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Archive for the ‘iPad’ Category

PocketBible and iOS 7

Posted on: September 20th, 2013 by Craig Rairdin 62 Comments

This week brings the release of iOS 7 from Apple. As this new version of the operating system rolls out to more and more devices we’re beginning to hear from you about what’s working and what’s not. I want to take a minute to tell you how to work around the one problem we know about, then tell you what we’re doing to fix that, then tell you what I think about all this. Since that flows from absolutely important to “who cares?”, you can stop reading as soon as your questions are answered.

“Go To Verse” on the iPad

iOS 7 removed a feature of “popover views” (the box that pops up out of the toolbar to show you our “go to verse” buttons) that allowed developers to specify the size of the contents they were putting in the view if that size changes after the initial contents are placed. As a result, after you choose a book, the view gets resized to its default size, and the chapter buttons get cut off.

There are two work-arounds for this:

  • Press the button in the upper left corner to go back to the list of books and choose your book again. This little bit of magic seems to break Apple’s concentration and they quit trying to resize the view.
  • Choose a different go-to method for the time being. To do this, go to the Settings menu, scroll down to Program Settings, and choose a different Bible Verse Selection method. There are two other than the book/chapter/verse buttons that are the default: The Calculator method and the Spinner method. Of the two, the spinner is the easiest to use and is less quirky. Choose the Spinner and work your way out of the Settings menu. Next time you choose Go To, you’ll see the Spinner instead of the buttons.

There are other small cosmetic issues you may or may not notice as you use the program. We don’t know of anything that affects the actual function or usability of the program beyond the one mentioned above.

What We’re Doing About It

While developers have had access to beta versions of the iOS 7 developer’s toolkit for several months, we’ve found in the past that you can waste a lot of time chasing the changing specifications of the new version of the operating system if you start your work too early. For iOS 6, many developers were stunned to discover the apps they developed and uploaded to the App Store using the final beta version (which was approved by Apple for submission to the App Store) did not function correctly on the final released version of iOS 6. They had to scramble to make changes. So with all this in mind, and after reviewing the new features in iOS 7, we decided to wait until we had a version of the developer’s toolkit that was closer to final.

We’re working on version 3.0 of PocketBible, which will be fully iOS 7 compatible. Most of the changes we have to make are user interface related. That is, tweaking colors and behavior of the UI to match the new, flat look of iOS 7. There are several new features in PocketBible 3, but these have been in beta for a few weeks now and are in pretty good shape. In particular:

  • Advanced Feature Set – New Features
    • Journal Notes allow you to take notes that are not associated with any particular Bible verse.
    • Assign names to your highlight colors.
  • Features in the Standard (Free) Version
    • Autosync feature allows you to synchronize your user data (notes, highlights, bookmarks, etc.) with the Laridian cloud automatically in the background while you continue to work. Manual sync is still available if you prefer.
    • Synchronization speed is improved.
    • Added underline styles (underline, dotted, and dashed) to the list of highlight choices.
    • Display one verse per paragraph (start each verse on a new line).
    • Support iOS swipe gestures to delete notes, highlights, bookmarks, etc. from lists of those items.
    • When deleting a bookmark category, the bookmarks themselves are deleted (instead of being moved to “uncategorized”
    • Added “Email Passage” and “Text Passage” to the list of “Passage Actions”.
    • Various speed improvements and minor bug fixes.

This version of PocketBible will be uploaded to the App Store soon. We’re still working through all the issues brought about by the release of iOS 7. In the meantime, the only thing you really need to do is change your go-to-verse method.

So What Do We Think About All This

One of the frustrations with our industry as a whole and Apple in particular is the pace at which it changes. Most of the changes in iOS 7 that affect us are cosmetic. Apple has decided that it’s their user interface, not their limited availability and high price, that negatively impacts their sales. So they spent a lot of time turning everything flat, gray, and translucent. Many of those changes are applied to programs automatically, but not all of them are implemented well.

For example, in the intrest of transparency, the system status bar (the signal strength indicator and clock across the top) is now transparent. That’s great, but our app is used to a solid status bar and would never bother to put anything behind it. Now, since that bar is transparent, the OS tells us it isn’t there and tricks us into writing under it. So when the status bar is laid over top, it just is unreadable since it’s either black or white text on top of a white page of black text. So we had to take the time to create a little colored rectangle to put under the status bar so you can see it.

