A Layman’s Comparison of
Deseret Book’s GospeLink product
InfoBases’ Collector’s Library ’98

This is a cursory comparison, not intended to be complete, and the writer's personal preferences are reflected. We all want the best, most useful product. Rarely will one product in a competitive market place offer all the best choices, the best look and feel, the most versatility, etc., etc. It appears in this comparison that the rule holds true here as well.

It is not intended that this comparison be used for other than personal interest. The potential purchaser of either of these products should use his or her own judgement as to which or both products to buy. At most, use this comparison as a starting point to explore both products, confirming (or refuting) the observations and conclusions drawn here for yourself.

That stated, the writer has considerable experience with software of all types and tends to look at things from the "power user" point of view. Casual users may have different opinions, but any user who is serious about using either of these tools for study, for background material in talks, or for general "exploring" of the material, will want a product that is easy to navigate through, easy to find the desired data, and is pleasant to use. A product that can through its look and feel actually make a contribution to the study process is very desirable.

I installed both of these products on two computers, neither of which is a state-of-the-art "screamer" by any stretch. One is a clone PC, Pentium 166 with 32 megs of RAM, a good video card, etc. The other is a Dell notebook, P-133, with 32 megs of RAM.

The InfoBases products have been in the market place for several years, where the Deseret Book product is "first edition new." This would imply that InfoBases has had several years to learn and improve while Deseret Book is making their first offering. Of course, it might also be said that Deseret Book has the advantage of being able to look at the evolution of InfoBases products and benefit from their competitor's learning curve. In any event, it is impossible to look at one product without making comparisons to the other, and that is the intent of this little monogram.

We'll look at both products by employing a number of categories by means of which comparisons can be made.

I found installation of InfoBases Gospel Library ("IBGL") to be easier and shorter than that of Deseret Book's Gospel Link ("DBGL"). The Deseret Book folks have a very nice install utility, but they have a few kinks to work out. For example, when installing the "bonus quotes" section of DBGL, you're asked where you want to install it. You can tell the install shield to install wherever you like, but it just ignores you and goes ahead, putting the quotes program where it pleases, as if you provided no input at all.

I installed both IBGL and DBGL on my D: drive, due to available space considerations. IBGL had no problem. DBGL, as stated, didn't know what to do with the bonus title install. As a result, I had to move the six files in the bonus install manually to the same drive and folder as the main install. Doing so overwrites the INSTALL.LOG in the main directory and has the potential of causing other problems down the road. The only other option might be to edit the Registry so DBGL will know where to look for the bonus quotes application. Incidentally, the LDS authors quotes application is excellent. More on that later.

Bottom Line: IBGL installs a little easier, and takes less than half of the time to install. However, the install utility that DBGL uses is a little more versatile and friendly, and if they can get the kinks worked out, it could end up being better. But not yet.

Size (disk space taken):
There is no contest here. IBGL takes up considerably less space. While both products end up putting some additional .DLL's and other files in your Windows directories (from 5 to 10 megs worth!), DBGL in it's most "frugal" installation mode added something over 100 megs on one computer I installed it on, while it used something over 80 megs on my other machine. I can't at this time explain why it took so much more space on one computer than the other. Compare this to the about 47 megs that IBGL took on both machines. DBGL does install the scriptures in your hard drive, which makes it possible for you to search study the scriptures alone without any CD in the drive.

You could argue that hard drive space is cheap these days, and you'd be right. But this is a product being focused at the "average user," one would hope, and for some folks it's hard to come up with an extra 100 megs.

Many large applications (word processors, spread sheet programs, even games) offer the option of small installations on the hard drive, at the sacrifice of a little speed in program or data access. This is an option both of these companies might want to consider, especially DBGL.

Bottom line: DBGL is the bigger space hog.

It's not the intent of this comparison to do a detailed look at the content of either package. Suffice it to say that they both offer some things unique to the individual applications. I personally think it is "pure marketing" to compare the number of titles available in each. This can lead to "how you count" kinds of games. And it also can lead to the inclusion of various things that are there for no reason other than to help inflate the title count.

