Sunday, May 25, 2014

Logos needs an Easy Reading mode

Edit: Between Nick and Dave's helpful comments, a lot of this post has become irrelevant. You can access a reading mode with F11, and you can install Vyrso as an app which is much more friendly for simply reading. It still doesn't quite deal with the very unwieldy 'Library' one ends up with thanks to Logos bazillion resources, but these are two very good solutions to my complaints.


Original Post:

I buy 95% of my books in electronic form these days. It’s not my ideal, but it is very convenient, and living in Outer Mongolia makes it a necessity.

I tend to buy across two platforms, Kindle and Logos. I use Logos as my main software for biblical studies, preparing sermons, lectures, classes, doing exegetical work, and for PhD related stuff. I use Kindle for books I can’t get on Logos, and for reading in general. In terms of actual reading, I use Kindle for Windows 8, as well as an actual Kindle.

It seems to me that Logos works great for dealing with original texts, and for co-ordinating these with commentaries, resources, etc., but when it comes to just reading a book through, it has too much functionality and too little ‘pretty’.

First, let me talk about what I like and don’t like about reading with Kindle on the Computer. Firstly, Win 8 is sadly the misbegotten child of touch-screens being run on full-blown computers. So the functional design of the app is bad. If I want to read a footnote and then come back to my previous place, it is an awkward sequence of mouse clicks and moves. It should be 1 left mouse click, and one keypress to return to place. Even better, it should be “mouse over the footnote and contextual pop-up mini-window”. What I do like is that it’s clear, readable, good sized text on a bright white background. And it has minimal distraction in a full-screen mode.

What is difficult in Logos is that it’s not pretty for reading books. It’s cumbersome to get into a floating window and then full-size it. It still has a window and various options which clutter the screen. It doesn’t employ white space well. It doesn’t make straight-reading ‘easy’ on the eye. Also, the huge number of Logos resources you are likely to end up with makes it hard to ‘keep track of’ what you own. Sure, you can search, but you can’t seem to browse very easily. To keep track of books I have purchased that I want to actually read through, and not simply utilise in other research, I actually go to the Logos webpage, look up my order history, and manually compile a list. This is sub-optimal.
What would improve this?

1 Some kind of browse option, utilising book names and their cover images.

2. A “reading” mode that was genuinely full-sized. That continued to give mouse-over integration, and that presented the text in a slightly more readable spacing.

3. Automatically add newly purchased resources to a Favourites Group, “new Purchases”, and let users (a) know this feature, (b) have a quick tutorial on how to organise lists in Favourites to sort these kinds of things.



It could be that some of these things could be done more efficiently by me as a user even now, but I don’t find Logos to be very good at guiding users. It’s clear how to get around the UI most of the time, but as an average user I have to google anything advanced to figure it out. 

4 comments:

Nick Norelli said...

F11 should take you into reading mode. At least it does in Windows 7. I haven't used Logos in Windows 8.

Seumas Macdonald said...

Who knew? It seems to create 4 columns, which is not very attractive for books. Perhaps there is a way to configure this though.

Now, if I can just figure out my browsing books problem...

cafedave said...

have you tried vyrso? it's their reading app.

Seumas Macdonald said...

@cafedave

When I had a tablet that wasn't a thousand scintillating pieces of cracked glass, I used vyrso a little, yes.

Trying to install vyrso on Windows now, but now I'm just getting unintelligible error messages.

Thanks for your suggestion though.