While changing the look of table views (those lists of contacts, appointments, settings, etc. that you see all over iOS), they decided the headings between groups of choices should ALWAYS BE UPPER CASE. So it looks like THE PHONE IS YELLING AT YOU all the time. Furthermore, they limited the text to six lines without documenting the limit nor truncating the text. So it’s possible for text to flow over the list items. This would be fine if they provided a way to say DON’T YELL AT ME but they didn’t. So we had to implement custom text views to put in those locations.

This is all characteristic of a philosophy that has little sense of history or the importance of supporting existing apps, existing versions of the OS, or existing hardware. For example, PocketBible 3 will be compatible with iOS 5 devices, but you won’t find much, if any, mention of iOS 5 from Apple. I know people running iOS 4 and 5 who just never bother to plug their device into their PC/Mac to download updates. It’s working for them, so why bother? I’m typing this blog article on a PC running Windows XP. It works great. Why upgrade? Apple doesn’t understand this idea. They assume everyone rushes out and buys a new phone every year or two, or they at least upgrade the operating system every time an update is available.

As a result of this blindness to the past, it’s not unusual to discover that something is broken in the OS and it’s just never going to get fixed. For example, we depend on a particular method being called (viewWillDisappear:) when one of our “dialog boxes” is dismissed. I found out yesterday that iOS 7 breaks that rule (it’s been around since version 2) in certain cases. As a result, instead of one programmer at Apple fixing one bug, it creates millions of bugs in hundreds of thousands of apps, and each of those hundreds of thousands of programmers has to take an hour or two to figure out how to work around it. Apple doesn’t care because programmers who start programming new apps tomorrow will never know any differenc and will always code as if viewWillDisappear: won’t always be called, and they are the only ones who matter.

It’s as if Apple has incubation pods where they harvest new programmers. They pull them out of their drawer and they start writing code with no sense of what came before. A year later, after working 24×7 with no sleep, they are recycled to feed the next batch, which are harvested just in time to release the next unnecessary update to the operating system.

Anyway…

We’re still in the process of making changes, but this is just a couple little things we’ve run into in the process of moving PocketBible to iOS 7. We think you’ll like PocketBible 3 when we’re done, but it’s going to take a couple more weeks to get there. In the meantime, change your go-to-verse settings and 2.0.6 will continue to work fine.

Serendipitous Programming

Posted on: July 27th, 2013 by Craig Rairdin 6 Comments

Today I’ve been working on a new feature for PocketBible for iOS and one thing led to another, and, well, I ended up implementing a feature I didn’t know I was working on, and didn’t realize how much of it was already sitting there, waiting to be exposed to the user.

So the new feature I thought I was working on is the ability to “rename” your highlight colors. That is, you’ll be able to assign a topic to each color. Then when you highlight a verse, instead of seeing a list containing “Khaki”, “Cornflower Blue” and “Hot Pink”, you’ll see “Salvation”, “God’s Love” and “Prophecy”. We’ve been wanting to implement this for a long time. While we were upgrading our cloud synchronization protocol over the last few months, I added the ability to sync highlight color names with the server and we took advantage of that in PocketBible for Windows Phone and Windows Store. The plan has always been to roll that into other platforms as we have the opportunity.

While looking through the code that shows you your list of highlight colors (which I’ll have to modify to show you your user-defined names for those colors) I stumbled into a bit of code that Jeff wrote years ago but then “commented out”. (If we have code that we’d like to retain for reference purposes but don’t want to actually have the computer execute, we turn the code into a “comment” so it will be ignored by the compiler but still be there if we want to see it.)

Those of you who have been with us for a while know that Jeff was my programming partner for 27 years before his death from cancer in May 2012. It’s been a bittersweet year as I’ve had to deal with his passing while surrounded and immersed every day in code that he wrote. I keep running into little things that remind me of him, make me want to give him a call to talk about a problem, or give me a chuckle. So it’s always interesting when I run into a piece of code like this.

What this particular piece of code did was add three additional highlighting styles to the list of colors you can highlight with. These are “underline”, “strikeout”, and “underline+strikeout”. Those look like this, this, and this, respectively.

