Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Any Happy Users of LDS Collectors Library 2005?

Back in December I purchased LDS Collectors Library 2005 from LDSLibrary.com - heavily hyped as the latest and coolest Gospel study software, packed with more information than ever, better tools, etc. - and a higher price than its earlier competitors. After installing the 2-CD system, I've tried to use it several times but have been unimpressed - and even dismayed by its sloppy interface. Surely I'm missing something. Yes, there are some cool features and valuable additions, and it may well be worth the cost. But GospelLink 2001 seems much easier to use and more functional in several ways. In fact, if you think that this program ought to offer everything that GospelLink 2001 had plus more, you're in for a real surprise.

With GospelLink and related older programs, navigating and searching were relatively straightforward. With LDS Collectors Library, it's easy to get lost and difficult to move around. Again, am I missing something? As I began writing this post, I searched for other reviews and found that I am not alone. See the reviews at DeseretBook.com and also at Oaknorton.com.

GospelLink and other CD study tools let you copy and paste formatted text to other applications. Graphics could also be copied and pasted. The new software only allows you to take unformatted text outside the application, and does not provide formatting tools of any kind within the application. You can copy graphics and paste them inside the "SmartCopy Preview" window and print them, but that's it. It lacks a composer or useful export feature to allow you to take formatted work outside of the program. It's as if they went to market with the program before they had finished adding basic features.

Further, GospelLink 2001 includes numerous non-LDS sources valuable in studying the ancient world or other issues related to LDS apologetics. The LDS Collectors Library 2005 seems limited to LDS writers only. I would have thought that they would at least include everything GospelLink 2001 had and build on that - but I think more has been deleted than added. Disappointing. For example, Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews is a vitally important book that students of the Book of Mormon really ought to have (many anti-Mormons allege that it was a source for the Book of Mormon - actually reading Ethan Smith's work is a fine cure for that notion), and it was available in GospelLink 2001, but not in the new system. A shame.

However, there are some nice additions, but once you find a book of interest, good luck reading it. The scroll bar for navigating is tied to the entire library, not just the target source you are reading, and moving the scroll bar just a pixel or two will propel you to a different book - and unless the place you were reading was a hit from your latest search, there may not be an easy way to get back to where you were.

The program is also slow. Want to copy a simple paragraph with SmartCopy? On my 2 GHz laptop, I have to wait for slightly over 10 seconds for that Herculean task. Not bad for a tool that will leave you with nothing but plain text in the end. "New improved 'Virtual Legacy' features: get Commodore 64 performance from your modern machine!" But that's really a mean and unfair statement: I'm sure that copying was never that slow on the Commodore or other antique systems.

Again, this product may be worthwhile for many purposes and I'm not suggesting that you avoid it. I'm glad I have it for some of the books it contains, but it could have been so much better. Perhaps an update will come along that will provide features and sources available in GospelLink 2001. I sure hope so!

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

The new programs are...less than perfect, I agree. How is it that each succeeding upgrade has significantly made the program worse?

I didn't even upgrade to GL 2001, which was a serious dumbing-down if the previous version.

I still use folioviews 4.1 with all the .nfo files- GL, the other LDS library, the CES .nfo files, Ensign, and New Mormon Studies .nfo file, all nicely under 1 electronic roof.

The only good thing abou thte new gospelink is that you can create links to it, so subcribing readers (whom I suspect to be few) can jump instantly to whatever book or article you reference.

Anonymous said...

Said Ben S.

Tanya S. said...

How disappointing. I bought this a couple weeks ago, but when trying to install it came up with "Catastrophic Error". It was easy enough to find this error on their online Support FAQs and it said to return it for an exchange; this made me concerned. (Seemed to be a common problem, which doesn't bode well.) I haven't returned it yet because I live quite a ways away. I was just going to exchange it, but after reading this and the other reviews, I think I'll just return it. I have the old 1998-ish GospelLink and Infobases CDs, and they work well for me. I thought this would be an upgrade. Like I said, very disappointing.

Tanya S.

Anonymous said...

1998 was a very good year!

Jim Ericson said...

These are some interesting posts. We are always interested in what our customers have to say about our products, so the feedback is invaluable to us. We have stretched the capabilities of our current product architecture (built using Folio Views) to provide the product as it is today, but we are planning on making some excellent refinements.

We have an update of the LDS Collectors Library 2005, which should be available before the end of March, 2005.

This new update will address the feedback we have received from customers. If you have additional feedback to share, please let us know.

While the product isn't perfect, we have heard from many delighted customers. Many have purchased additional copies to give to friends and family after their experience using the product.

Fortunately for those who have not been completely satisfied with the product thus far, the LDS Collectors Library 2005 allows for software and content updates.

We released one software update in December that addressed some minor issues we identified. We also allowed customers to download and integrate all of the Conference Reports available from LDS.org at that time.