Both products have much of what you would expect the basics to include, and both products have a lot to offer in the titles that are particular to each. As would be expected, the Deseret Book product has some exclusive titles that are DB's own, and the InfoBases product has some other that are Bookcraft's own. Of course, most all of the public domain sources are included in both. Wouldn't it be great to have one engine that would read both in a user friendly way? Yes, but that's too much to ask.

Bottom line: Both DBGL and IBGL have very impressive lists of titles, most all of the public domain ones in common. Each has a lot to offer with special titles.

Look and Feel:
From my way of looking at it, the Deseret Book product comes out a little better here. The graphic look is cleaner and not as visually dark as the InfoBases product. In later releases of IBGL it is possible to remove the background "textures" from the screen (before which time I would not even think of running it). Also, the later releases of IBGL allow much better viewing by selecting predefined window sizes that either remove or de-emphasize some of the less important windows so you can actually READ text. I think that represents an effort in IB's part to meet some customer requests (demands?).

DB has gone one better by not only allowing some predefined window and viewing templates, but also allowing the user to resize the windows to suit the particular needs of the moment. Very nice. And, as said, the look and feel is not as "dark" as the IB product, which makes for a friendlier feel.

While both packages would prefer you to use 16 or 32 bit color (high color or "true" color), DB's product almost requires it. Look at the IB product in 256 color and it's just fine. Look at the DBGL and you know you're missing something when viewing with 256 colors. You can even miss some buttons and other controls on the DB product; they seem to come and go depending on where your mouse is, what you're doing, etc., when viewing with 256 colors. My Dell notebook (Latitude LM) is only a year old, but it doesn't allow more than 256 colors when in 600 x 800 resolution, so I'm stuck with poor graphics when using DBGL on that machine.

Bottom line: The DB product has lighter, friendlier graphics, is easier to look at, but penalizes you if you are using 256 colors (they don't mislead you on the colors though; they tell you that 16 bit color is needed).

No contest here. Though speed is relative and a faster Pentium with more RAM might make both products run quicker, DBGL is definitely at a bit of a disadvantage in the speed department. It is slower (application opening time, going from screen to screen, searching, etc.) Even with my fastest machine (admittedly not a speedy one by today's standards), the DB product drags along at screen-change and search speeds slow enough to be a little frustrating.

One would think that the relative speeds of the two products ought to be closer. They both use the same Folios engine. And one might even argue that the DB product should be faster, since it puts more "stuff" on your hard drive. But that is clearly not the case.

I thought I might be doing something wrong, so I called DB's Tech Support and asked. When I observed that DBGL was quite a bit slower, the young man I spoke with agreed that my observation was correct.

As an example, DB takes 56 seconds from clicking on the start icon to completely opening the main screen, and takes 17 seconds to complete a simple search on 3 words (fiends, infernal, pit). IB takes 12 seconds to come completely up and 3 seconds to do an advanced search on the same words.

Bottom line: IB's is much faster, especially at moderate computer processor speeds like mine. Note: DB's tech support people assure me that the improving the basic speed of the product is one of their "top priorities."

GUI (Graphical User Interface):
This category can spill over into "look and feel," but my take on GUI is that it's more feel than look, while look and feel is, well, more look than feel. In the GUI department DB is the winner for me. The layout of the screen is more functional and intuitive, and the choices at any given point in the program are more obvious. For a first time user, I think the DB product would be easier to learn and offer more flexibility. For the experienced user it is still a little easier to get around in. That's a big plus.

Bottom line: GUI on the DBGL is better.

For many people, searching will be the heart of what goes on with either program. In general, IBGL wins as it stands now.

IB offers two search levels, simple and advanced. Both levels are done within the IBGL program. DB offers only one level of search within it's program. The IB simple search is just that; simple. But the advanced level is quite powerful and still very easy to use. DB's single search function is considerably more powerful than IB's simple search, but has glaring omissions when compared to IB's advanced search.