Now, why would you ever want to strike out a verse? That’s a good question and takes me back fifteen years to the days of the Palm operating system when cameras were cameras, phones were phones, and “portable digital assistants” were all the rage. In those days, color displays were luxuries that cost money, size, weight, and battery life. So most of those devices had monochromatic screens.

On color screens, we could highlight a verse with a background color. But what could we do on these black and white screens? Since our text was coded in HTML, and since HTML offered simple styles like bold, italics, underline, and strikeout, we decided to use those. We ended up not using bold and italics because they could cause the text to re-wrap when they were applied, and in those days of wimpy processors, it just took too long and was disturbing to see. That left us with underline and strikeout, so that’s what we used.

As time has gone on, we’ve gotten to where we don’t even include these underline and strikeout highlighting styles in our programs. They’re not in PocketBible for iOS, and we weren’t planning on implementing them in PocketBible for Android. Unfortunately, some of you who were around back then and have sync’ed your highlights from your Palm PDA to PocketBible for Windows to our server and to PocketBible for iPhone expect to see those underlines. So we have to at least be able to display them if they exist, but we don’t let you create them (because we don’t want to proliferate a bad idea).

What I discovered today was Jeff’s original code for being able to create underline, strikeout, and underline+strikeout highlights in PocketBible for iOS. His comment said he had taken them out because the display engine (my code) didn’t support them. Sometime between then and now I implemented those highlight styles but we just never went back into Jeff’s code and turned those choices on.

On a whim, I enabled those lines of code and what do you know — they worked! That put me in the awkward position of trying to decide whether or not to leave them in. I never liked the idea of striking verses from the Bible, and even once you get over that, it makes the text hard to read.

About then it was time for dinner and I set the laptop aside to meet my wife and get something to eat. On the way there it occurred to me that we now have some better styling options that we had back in 1998. New versions of HTML with CSS support dotted and dashed underlines.

When I got home I spent about 30 minutes and implemented the styles you see here. These new styles replace the old styles rather than adding to them. So where you had strikeouts, you’ll have dotted underlines. And where you had strikeout+underline, you’ll have dashed underlines. I think this is a nice way of making your legacy data from your Palm days more usable and it gives you three more highlighting styles to use in PocketBible for iOS. (If you’re having trouble making out the dots and dashes, click on the screen shot to see the original size image.)

One of the cool things about this is that the underlying data storage and cloud synchronization already supports it. We’re not changing the data we save, but rather the interpretation of the data. So nothing changes in any of the other platforms nor on the server.

What I think is special about this — even though it’s not a life-changing feature — is that Jeff left it behind and it only took a little extra work to make it useful. And I like that all the infrastructure both for storing the new highlight styles and displaying them was already there.

Tomorrow I’ll get back to work on naming your highlight colors. But this was a nice little one or two hour detour to give us an unexpected new feature in PocketBible.

PocketBible 2.0.6 Available on the App Store

Posted on: October 31st, 2012 by Craig Rairdin 14 Comments

We’ve just been notified that our latest update to PocketBible (version 2.0.6) has been approved by Apple. It should become available in the App Store over the next 24 hours.

We apologize for the delay getting our iOS6-compatibility fixes into PocketBible. We ran into a couple of issues getting our update past the Apple approval process. In the end, being forced to address those issues caused us to find a couple tricky bugs that wouldn’t have turned up otherwise. But the whole process ended up taking longer than we wanted.

The complete list of new features and bug fixes is below, but a couple are worth highlighting. First, this version adds support for the Greek New Testament. You should find the SBL Greek New Testament in your list of downloadable books in “Add/Remove Books”. There are instructions in the built-in Help for enabling the Greek keyboard so that you can do searches in Greek.

Several bugs introduced in iOS 6 have been circumvented. In particular, you may have noticed PocketBible would only read the first verse on the screen to you when you asked it to start reading. This has been fixed. And it’s not really a bug, but PocketBible will now take advantage of the full height of the screen on the iPhone 5. (This wouldn’t have been a problem except that Apple “lies” to our app when we request the size of the iPhone 5 screen, apparently to maintain compatibility with apps that aren’t as clever as PocketBible by making them think they’re running on an older device.)

I believe we’ve finally fixed the problem of books and voices disappearing when memory runs low. Apple changed the way they do this a couple of times over the last year or so and kept defeating our efforts to preserve our files. We think we have it figured out now.

