Living Islam Today
A Magazine for Muslim Americans
Vol. 1 Issue 1               Spring 1420/ 2000

Software Review

IFNA

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate Source of All Mercy.

Alim 6.0: Is it worth the hype?

Screen Shots from the Alim 6.0

     What can be said about the computer program that revolutionized the way Muslims can gather information about Islam?  A lot. What kind of improvements have been made to said program?  Many.  Are these improvements worth while?  Let's see.
     Upon first glance at the opening screen it's clear that there have been major changes since the previous version of The Alim.  Capitalizing on the latest interface, The Alim has the look of a web page.  At the top, there are handy buttons that will guide you through the specifics of the program while the bottom menu allows you to choose a particular topic to investigate. There are some solid additions made to the program.  When you start to navigate your way through the program, you'll see the many enhancements that ISL has made.
     The division of topics at the bottom of the opening page allows the user to quickly focus on the particular source that he or she wants to peruse. Once a selection is chosen there is a helpful bar that appears on the left hand side of the screen.  This allows the person to specify their search even more.  While it can get a little cluttered on the screen, you do have the option to close any unwanted windows.  
     One interesting feature is the ability to actually change the fonts on the screen.  Now, this may not sound important to some, but imagine being able to increase the font size so that those with poor vision can read and learn information from The Alim as well!  The information, by the way, that is offered is very detailed.  You can even customize your search to focus on either hadith, Qur'an, biography or just have a holistic search, but it doesn't stop there.
     A wonderful feature in The Alim is its multi-media support.  Picture it, you're giving a presentation for a class, and you have your laptop connected to a television.  With just a few clicks you are able to have a professional looking media production with topics that range from equality in Islam to Muslim contribution in science.  There are about 30 film shorts in total.  Each one captures a certain essence from the Islamic way of life.
     All and all, however, even the best of programs will have some short comings.  While version 6.0 is chock full of bars and menus, I found the previous version a bit easier to navigate.  I sometimes felt that the screen was getting a bit too cluttered for my taste.  Another advancement that I wish was available would be the capability to place The Alim on the hard drive.  While speaking to a representative at a recent convention, I had brought up that question.  I was told that if you were to load The Alim onto your hard drive you "might" crash your system.  One of their tech's did not recommend this procedure.  I bring this point up because for all of its information The Alim lacks one main thing: ease of access.
     I couldn't help but think that it would just be easier to get the Qur'an or a good Hadith book than turn on my computer, pop in the CD, wait for it to load up the information and search through the complicated menus. Having the ease of just being able to access the hard drive would cut out a few steps. In the end, however, The Alim was not meant to be a tool to just glance through; it was meant to be a research tool.  In this genre it does wonders.
     While other similar programs have come and gone The Alim has been able to stay at the top of its form because it constantly wants to improve itself.  Multi-media, clear Qur'anic recitation, internet access, on-line Islamic dictionary, ready made internet bookmarks for Islamic organizations, and much, much more.
     Be it the home, a school library or a Masjid's media center, The Alim will greatly enhance any vehicle for the advancement of Islamic knowledge.           

www.Alim.org


opening page screen shot


Qur'an screen shot


Hadith screen shot


multi-media screen shot

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