DBGL does has an advanced search function (available from a right-click pop-up menu), but this function jumps to a Folios window and is not at all simple to use (you need to learn at least a few boolean search terms), not as versatile in terms of defining the search area (you can't use search sets), and not intuitive. It is, however, fast.

Both products offer their versions of search sets, and they both work quite well. No problem there. I think Deseret Book's predefined search sets are better (or at least there are more of them). DB's search set manager is easier to use. The one major weakness in DB's search sets is that you can't include (or exclude) the various parts of the scriptures in your search sets. It seems odd that you can't select, for example, just the New Testament to include in a custom search set. Their tech support people tell me that they are working to include this in a future update.

But DB's simple search (the one that most people will use) has two main disadvantages in my opinion. First, as mentioned, the searching, like everything else, is slower. But more importantly, DB, in its "simple search," (again, what most folks are going to use) leaves out one important element (I called their tech support people in the hopes that I had somehow missed this element, but they said I hadn't missed anything at all). It's this: When defining a search by entering search words, DBGL doesn't let you see the number of "hits" you're finding. That's a big negative, and since both products are using essentially the same Folios engine, this lack of "hits information" has to be an omission on DB's part.

What I mean by not showing you the hits is this: Say you want to find the original quote in Parley P. Pratt's biography where he recounts Joseph in the jail at Richmond, MO, rebuking the guards and calling them "fiends of the infernal pit." With both products, I'll select a search of the entire database available. I'll type in the word "fiends." The IBGL product then informs me that I have 143 hits, or, there are 143 references where the word "fiends" appears. Then, following "fiends", I'll type in "infernal." Again, IBGL tells me I now have 30 hits. In other words, the combination of "fiends" and "infernal" occurring within a few words of each other appears in the entire database only 30 times. With the IB product I can tell that I am narrowing the search. With the DB product, which is not showing me hits as I type words in, I have no idea whether or by how much I am narrowing the search. Finally, I'll type in "pit." IBGL now tells me I have only 25 hits. I'll execute the search by clicking on the "Search" button, and the first instance of this hit is shown on screen almost as my finger comes off the mouse button. Executing the search on DBGL just starts the search. I now have to wait (and watch a little window pop up that says "searching") for a lengthy search to be made before the actual text window comes up with the first hit. It is only then that I see how many hits occurred, and which hit I'm viewing. While the DB product does show me a window with a line-listing of the hits, I have had to wait along time to see it, and I didn't enjoy the advantage of being able to knowingly narrow down my search. To anyone who uses the search tools, this is a large disadvantage.

IB also gives you one more "qualifying field," but in practice, being able to enter words which must NOT be in the search isn't something that I often use.

One thing I wish IB would do is allow you to conduct a search, find your results, then go back to the search window and pick up where you left off. You can't do this with IB. With DB's advanced search (again, they toggle over to Folios for this), you have a hit counter and the ability to easily recall what your last several searches were, but the search itself is harder to use and not as versatile in that you can't apply a search set (as you can in IB). DB's simple search also allows you to recall the parameters of several of the most recent searches. That's a very powerful tool.

Late note: One search feature that isn't very well documented in DBGL can help speed up and refine searching. Using DB's very speedy "advanced search" (this is the Folios search, not integrated into the actual DBGL searching), you can't use search sets but you can narrow down your searching in a different way. Selecting which window (scriptures, general authorities, other LDS authors, etc.) you want to search, maximize the size of that window. This process opens up a "tree"window that allows you to see a complete list of authors and titles for that section. By clicking on various of the authors and/or titles and then selecting "checked branches" in the advanced search, you can apply a search -with hit counter- to only those authors and titles you have selected. That's not as good as a pre-defined or user-defined search set, but it's something!