Finally, PocketBible now requires at least iOS 5. The latest version of the development tools only produces ARMv7 binaries and there are no ARMv7 devices that don’t support iOS 5. We’d like to support older versions of the operating system, but we’re limited by what the development tools support.

 

What’s new in this version?

  • Support for the SBL Greek New Testament including display, searching and copy/paste.
  • Added “Find Selection” to the Selection menu. Rearranged the Selection and Context menus to put more frequently used items closer to the top.
  • iOS 6 compatiblity including:
    • Fixed a bug where PocketBible would stop after one verse when speaking the text
    • Addressed rotation issues
    • Added 4″ Retina launch image and support for the full height of the new iPhone 5 screen
  • Bug fixes including
    • Fixed a bug in certain books with images where they did not appear when “shrink to fit” was selected
    • Changed the way text is selected to address sluggishness on devices with Retina displays
    • Fixed a problem that manifested in ZIBBCNT and HBH where images in tables were not shown if “shrink images to fit” was selected.
    • Made sure the built-in KJV, Help, and Welcome documents plus downloaded voices all get marked as “do not back up to iCloud”.
    • Related to the above, downloaded books and voices were moved to a folder that should not be purged under low memory conditions.
  • Set the minimum iOS version supported to 5.0.

PocketBible for iOS users: What can Advanced Features do for you?

Posted on: September 11th, 2012 by Michelle Stramel 8 Comments

If you are using PocketBible 2 or later for iOS, here are some good reasons to upgrade to Advanced Features and how to do it.

Why upgrade?

The Advanced Features available for PocketBible on the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch offer some handy additions to the basic features of PocketBible.

You can watch an overview of the Advanced Feature Set below:

Tabs (or tabbed panes) are especially wonderful on the iPad. I keep 5 tabs open on my iPad and each tab contains a specific type of book so the headings display category of book (i.e. Bibles, Commentaries) rather than book abbreviation. When you mix different types of books within a pane, PocketBible shows the abbreviation for the top book instead of the category. Tabs make it fast and easy to move from my Bible to a commentary or other type of book and get the information I need to understand what the Bible is saying.

Autostudy is very useful to me because I often compare Bible translations when I read the Bible. If I particularly like or, conversely, don’t understand a verse, I want to see how it is translated elsewhere. Autostudy will put that together in seconds–all on one page. It will do the same for information from other types of books as well – commentaries, dictionaries, etc.. You can get more details on this feature in our article: Have you discovered Autostudy?

Would you like to have the program read the Bible to you? The Advanced Feature Set adds the ability to do this but you will need to make one more purchase of a voice (at $1.99 each) to take advantage of that ability. PocketBible voices are synthesized which means they are electronic and therefore won’t take up as much space on your device as an “audio Bible”. I have found this feature extremely handy for keeping up with my Bible reading in the car, as I clean the house, on a run — time that might otherwise be wasted can be reclaimed for a good purpose.

If you like to copy passages from your reference or other type books, you’ll want the Advanced Features as they allow you to do just that. And if your printer supports AirPrint, you’ll be able to print from the program.

Advanced Features were enhanced with the release of PocketBible 3 and now offers these additional capabilities!

  • A new Journal feature lets you add comments to PocketBible that are not connected to a specific book.
  • You can now rename your highlights colors. For example, you could change the label for salmon to love and use your highlights as categories for specific types of verses.
  • Change the behavior of the touch zone nagivation. The most common customization is to use swipe up and down for page changes instead of swiping left and right. Other customizations are possible.

How to upgrade

If you are already using PocketBible 2 or later on your iDevice, adding these new features is straight-forward:

  1. Purchase the Advanced Features at our web site for $4.99 (it is also available in-app for $1.00 more). Add a Voice at the same time if you think you want to use that feature. I prefer Tracy but our best-selling voices are Heather and Ryan.
  2. Go into PocketBible on your iOS device and choose the Menu button and Buy/Apply Upgrade (if you’ve already purchased at our website, you’ll just be applying). Choose Add/Remove Voices to download a Voice if you’ve purchased one.

You’re all set!

If you are still using PocketBible 1.4.7 (or earlier) for iOS, follow our 3 Steps to Move from PocketBible 1 to PocketBible 3 on your iOS device.

Why Are My Books Being Deleted?

