Dr. Peter Gainsford of Victoria University of Wellington is certainly correct in pointing out that one of the most valuable things a review can do is to draw attention to the product’s pros and cons as compared with its competitors. I agree that a short note on this matter is not enough. Still, this matter was not my primary task. No product for Macs was mentioned because I have never worked with this system and was reviewing the product for Windows. No technical comments were supplied since I possessed no expert knowledge in this field. Dr. Peter Gainsford also wonders what advantages SNS-Greek & Latin offers over the other options available.
Recent remarks by the producers of SNS-Greek & Latin (Carmine Ampolo, Antonella Russo, Anna Santoni) (cf. BMCR 2005.05.13) only confirm my assertion that the SNS-Greek & Latin is among the best commercial products for consulting Classical texts available for both Windows and Macs users. Actually, I personally believe it is the best:
(1) It allows performing the most complicated and remarkably quick searches (I have tried to explain this in my review).
(2) It saves the results of the queries as well as substantial parts of the texts in RTF files.
(3) Moreover, it allows one to view (and save) the results in chronological order, which is very useful (at least for study of doxographic works, which is my primary interest). The last feature along with many searching possibilities is not available elsewhere.
(4) As the producers have already stressed, the fonts used are either free or distributed with the software at no extra cost, along with a special font for metacharacters. The producers also promise to include Unicode support in the next update (I did not know this good news).
(5) Finally, which software has more intuitive interfaces and is easier to use is rather a matter of personal taste and preference. I personally liked the SNS-Greek & Latin interfaces and found it quite easy to use. As far as the price is concerned it appears to be quite justified.
Now let me share my personal experience of working with other tools for accessing the TLG and PHI CD-ROMs.
The Antiquarium is certainly good but (1) rather expensive and (2) requires special (and somewhat exotic) fonts designed by its developers, which is inconvenient.
The Lector (at least in my case) sometimes stops in the middle of long searches and also works with the only one type of font. By the way, its price is also higher than SNS-Greek & Latin. Readers will find additional information in the reviews of these products referred to in note 2 of my original review (BMCR 2005.04.41).
I also like Diogenes and would warmly recommend it to everybody.
The TLG’s own web interface is certainly wonderful and features plenty of new texts not included in the TLG but it requires a good internet connection.
As far as Unicode support is concerned I am not sure that this is the matter of crucial importance. Firstly, the Unicode fonts, perfect for internet publications, are rather ugly when printed out. Therefore publishers often prefer other Greek fonts, often incompatible with any existing software for consulting the TLG CD ROM’s. Secondly, in case of special need the Unicode supporting software (Diogenes, for instance) is free and available for both PC and Mac users. Finally, this problem will soon be solved by the SNS developers.
To sum up, I have personally found SNS-Greek & Latin 1.0 for Windows very good and convenient, and I am happy with the fact that researchers may freely choose among so many different — and excellent — free and commercial tools for working with the TLG and PHI CD-ROMs. Is not that wonderful?
[[For a response to this response by Sergey N. Lebedev, please see BMCR 2005.10.02.]]