Bottom line: IB has an advanced search function this is a part of their application (DB has only one level of search as part of theirs). IB's easy-to-use advanced search provides a hit counter and is very powerful. Going to DB's advanced search takes you to Folios; the Folios advanced search is very fast and has a hit counter, but is not as versatile and is somewhat less friendly. DB's simple search, though slow, allows you to recall your several most recent sets of search parameters and offers search selections that make it powerful.

Two windows on screen, different items in each:
If you want to put up two different things at the same time on your screen, DBGL wins the prize. IBGL has some of this function available, but DBGL really makes creative use of it. With DBGL you can put either the KJV or the Joseph Smith translation up in one window, and put any other book or study material up in the second window. That's really a powerful study tool. Read any book and have the scriptures up along side at the same time. Moreover, you can click anywhere in the scriptures you're reading and see cross references to those scriptures in another window (both products do this, but I think the DB product is the better of the two).

One powerful tool the DBGL provides is the ability to put up the KJV on one side of the screen and the Joseph Smith version on the other side, and then "synchronize" them so that as you scroll in the one version, the other is sync'd or locked with it. You can do some interesting studying and comparing in that way. Very impressive.

Bottom line: For comparative viewing, especially between the KJV and the Joseph Smith version, DBGL is the choice.

Composing with a word processor:
Each product has it's own set of advantages in this area. Each product allows you to print selected text, etc. But with IBGL you can choose which word processor (must be installed as a separate application on your PC) you prefer and have that automatically open when you want to bring text over for printing or writing. With DBGL you can select text, and bring it to your own word processor, but not automatically. However, DBGL has a fairly useful word processor ("composer") built in, so if you don't have a favorite word processor you don't have to leave the program to write your talk or print your text. DBGL also provides a "pre print" function which allows you to gather all your selected sections and quotes in one place and then be able to very easily rearrange the order and content before sending them to the print program or to your own, personal word processor.

Bottom line: Both products offer good ways to write and print. DB's is easy and versatile; IB's has more flexibility with regard to external word processing applications.

In three feature areas, I think DBGL clearly is the better choice.

  1. 1. DBGL offers 12 "high lighters," IBGL offers 6. With the ability to highlight text (much like light underlining or highlighting text in your scriptures or other books), you can create more categories of highlighted text in the standard package with DB's product. For those who highlight, this could have been a big advantage for DB, but they didn't complete the function very well. DB doesn't let you name the high lighters. If you want to try to remember what 12 colors each mean in your highlighting system, have at it. The simple ability to rename a high lighter from "yellow" to "Basics," or "My Favorites," or "Repentance," etc., would complete this feature and make it a real advantage. (DB says that will be one of the first things they do in an update.)
  2. 2. DBGL's GospelLink Explorer is marvelous. As a study tool, or just for light reading on a subject, the GL Explorer allows you to cover a lot of ground very efficiently and quickly. It's a great tool.
  3. 3. DBGL's "Virtual Encyclopedia" is another powerful tool. With a broader view (pulling more reference material into play) than IB's presentation of Encyclopedia of Mormonism. The Virtual Encyclopedia helps you learn about one subject or topic very quickly.

Bottom line: DBGL probably gives you more "state of the art" tools for looking up topics and learning about them, and for marking down and saving areas of interest (with exception of not being able to name the high lighters yet).

Storage Media:
IBGL comes on 4 CD's, DBGL on three. Discounting the one install and utility disk for both products, you end up with 3 CD's on IB's product and 2 CD's on DB's product. IBGL has lots more "media related" things such as pictures, graphics, maps, music, etc. They take a separate CD just for that. DBGL, while not concentrating on the media related items, offers a much smoother means of transitioning between the CD's as you need to change them. All of the General Authorities and LDS Authors are on one CD, while the LDS periodicals and all of the "classics" are on the other. IBGL's scriptures and LDS topics are on one CD, the media related items or on the 2nd CD, and the classics are on the 3rd. (With IBGL, you don't have to install the indexes for the classics and graphic items if you don't want to. DBGL gives you no choice.)