Posted on: August 8th, 2012 by Craig Rairdin 7 Comments

Lately we’ve been seeing an increasing number of reports of the iPhone or iPad deleting PocketBible books to make room on the device for newer apps, music, or content being downloaded to the device. The assumption seems to be that PocketBible is doing something “wrong” and we need to fix it. It can be argued, however, that PocketBible is following the rules but a) the rules are not what you think they are, and b) the rules keep changing.

When the memory on your iOS device gets close to being full, the operating system looks for files it can delete to make room for whatever it is you’ve asked it to store — usually pictures, music, videos, apps or other large files. This makes the books you download for PocketBible vulnerable to deletion (just as your other data is vulnerable when you download PocketBible books onto a relatively “full” device). To get around this, we originally stored your books in a folder where the operating system promised not to delete them.

When iCloud came out and users started backing up their devices to the cloud, all those files started filling up Apple’s servers. Apple was concerned about the volume of data it had committed to store, so they contacted developers and asked us to move our files into folders that were not backed up to iCloud. Included in the list of files that should be moved were any files that could either be re-created the next time the program ran, or be easily downloaded again. This included PocketBible books.

While it would’ve been easier for Apple to just buy more hard drives for their servers, we agreed to move our files as requested. What they didn’t explain at the time was that by moving the files to the suggested folders, they would be subject to deletion as the device approached its memory capacity. After receiving some complaints, we contacted Apple and they told us how to mark files so they would not be purged even though they were in a folder that is normally purged when the device is low on memory. This solved the problem for a while.

It appears, however, that Apple has released an update that ignores the “do not purge” flag on our files and deletes them anyway. They are now saying we should move the files back to where they were before, but mark them as “do not backup”.

This is a consistent pattern with Apple. New releases of the operating system break small things that were working in previous versions. Rather than fixing the OS, Apple asks all its developers to modify their programs. Since they’re Apple, they can do this and get away with it.

One of the problems we face at Laridian is that making changes to an app and re-submitting it to the App Store for approval is a tricky proposition. Last time we did it, Apple rejected the app not for anything that had changed, but for a feature that had been in the program for the last five or six versions that they had previously approved. It took us three months and three more submissions (each time following the instructions they gave us to assure that the program was more likely to be approved) before Apple finally approved the app.

So we don’t submit PocketBible for re-approval without making sure we’ve included all the changes we might want to make for the next several weeks or months because it is a potentially lengthy process. Right now, we’re in the middle of some changes to PocketBible for Windows, Android, and iPhone to support some new features. We’d prefer not to do multiple submissions and so are hoping to complete these new features before uploading a new version to the App Store.

In the meantime, if your memory usage hovers around “full”, be proactive and remove some PocketBible books that you don’t absolutely need. It’s not that hard to simply re-download books as you need them. I regularly show up at church on Sunday morning and realize all my books are gone because I’ve been removing and re-installing PocketBible during testing. It’s simple enough to grab the Bibles and dictionaries I regularly use on Sunday morning while we’re singing our opening hymns so they’re there for the sermon. I can pull down my commentaries later as I want to use them.

While you’re doing that, we’ll work on yet another update to where your books are stored. And hopefully Apple will approve. :-)

3 Steps to Move from PocketBible 1 to PocketBible 3 on your iOS device

Posted on: August 7th, 2012 by Michelle Stramel 5 Comments


Are you still using the first version of PocketBible on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch? If so, we highly recommend moving to PocketBible 3 so you can apply program updates as they are released; we won’t be updating PocketBible 1.4.7 further.

Before we explain how to make the move, check your version number in PocketBible by tapping on the Menu button and selecting About PocketBible. If it PocketBible 1.X.X, keep reading.

  1. Step One: Go to the App Store on your device and search for PocketBible (all one word). Download the program. You’ll notice that the new program has the same icon as your old PocketBible program. If you get confused, follow the tip above to check which version of the program you are in.
  2. Step Two: Delete the old program…wait! Don’t do that yet if you have been adding notes, highlights, bookmarks or tracking reading progress that you want to save. First, read the instructions (click link and scroll to the section Moving Your Notes, Highlights, Bookmarks and Daily Reading Progress to the New Program) to transfer your data. Then delete the old program.
  3. Step Three: Re-download your books. Go into the new program and register if you haven’t already encountered that. Be sure to use the email (or Laridian ID number) and password associated with your existing Laridian account. After registration, tap on the Menu button and choose Add/Remove Books to re-download your past purchases. All your books can be downloaded in one fell swoop if you tap on each book you want to download and then tap on Update at the top of the page.