The next update will do the following:

- Include improved navigation for searching and reading and personalizing the library

- Introduce forward/back navigation that follows browser standards

- Allow for faster keyword entry when searching

- Let you view search results found within specific titles, authors, or images

- Include search filtering on one or more author or title
Enable full-text viewing of individual titles rather than entire library

- Display scripture commentaries on a selected verse (in addition to showing where the verse has been cited in the entire library)

The update will also affect many less-visible features.

We hope these changes will improve your experience using the LDS Collectors Library 2005, the first computer desktop gospel study program that is both updatable and expandable.

An iSync content update is planned to coincide with software update this month. The new content will include all of the Priesthood and Relief Society manuals published since 1998 (The Teachings of the Presidents of the Church series) and Sunday School curriculum materials.

If you would like to become involved in product updates and see upcoming changes before they are publicly availble, please send me an email.

I will make sure you are included on our list of product reviewers.

Corey said...

The screenshots of LDS Collectors Library 2005 were enough to deter me from ever considering it.

GospeLink 2001, at least the most recent release of it, has an elegant user interface that quickly gets you to the information you need either through browsing or searching. It also allows you to easily navigate the book you're reading. And there are more books included with it than I'll ever end up having time to read.

If only they had taken GospeLink 2001 and improved upon that, like providing a more robust bookmarking system. Or perhaps if they had just added more content to it. Oh well.

When I couldn't find GospeLink 2001 on the shelves at Deseret Book this past Christmas shopping season, I contacted GospeLink about it. They, of course, told me they had discontinued the product but that I should purchase a yearly subscription to their online product! That's something I'll never do because the Windows interface will always be much richer than the web interface. My friend at work has GospeLink online and it is very difficult to navigate in comparison to the Windows GospeLink product.

So I contacted Sea-gull book in my area and purchased their very last copy of GospeLink 2001 for my brother. He couldn't be happier with it.

But now I don't know what gospel study software to buy for someone in the future. Would it be bad to just buy a one year subscription to GospeLink online and then copy my CD's for them so they can use the Windows version?

-Corey

Anonymous said...

In 20 years of working with computers, this has proven to be the most disappointing software purchase I have ever made. I am sure the people who touted it must have talked from a spec sheet rather than hands on experience. The user interface is so sloppy, there is actually an empty menu on the main menu bar to the left of the file menu. It becomes visible when you pass your mouse over it.

When reading, I press the down arrow key and nothing happens. When I release the down arrow key the screen scrolls down one line. I have to press the down arrow key and then release it for every line I want to scroll down. I haven't used it enough to get carpal tunnel yet.

After doing a search and clicking a couple links, hitting the back button is completely unperdictable as to where you will wind up. If it works at all, it will take you to a place that you have been before, but it may have been many screens ago. So when you leave a screen, be prepared to spend some time finding that screen again if you want to read it again.

Of course, when I installed it out of the box, I found a myriad of problems, some of which were resolved with the online update. The problems that were resolved I don't make mention of. However, the Check for Software update feature didn't work at all. I called support and they seemed very familiar with the problem. I had to download the update separately and install it.

Another touted feature is the "Check for Content Updates". When I click on this I see that there is an update, conference reports since 1971. Since Internet Explorer is not my default browser (too many security problems), the update didn't work. So I set IE has my default browser (eeks), and tried again. Now it downloaded an active X control, but no content data. Then when I retried, the browser comes up with a "404 Page not found error" I discovered froma friend who knows people at the company that I have to uninstall the active X control (named "Move Networks MoveMedia" in the add/remove programs list). After uninstalling and then checking for content updates again it still failed again and again without any error message. The icon it said that should appear in my system tray never appeared. An email to support responded that it sometimes doesn't work when firewalls and antivirus software is running. Disabling it didn't solve my problem. Their email said they would be willing to send me a disk containing the update which I could copy to a directory on my computer which would then tirgger the library to update. I'd rather just download it.

I have talked to several other people who, like me, are amazed with all the problems. I have yet to find someone who likes it.

I like it for the content it contains, but it is so cumbersome to use, I hesitate even waiting for the slow startup time to get it running on my computer.

I've been a software developer for many years. If I had developed software such as this, it would be a well kept secret. If I were hiring a developer whose resume included this product, they would never get an interview.

I'm embarrased for them.

Anonymous said...

I was watching the demo from ldslibrary.com and it is interesting how they make the product look so good and then to compare all the comments you have been posting here.

Is the product really so bad or are you just pointing out the worst parts you have found on a other wise good product?

I am really poor and making these kind of purchasements are a really bid deal in our budget.

Do you know what are the NEW titles that are not in Gospelink 2001?

T. Sami
From Finland.

Anonymous said...

A Gospelink 98c "MUST HAVE" feature I have learned I simply cannot go without is "Click here to go to books that refer to this verse or chapter." If CL2005 has this feature somewhere, will somebody PLEASE tell me where it is!