Bottom line: If you're going to be dipping into classics and other non-specific LDS things, you can navigate between disks more easily with the DB product. The IB product has more pictures, maps and music.

Special features:
One special feature in the DBGL, which is treated as a bonus (you get the "key" to using it when you register the product), is the "LDS Quotation Library." This stand-alone application is very useful if you want to see what General Authorities and others have said on a variety of subjects. These are pre-excerpted quotes by people you'd probably feel quite comfortable quoting in a church talk or a report, arranged for topical access. It's a very nice little product all by itself.

Bottom line: Both products have some nice extra features, but this one in DBGL stands out as exceptional.

Features needed or missing:
The "old" IB CL97 gave the user the power of creating pop-up links and hyper links from one place in the scriptures to another. This was a very powerful feature. Neither IBGL or DBGL contain that feature. I'm told that IBGL tried to put that feature in, but there were reliability problems with this feature and the new Folios engine. I'm also told that they think this is an important feature and are aiming to put it back in. I don't know what DB is planning to do. Either (or both) package would be more powerful if this were in it.

Bottom line: Here's an area where some very visible improvement could be had.

Palm Pilot users:
If you are a Palm Pilot user, take note that the IBGL product does a much better job. IB gives you a separate, dedicated "Reader" application that runs on your Pilot. You can install from a fairly large library of pre-formatted books (all of the scriptures included, plus many books) onto your Pilot, and then the Pilot reader application lets you navigate and search the material you've installed very easily and intuitively. DBGL ships with AportisDoc, as very nice reader application for the Pilot, but bringing over text from DBGL is not as easy as with IBGL, and AportisDoc doesn't let you navigate nearly as easily as does the "Reader" application with IBGL.

Bottom line: If you use a Palm Pilot the package that IBGL supplies is so much better as to make comparison meaningless.

Conflicts with other software:
As I write this (Jan '99) there is one minor conflict that DBGL has with WordPerfect. Installing DBGL puts a file (MFC32.DLL) in your \\windows\system directory that is a newer version than the one WordPerfect (ver 8) expects to see. The DBGL install overwrites any pervious version that was there. The newer .DLL installed by DBGL effectively disables the template function in WordPerfect, as well as causing a few minor problems with Corel system-tray application manager, DAD.

DBGL has a yet-newer version of MFC32.DLL which they make available to any interested user (and may by now be shipping on the product CDs) that corrects the problem with WordPerfect templates. As of this moment, however, there is still the DAD conflict. This conflict is the only one I know of, and will only affect WordPerfect users who use templates.

Conflict fix: The simple work around solution to this conflict problem is to: a) before installing DBGL make a copy of and rename MFC32.DLL (I'd rename it MFC32.OLD). Then install DBGL. b) After installing DBGL, move the new MFC32.DLL from the \\windows\system directory to the directory from which you run DBGL. c) Then recopy the MFC32.OLD file back into the \\windows\system directory, re-renaming it to MFC32.DLL. WordPerfect will see the .DLL it needs in the \\windows\system directory, and DBGL will find the file it needs in its main directory.

Conflicts like this occur from time to time with new software, and most software providers make attempts to work these things out. I'm sure DB will have this fixed before long.

Personal Conclusions:
There will be champions for both products. Notwithstanding the large amount of disk space, I'll run both products on my machine for now.

If I had to choose only one product right now, the choice would be very difficult. I vacillate back and forth, depending on what I'm doing and how I feel at the moment. I think I like much of DBGL better, but the price you have to pay in lack of speed and in much less efficient searching is a big a price to pay. If DB can figure out how to make their application run faster (IB made large improvements in their second release so DB could, as well), and put a hits counter in their basic search function, then I think the nod would go to DBGL.

Watching both of these products as they put out their next versions will be very enlightening. In the meantime, I'll continue to play with both.

Bill Raventos
Pleasant Grove, Utah

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