Bible Software Review
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Online Bible

Publisher: Online Bible
Version reviewed: 2.10.09
Cost: Free
Reviewed: April 26, 2008
At A Glance (1-5)
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The Online Bible has been around for a long time, longer than any of the other Bible software packages reviewed here. It was started in Canada in 1987 by one person and grew from there. It is now an initiative of Online Bible Europe, with offices in numerous countries around the world. The word "Online" was coined at the very beginning, long before the internet boom hit, so perhaps this was just forward thinking on the part of the author. In any case, you don't actually have to be "online" to use the product.


The product was created in 1987, and I don't think the interface has changed since then. I would say the user interface is at least 15 years old, exhibiting a strong Windows 3.1 look and feel. In my opinion the product is very difficult to use and non-intuitive.

For instance, while viewing a Strong's entry, there are other related Strong's numbers referenced in the entry as green, underlined text. This clearly implies a link, and based on all your years of using links and hypertext you would expect to click on the text and jump to the corresponding entry. You would be wrong. You must double-click the hypertext link. While not inherently bad, it is one of many examples of how the Online Bible interface is different than most other current software. The user manual even has a section on "hypertext", it's history, and it's usefulness, making it even more odd that it is implemented non-intuitively. Such examples abound throughout the software.

You can open a Bible pane and a corresponding pane for commentaries and books. The commentaries do stay in sync with the Bibles. At one point I opened up another pane that looked identical to the Bible pane. But the verses appeared to be messed up. It was only after much research that I realized that the pane actually was a verse list of all the verses referenced by the Treasure of Scripture Knowledge based on the verse in the Bible pane. In actuality this is a neat feature, no need to hover over the verses in your commentary or open up new windows. But again, there was nothing intuitive about how I got there, nor could I do it again on purpose of I tried.

Part of the problem is that the individual panes have no buttons or titles on them suggesting their use or purpose. The window titles show the verse you are on in the Bible pane, or the title of the book in the Book pane, but that's about it.

A separate pane for dictionary-type books does not exist. You cannot easily look up a word from your current text in any of the Bible dictionaries either. I could find no mechanism for viewing dictionaries in a pane other than through the library tool, which is a list of all your resources in hierarchical form. When you view a dictionary in this way, it forces you to select one entry, which is displayed in a separate pane. However, you cannot scroll through entries, jump to any other entries, or easily jump to the same entry in a different dictionary resource.

You can annotate a Bible verse with some nice markups, such as highlighting, bold, different font sizes, etc. This is nice for viewing a verse later, much like marking verses in your Bible. But you can't do it while directly on a verse. You must right-click the verse, select "Annotate" and the verse appears in a separate window with the annotation tools.

When viewing Bible text, you can hover over a word and a popup will appear with your dictionary resources. You select one of those resources in the popup and the popup changes to the corresponding dictionary reference. Any Bible verses referred to in the dictionary text can be clicked, but you only see the verse in yet another popup. At no time can you actually get to an actual window containing the dictionary entry or Bible verse.

There is a parallel view, but strangely enough but there is no indication on which version is which! The view is row-based, not column-based, which as I've said elsewhere is more difficult to follow even when the program is nice enough to let you know which verse is in which version; it's almost impossible when it doesn't.


Pressing the Search button brings up a simple search dialog. You can search by word or by phrase, and search a particular segment of scripture. You can also search a different resource, but only one at a time! There is no method to search multiple resources at once. This is a critical piece of missing functionality for Bible software. [Update: I have been corrected - there is an option to search multiple "databases" as OLB puts it, and you can uncheck the "Bibles Only" checkbox to include non-Biblical resources in your search. This knowledge would have changed the score to probably a 2, but I don't like changing the scores after the fact, warts and all.]

The search results are fast, however, and nicely displayed in a separate pain for easy viewing and linking to other resources.


The standard set of free resources are available with the starter pack or downloadable for free (KJV, AV, Barnes, Henry, Easton, ISBE, Thompson Chain, Naves, etc.). You can download many other resources from the website. Online Bible provides a good standard set of classic commentaries, dictionaries, and Bibles for download.

In addition, a very large number of user-created resources are also available free of charge.

Finally, there is a surprising number of modern translations available at dirt cheap prices - ESV ($5), HCSB ($5), NASB ($15) and NIV($15). This is good news of you prefer one of the modern translations for your Bible study.


You have the option of entering your own notes. Here again, the interface issues arise. When I selected the personal notes icon, a huge editor appeared covering the whole screen, including the verse I was entering a note for. I had to manually reduce the size of the window. The default text is huge and I could find no place to change it. It is not a true WYSIWYG editor. In order to do simple formatting you must enter archaic codes. Even if the codes were similar to the codes used in HTML or in forums across the universe it would be acceptable. But it is not. For instance, you must surround text with "\\" for bold, or "\@" for italics. One time I accidentally deleted a section of text, so I automatically pressed Ctrl-Z, which is the Windows standard for undoing an action. Did it undo the action? No, it just closed the notes window without warning.

The program has a nice mechanism for writing and importing your own modules free of charge. This is a useful piece of functionality that most other packages do not have, or charge an exorbitant amount to obtain. You can then share your modules with the Online Bible community, which many have done. Props to Online Bible for providing this capability.


You can get support from the website's official FAQ or via an email address. I emailed a question to tech support and received a response almost exactly 24 hours later. Unfortunately, the response was less than intelligent. Here was my question:
I have been using Online Bible for a couple weeks now, and I noticed I have to double-click all the links that are in green in order to open the related resource. I was wondering if there is any mechanism to change that functionality to a single-click, so that the hypertext behaves more like a true web interface?
The response:
It is possible. I find the opposite in that I double click on stuff and get two copies running!
Yes, that was the totality of the response. So, it is possible. Great. Do you think you could let me know how? The second sentance suggests they didn't understand what I was asking, though I thought it was pretty clear.

A fairly active group of users congregate around the online forum, accessible from a link on their website. However, the forum software is Bravenet, which is not the most modern forum software available, but does the trick. You can visit the Online Bible forums


Cost: The software and a large number of books are resources are free. Some resources must be purchased, but at a reasonable price.

There is a little value here but not much. What is of value is offset by the terrible implementation and poor interface. Even though a thorough set of PDF-based documentation is available for download, the product is just plain hard to use. A computer interface should enhance your use of the system, not get in the way.

In closing I will say, in the interest of fairness, that previous negative reviews of the Online Bible has garned more strong responses in favor of the product than any other package I have reviewed. So obviously there are some ardent users of the product. Perhaps it is because the package has been around for so long, and people stick with what they are familiar with.

But for the rest of us, I can in no way recommend this product. The website states "Whether you are a pastor, Sunday School teacher or just looking for a program to 'dig into' the scriptures, you will find everything you need in this software." I disagree. It is just too hard to use, has too few features, and is eclipsed in every category by nearly all other Bible software packages available.

Copyright, 2002, 2008
Foster Enterprises
Email me at: Jerry [ at ] Fostertribe [ dot ] org