.
  2. Copy text from a book to a word processor and zero bibliographical info is supplied. That is, it does not create a footnote with source citation. (Contrast Logos, which creates a fully-documented footnote.) Absent that, there is no way to locate the text — page number, hyperlink, nothing. That's a bad flaw. It renders OTree well-nigh worthless for authors or students.
  3. There is no marginal table of contents. If you want to find something quickly... well, good luck.
  4. Notes that you create on the text in OTree do not hyperlink back to the text. That is, you can see a mess of your notes, but they don't take you back to the location in which you inserted them. They are present in the text, but you just have to find them. So if you see, "This is the clearest explanation I've ever read" among your notes, nothing in that note takes you back to the location, and the text doesn't have page numbers.
  5. Nor do notes within Olive Tree link within texts. For instance, in Towner's work on the Pastorals, a footnote reads, "See above on Christology, C. 3. c. (2)." Whereas (say) Logos would likely link straight to that text, in Olive Tree you're on your own, with no marginal table of contents or any other help. And as you search, you lose your place.
  6. The Find function is moody. I had it simply refuse to work for me at times. That is, I enter a word that absolutely is in the text, but Find won't find. I have had searches fail; then I close and reopen the application, and the identical searches work.
  7. The layout is very clumsy. For instance, the NICOT/NT are supplied as two massive collections, including all the books in the set. That is, NICNT Romans (for instance)_ is not a separate volume. To find it, you must click on NICNT, then Go to Romans, then drill down any number of levels to find the text you want. (See illustration below.)
  8. There is no way to hyperlink back to text in these books or even cite a page number. This contrasts with the easy way Logos supplies for creating hyperlinks.
  9. The hyperlinks within the books (e.g. Bible verses, footnotes) do not display on mouse-over (as they do in Logos), but must be clicked, whereupon eventually a window pops up. Clumsy.
  10. Highlighting is very clumsy. In Logos, you can select text and hit a single key. In OTree, select the text, right-click, select highlighting, select color. Or select text, click on plus icon in margin, select highlighting, click on color.
  11. The application itself is sometimes balky. More than once, the display goes out of kilter, with the font displaying oddly, or the margins rearranging. Close, reopen, all is well. I had to do this several times with one resource the other day.
To show you what I'm talking about in terms of getting to a book (#7 above): here's what it takes to get to a comment on part of Titus in the NICNT. It takes something like seven different moves.

If all you want is to be able to read something, Olive Tree delivers. I mean — the text is there. For a smart phone, that would be enough. But for PC use by pastors, students, writers, academics, the app of choice for reading books still going to be Logos.

Yet in terms of price, Olive Tree regularly is far the better choice. For instance:

  • NICNT: Olive Tree is selling the set for $499.99, whereas Logos is $879.95 (note, however, that the Logos bundles four more volumes than OTree)
  • NICOT: Olive Tree is selling the set for $699.95, and will supply future volumes as free upgrades; Logos is asking $899.95, and charges for additional volumes.
When the new OTree software version comes out, I plan to do an updated review, and see where it leaves us, whether it OTree gives competition to Logos yet other than in price.

1 comment:

JackW said...

I've had no problem with my OT for Mac, but I admit I don't use it that much. I mostly use OT for iPad and it is outstanding, much better than Logos.

I would say that the desktop version is a work in progress, just as the Logos mobile app is a work in progress.

But then, I've been using OliveTree for about 12 years now and have a lot invested in it.

Thanks for the review.