Why the extra steps? Normally, when you update a program, you just go into the App store and it tells you an update is available. PocketBible will work that way again once you download the new version. If you want to know the “why” you can get it from our initial post on this new version.

Anything else to know? Yes (but it is optional). Once you install PocketBible 3, you can also purchase and install an Advanced Feature Set for $4.99. If you purchase the Advanced Feature Set, you can add a Voice or two to the program and listen to the Bible or any book. Voices are synthesized and sell for $1.99 each.

PocketBible 2.0.3 Now Available on the App Store

Posted on: November 22nd, 2011 by Craig Rairdin 12 Comments

We just heard from Apple saying that 2.0.3 has been approved. You should already be seeing the update in iTunes on your device. We recommend everyone grab this update, as it fixes a few little problems. It also adds a couple of small enhancements that should make the program more enjoyable to use.

If you’re still running 1.4.7 or an earlier version you need to follow the instructions here to get this new version. Version 2.0.3 is not an automatic update to 1.4.7 or any 1.x.x version of PocketBible.


Enhancements

Double-tap on any image to blow it up in a window where it can be zoomed and scrolled. This is handy for maps and some of the detailed charts that appear in some study Bibles and reference books. It works best to go into Settings and tell it to fit images to the screen, then just double-tap them when you want to view them in detail.

If an image has links in it, those links are “hot” in the zoom view. Most images do not have links, but the maps in our Laridian Maps product do.

Books and voices are now marked as “non-purgeable” as they are downloaded. We got some reports that iOS would delete your books if it needed space for another app. This can be disturbing when you discover that books you spent a long time downloading are suddenly gone. By marking these as non-purgeable, Apple promises us they won’t delete them.

Note that while we retroactively mark your existing books as non-purgeable, and that we mark books and voices as non-purgeable as they are downloaded, we do not mark existing voices as non-purgeable due to the complexity of the file structure for voices. If you operate on the edge of available memory and want to make sure your voice files get marked as non-purgeable, you should delete them with Add/Remove Books, then download them again.

If there’s only one book open in a tab, we use that book’s abbreviation as the title for the tab rather than using the book’s category (“Bibles”, “Commentaries”, etc.) as the tab title.

Fixes

On iOS versions prior to 3.2, there were controls to allow you to turn on the tabbed interface even if you didn’t own the Advanced Feature Set. Unfortunately this didn’t really give you the full features of the tabbed interface because the rest of the program would get confused by the fact that you had tabs turned on but did not own the Advanced Feature Set. This version fixes that by hiding those controls.

Printing, emailing, or texting the selected text could crash or do nothing. This has been fixed.

We believe we’ve fixed a problem in which the text window was offset right and up so you could see the gray background behind the text window. This only happened to some users and only under certain circumstances. We could only duplicate it on one of our iPhones. It wasn’t related to which version of iOS you were running or which type of device you had (though I think we only saw it on iPhones and iPod touch devices, not iPads). What it was related to was the version of the development tools we used.

Turns out Apple swapped out a portion of the compiler that converts our Objective-C programming code into the machine code that runs on the phone. The new compiler apparently generates flawed code. (Compare to what happens when an inexperienced translator flubs up the translation of a speech at the United Nations. The original speech is fine but the translation doesn’t say what the original speaker said. That’s what happened to our code. Our code was correct by Apple’s translation of it made the device do something different.) We fixed it by turning off all the special optimizations that the compiler can do for us. Hopefully another programmer will be able to demonstrate this bug in some simple way so Apple can fix it. We were never able to do it reliably, so we couldn’t report it.

As I said, everyone should install this update. You don’t need to re-download your books or voices, nor do you need to sync your personal data after you update. This is just a normal program update that won’t affect anything you’ve downloaded nor any of your notes, highlights, or bookmarks.

PocketBible 2.0.2 Available on the App Store

Posted on: October 21st, 2011 by Craig Rairdin 14 Comments

We’ve just been notified that our latest update to PocketBible (version 2.0.2) has been approved by Apple. It should become available in the App Store over the next 24 hours.