I love this feature, and since my Gospelink installation gets corrupted when I install CL2005, and then my CL2005 installation gets corrupted after I re-install my Gospelink, I have concluded the best is for me to stick with Gospelink.

I have just recently purchased Gospelink 2001 off Ebay for $35, and am waiting to get it in the mail. I am hoping my favorite feature of Gospelink 98 is also in 2001. Being able to read people's comments on a certain scripture is awesome for lessons and talks, and LEARNING! It's a feature that should be in all LDS Gospel Electronic Libraries.

Does anyone know if the Folio Views program that comes in Gospelink 98 can read the .nfo files in CL2005? Guess I'll just try it out.

Since the late 90's I have used a "virtual CD drive" program called "CD Space" to have additional CD drives in my Windows OS. The program allows up to 23 virtual drives! Naturally, Gospelink's 2 data CDs as well as the additional Gospelink Plus CD that was later released can sit on my D drive partition, along with my maps CDs, Scrabble and other games that require the CD to be a drive, as "CD images" and I don't have to worry about scratching the actual CDs or misplacing them (rather, my children misplacing/scrathing them/cramming them into the VCR, etc...) I can have them all available at once, since they can be "loaded" on multiple virtual drives (I have like 7 or 8 virtual drives), which means no need to swap or wait for CD spin up. It has worked flawlessly, and I recommend it to anybody. You can buy the program for like $20 at h t t p : / / C D S p a c e . c o m .

Have any questions or just want to send me something cool, just email at: p o l e _ b u i l d i n g s @ y a h o o . c o m .

Thanks for all the reviews you all offered. I have a feeling us Saints are pretty particular about our gospel library tools. It is a brave thing for the makers of CL2005/2006 and on to try to provide such a huge work for us. Their work is very appreciated, despite the missing features. I hope they don't get too frustrated by the negative but excited cries for better programming. We just love all the information, and really want it all to work so we can enjoy the information to the fullest extent.

Thanks a lot, CL2005/2006 creators!

Stephen said...

Did they ever fix this mess?

Anonymous said...

Hello everywhere,

I agree with all your comments, I myself had so much trouble with this software. Yesterday I found out that LDSMedia is offering an update (Version 6.1.11), I downloaded and installed it. It seems, that many of the problems are fixed, and many of the suggestions from customers are built in. Some features are still strange and no standard, but at least it is running stable.

User from Germany

Anonymous said...

Hello again,

here is the link for the update, I think its only running with IE

http://www.ldslibrary.com/updates

Greetings from Germany

jonathan said...

Bottom line: good for the casual user, a disaster for the serious....

Like many, I used GospeLink for many years. When the program ceased to work reliably, I tried in vain to find an upgrade path. Early in 2006, with LDSLibrary in hand, I set out to import all my notes from GospeLink. I was disappointed that key features were absent, especially direct access via Folio. Still, I love the content, the search capability, and the ability to annotate.

After several months of building my personal shadow file, LDSLibrary died on me (I don't mean had an exception and shut down -- it does that all the time. It was DOA). I contacted customer support. They spent some time seeing if they could recover the shadow file, or at least discover the source of "corruption." No luck. Their recommendation was that I install the upgrade and rebuild from known good input. You can imagine how disheartening that was.

My annotations and highlights were moved anew into a pristine shadow file. Again, after months of work, the program is irrevokably broken. I have tried multiple times to contact support through multiple channels. I presume they know my email address as they do not respond. The program is useless.

The interface, however poorly designed and frustrating is still usable. One can even learn to deal with the frequent program exceptions by doing frequent saves (though it remains a significant risk to use while teaching ;-). If you plan to import notes, references, or highlights or otherwise plan to use LDSLIbrary in a substantiative way, run away -- this program is unreliable, unusable, unsupported, and unfixable.

If only there were an alternative.

Anonymous said...

The early 90s DOS LDSView, by the Church, is the best! And fast, too.
There are the idiosyncracies of a non-GUI enviroment, of course.

Dan said...

Wouldn't it would be great if DOS LDSView were made public domain - or at least free for the giving away? It contains the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. Giving scriptures away as we do, do we not want to put Gospel study tools in the hands of the whole world? LDSView's only drawback under XP is that processor utilization shoots to 100% for a second when it is actively in use. But there are no delays in search. By the way, DOS WCVLTD, BYU's (now Hamilton Locke's) DOS WordCruncher, is slightly more stable than LDSView, in terms of keeping the text displayed properly.

Justin said...

Yeah, I had the last version of this and it was awful. I was excited when I bought the 2005 version of this thinking it would be an improvement. It is not. I toyed with it for months trying to get it to work but after many clean installs, updates, reinstalls, and conversations with tech support I gave up. Now two years later I saw it on my computer and thought I would search around to see if there was any real fix but alas nothing. I feel totally riped off by this company. Never again LDS Collectors Library.