Sunday, July 26, 2015

Greek Fonts, Free "Productivity" Apps, and Other Trivialities


I recently went looking for recommendations on the “nicest Greek font,” stating my own preference for Gentium. Of the 3 responses to my query on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook, two commended SBL Greek, the other mentioned Cardo, a font created by David J. Parry. The results are not surprising: I suspect SBL Greek and Cardo are the two main alternatives to Gentium in use today by the small percentage of the world's population that thinks about polytonic Greek Unicode fonts. In the image below, I present the same text in all three fonts, along with GFS Elpis, which Mark Hoffman mentioned a few years ago, and I quite like:
These are all excellent Greek fonts. I expect there is nothing to complain about from a technical perspective, and I suppose one’s aesthetic judgement comes down to personal preference rather than any intrinsic merit. A couple comments:
  •  Cardo is my font of choice for PowerPoint presentations: As Mark Hoffman explains, Cardo is "kind of a 'big' font (the characters are wider than usual and have a high x-height), so it works well in projection." 
  •  A lot of people, including Mark, prefer SBL Greek for other uses, but I find it too curvy to my taste, especially when paired with a standard English font such as Times New Roman. I took another look, but came away still preferring Gentium. (Gentium has been upgraded to Gentium Plus. My only hesitation with the Plus version is the wider line-spacing.)

OliveTree for Windows

OliveTree has just come out with a major upgrade that radically improves their free app on the Windows platform. OliveTree is not (yet) in the same league with the big 3 Bible software programs (Accordance, Bibleworks, and Logos), but over the last few years I have gradually acquired morphologically-tagged copies of BHS, the LXX and NA28, including critical apparatuses, for OliveTree, as well as a few other secondary resources. Here's why: (1) OliveTree works and displays original-language texts beautifully on just about every platform. (I originally got into OliveTree because it was the only app that displayed Hebrew and Greek well on my Blackberry Playbook.*) (2) OliveTree regularly offers 50%-off sales that literally can't be beat. There is one on now. So if you want access to morphologically-tagged original-language texts on your phone or tablet, you should check out OliveTree. (You can also perform morphological searches on some platforms, at least.) If the text of the Hebrew Bible and Greek New Testament is all you want, free versions are also available (here and here).

*An exception is the latest update for Android, which does not (yet) work well at all on my older Android device. Fortunately, an earlier version that works (but doesn't display the BHS or LXX critical apparatus) is still available.


If you have a pen-enabled touch-screen Windows or Mac device, and you have ever wanted to be able to brainstorm on an infinite (and scaleable) canvas, you should try the free version of Mischief:

Note: The scaleable, prezi-like infinite canvas, is very different from OneNote and, if I recall, Scapple, which start you in the top left quadrant. Since I am no artist, the only thing missing, from my perspective, is the ability to enter text. HT: Surface Blog

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