This update mostly affects people at either end of the range of supported iOS versions. For those of you still running some version of iOS less than 3.2 (primarily those of you with first-generation iPod touch devices running 3.1.3) you’ll finally get to see what PocketBible 2 looks like. Both the initial release and the 2.0.1 update had problems that prevented them from running on those devices. We had been relying on our development tools to tell us if we were using features of iOS that were not present on those older devices. Unfortunately, it turns out they are very silent on that issue. We’ve learned our lesson and have “downgraded” an old iPhone to 3.0 for testing. (Previously we were limited to running 3.2 in the iPhone emulator.) As a result we’ve been able to identify the issues that were preventing PocketBible from running on 3.0 and 3.1 devices.

On the other end of the iOS version spectrum we ran into an interesting bug in iOS 5. When we put verses on the pasteboard (that’s “clipboard” everywhere else but in Apple Land), we always store both a plain-text version and an HTML version. This allows applications that understand HTML to paste nicely formatted text, including superscripted verse numbers, words of Christ in red, and bold headings. Simpler applications expecting only plain text have the option of requesting just the plain text from the pasteboard.

When an application pastes data from the pasteboard, it specifies what format it wants. Unfortunately, in iOS 5, when an application asks for the traditional “utf8-plain-text” that has worked in all iOS versions since the beginning of time (OK, since iOS 2), the operating system will not give it the “utf8-plain-text” version of the pasteboard text, but instead will substitute something else — in our case, the HTML text that is also there. Since the pasting application neither expects nor understand HTML, it treats it as plain text and pastes it, tags and all, into your document.

To get around this, we have to add a third form of the text to the pasteboard, which is identified simply as “text”. This version is identical to the more correct “utf8-plain-text” that has worked on previous iOS versions. Doing this tricks iOS 5 into supplying plain text to apps that request it, so that pasted verses no longer include HTML tags.

On the subject of iOS 5, it introduced some new fonts and some new ways of identifying old fonts. Since iOS makes it very difficult to determine if a font provides the bold, italic, and bold/italic versions that PocketBible requires, we use a somewhat fragile technique to try to make that determination by looking at the names of the fonts. This didn’t work exactly right in iOS 5. The result was that Helvetica Neue was displayed as condensed and bold, and both Optima and Hoefler Text were missing from the list of available fonts. This has been fixed and the code reinforced so that hopefully it will do a better job identifying fonts in the future.

Some of you have had the unfortunate experience of selecting two or three verse and when you ask PocketBible to highlight the selected verses, it highlights the rest of your Bible. This happens when the end of your selection is right on the little gap between paragraphs. This is fixed in version 2.0.2 so that your entire Bible isn’t highlighted when you only want to highlight a couple verses.

Finally, probably because of the load that PocketBible 2 has put on our servers, many of you ended up with corrupted book files. Since PocketBible can’t read the file (the were corrupted during download) it can only identify the book by its 8-character alphanumeric file name. So you would see a message that “0065001d.lbk” was damaged, but there was no way to know what book that was so that you could re-download it. This message came up every time you ran PocketBible. The new version deletes damaged books automatically so that you won’t be nagged by warning messages.

For all the complaining we do about the App Store approval process, this update was approved in about 24 hours. Hard to complain about that!

PocketBible 2.0.1 Approved by Apple

Posted on: October 12th, 2011 by Craig Rairdin 19 Comments

We’ve just been notified that PocketBible for iOS version 2.0.1 has been approved. This is essentially an update that tries to squash the inevitable little bugs that show up in any x.0.0 version.

Some of you were completely unable to run PocketBible at all. Turns out if you weren’t running a relatively recent version of the operating system, PocketBible would display its splash screen then immediately exit. This has been fixed. We were all somewhat surprised we hadn’t found that problem before releasing the program, since it was trivial to reproduce once we set our minds to it. We get used to our programming tools warning us when we try to do something that’s not available in older versions of the OS and don’t always test for compatibility as thoroughly as we could.

Some of you were surprised to hear Heather or Ryan or one of our other voices start reading the Bible to you when you hung up after a phone call. Turns out if you paused PocketBible’s synthesized voice instead of stopping it, then any interruption would restart the reading. That was an easy fix once I figured out what was going on. Sorry if it caught you at an inopportune time.

This brings up an interesting point: You probably didn’t realize that the “mute” switch on your iPad or iPhone is only a “suggestion” to the device. You might think you’re turning off the sound, but you’re not. Apple treats the iPod app and other apps that play “foreground” sound (such as PocketBible) as immune from the effects of the mute switch. They believe you only intend to mute background sounds from games, key clicks, and that kind of thing when you flip the mute switch. Hmmm.

A couple of you reported that you only had two panes/tabs on your iPhone after upgrading to the Advanced Feature Set, instead of the advertised five panes/tabs. It could be fixed by exiting the program and re-launching. We were able to find the problem and fix it so you won’t have to do that in the future.

While printing out one of my own sermon notes I discovered the Autostudy CSS settings for ordered and unordered lists were overriding my list types. So my nice outline with roman numerals and upper/lower case letters was displayed with all arabic numerals. I made a change to the default CSS so this won’t happen.

Some of you were able to crash the program while doing a “Paste to Email” or “Paste to Text” operation. When we looked at the code, it looked like it should always crash, yet it never crashed for us and it didn’t crash for many of you. So this is one of those cases where we’re not sure why it ever worked at all. Nevertheless, it’s fixed in 2.0.1.

Finally, we got a nice note from Apple saying they were concerned about the effect our Bibles and books would have on the amount of data backed up to their new iCloud service. Data that can be re-downloaded from our server, they said, should not be stored in a directory that is automatically backed up. We see it the other way. We think you’d like to have your entire PocketBible library restored when restoring from a backup set, without having to separately log into our server (and any other server for any other program you might have with ebooks or other downloadable data). We read the developer documentation as “suggesting” that we don’t do that, so after considering the suggestion we decided to leave it the way it was.

However, Apple seemed really concerned about the few dollars this might cost them in additional hard drive space for iCloud, and given that they’ve gone through some tough times lately we decided to help them out. Version 2.0.1 automatically moves your books to a folder that does not get backed up to iCloud. So if you ever have to restore a backup, you’ll have to log into your account on our server and re-download your books. Just don’t everyone do it at the same time. :-)

Is the iPad the perfect platform for PocketBible?

Posted on: June 21st, 2011 by Michelle Stramel 41 Comments

In a recent post, I asked if you were still using a print version Bible along with PocketBible. Although not a scientific survey, of forty-some comments via Facebook and the web, around 35% of you are still using print regularly and another 20% are using it occasionally – mostly for personal study at home or in preaching (we still can’t trust electronic entirely!). I related to the person who mentioned that he uses print so he is not distracted by emails, texts, Facebook, etc. when he is trying to read the Bible. I can further add that a printed Bible does not attract the notice of children (or adults) in the same manner that an electronic device does, giving the printed Word another advantage for quiet times. In summary, the electronic and print still seem to offer something that cannot be replaced entirely by the other. Although I couldn’t help but notice a certain “extra” enthusiasm about PocketBible from the iPad owners.

I’ve always thought the iPad looked cool but there’s no way I’d part with $500 for what I consider to be a non-essential electronic device. However, your comments intrigued me and I was able to borrow an iPad and use it for the last week or so. Let’s just say, I “get” your enthusiasm. I haven’t felt this way about a device since I first got my iPhone. As a personal study tool and a replacement for a paper Bible, I can’t imagine anything better. However, if I prepared Bible studies or wrote sermons, I think I would continue to use PocketBible for Windows at my desktop. And, of course, PocketBible on my iPhone would be used because I always have my phone with me. But, yes, PocketBible for iPad along with all the other features of the iPad is making $500 seem like a wise investment rather than an extravagance.

What’s to love about the iPad?

1. iPads are more portable than a laptop and they turn on instantly. I don’t carry my laptop around the house and it sure doesn’t turn on instantly even from sleep mode.

2. It still has that “geeky-cool” factor (as one customer put it) and everything, including PocketBible, game apps, web sites, looks great on it.

3. PocketBible for iPad. It beats out PocketBible for iPhone in my book for one really important reason: screen size. For the first time, I’m using the split screen option regularly – up to 5 windows open on the iPad is amazing. The extra buttons on the toolbar and the extra toolbox make changing settings and adding highlights and bookmarks easier. And I love that the search feature shows results for all my books instead of just the current one. On the iPad, there is more room to spread out and, for me, that makes it more enjoyable to use.

iPad owners, am I missing anything about PocketBible or the iPad in general?

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