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Archive for the ‘New Products’ Category

PocketBible Rejection #1

Posted on: September 1st, 2009 by Craig Rairdin 43 Comments

As I said before, I anticipated we’d have problems getting PocketBible for iPhone through the approval process at the App Store. It’s a complicated app for one thing, and Apple’s approval process has a bit of a checkered reputation for another.

Late last night we were notified that PocketBible was being rejected. The issue was a misunderstanding about how PocketBible works. We immediately submitted an explanation, added details on how they can access “help” from within the program, and resubmitted the application.

I don’t believe this puts us at the end of the approval queue, but even if it does it only took a week for them to look at the program.

So I’m expecting our next rejection within a week. :-)

Status Update – PocketBible for iPhone

Posted on: August 31st, 2009 by Craig Rairdin 34 Comments

We’re at one week since submitting the app to the App Store and I want to answer a few questions that have come up in email and in the comments.

  • We will not get any feedback from Apple until/unless the app is approved. The current status is “In Review” and that’s all we’ll know until they actually either approve or decline it. If they decline it, they’ll tell us why and tell us what to do to fix it. We don’t have any reason to believe they won’t approve it, or if they find problems, that they won’t approve it eventually.
  • We appreciate your offers to give us donations to cover the cost of development. We’ve thought about formalizing that process but at the same time you can “donate” by simply not using our discount codes when you place an order for add-on books. We’re embarrassed to even suggest such a thing and are humbled by your generosity.
  • We will be having some kind of site-wide sale once the new product is approved on the App Store. We’ll send an email out to current customers and probably post something here in the blog. If you’re interested in building your library, that will be a good time to do it.
  • You will have access to all your current Bibles and reference books from inside PocketBible for iPhone. I’m not sure how to make this more clear. Take a look at the first video here. All I’m doing is logging into my existing account using my customer ID and password (you can also use your email address instead of customer ID if you don’t know it). Once I’m logged in, I see a list of everything I’ve previously purchased for any platform. I can download any of those titles to the iPhone.
  • Memorize!, DailyReader for Palm OS, and the old PrayerPartner for Palm OS are programs, not reference books, and won’t be included in the titles you can download for iPhone. We have not announced our plans for a version of Memorize! or PrayerPartner for the iPhone. The features of DailyReader are built into PocketBible and will be enhanced in future releases of PocketBible for iPhone.
  • MyBible users will probably have the biggest transition to make. As you might know, MyBible was written by an outside developer who was a Palm employee at the time. We marketed it on his behalf. At the same time, we developed PocketBible for Windows Mobile in-house. It was the original product that Jeff Wheeler and I wrote starting back in 1998 and which motivated us to leave Parsons Technology in late 1998/early 1999 together with Jim VanDuzer to start Laridian. PocketBible for iPhone is based on the Windows Mobile code base and overall philosophy of operation. The differences are subtle but you may notice them. For example, MyBible lets you highlight a single letter in a word. PocketBible highlights entire verses.
  • Remember, this is version 1.0.0. Other versions are coming. If you don’t see a favorite feature, tell us about it, then wait. We’ll be constantly working on updates for the next few months. Those of you who got involved in in the very early stages remember that we issued updates every couple of weeks for a few months as we rounded out the feature list. We’ll be doing the same thing with PocketBible for iPhone.
  • If you can find it in your hearts, give us a nice review. Early reviews are important. If you can do us the favor of complaining to us directly by email instead of through your reviews on the App Store, that would be great. We’re going to do everything we can to be responsive and make sure PocketBible for iPhone is everything you want it to be. If people express their complaints through App Store reviews instead of directly to us, the product could fail before we have the opportunity to finish it.
  • We haven’t forgotten Windows Mobile. There will be a new release of WM next year and we currently plan to revisit PocketBible for Windows Mobile sometime before then and release an update. Nothing firm yet.

That’s it for now. I just checked and there’s no change in the status of the app as of this morning. I’m sure one of you will probably spot it before I do. :-)

PocketBible for iPhone Uploaded to App Store

Posted on: August 24th, 2009 by Craig Rairdin 42 Comments

PocketBible Splash ScreenThis afternoon I uploaded PocketBible for iPhone version 1.0.0 to the App Store.

Now we wait.

Apple says it will take about two weeks. We’ll see. I know that uploading took me only 15 minutes, but that was after spending hours trying to find the right combination of options NOT to choose and titles I was NOT allowed to use for the program. So I’m not going to be surprised if approval takes longer than two weeks.

In the meantime we have a lot of work to do on the Web site to get it ready for the release. We’re going to try to make some changes to the way our e-commerce works at the same time. Hopefully we won’t break anything important.

I previously posted several videos of PocketBible in action. So if you’re curious, take a look at those.

One of the last things to come together was the program icon. We went through three major themes before finding a last-minute idea with promise. Our first idea was to lift the Bible icon from our Windows Mobile app. But when we looked at the 60 or more Bible apps on the iPhone, it seems over half of them had the same idea. So we were afraid we’d get lost.

So then we went with a version of our company logo. That had some fans, but suffered from being not very scalable as we release new programs (i.e. we only have one company logo but we expect to have more than one iPhone app). Plus it was boring.

While this was going on we had an artist work on a “Bible in a pocket” icon. The beta testers weren’t crazy about that one.

One of our testers is a fellow developer. He turned us on to his icon designer, who had the idea to used stained glass as a theme. We weren’t crazy about this at first but then I found a stained glass artist in Minnesota who had done some very contemporary looking work for a Lutheran church that seemed like it might work. We contacted the artist (Nicholas Markell) and he was willing to work with us. There were some interesting copyright issues, but Nick was a very reasonable guy and was pretty knowledgeable on the topic and we were able to work through those very painlessly.

So the program icon and splash screen (shown here) are based on a stained glass window entitled “Baptism of Jesus”. While the baptism of Jesus has little to do with our program, a little creative reinterpretation makes it work well. The Holy Spirit, represented here as a dove, illuminates the Scriptures for the believer. The water represents the “living water” (John 4) of the Word of God that gives eternal life through the cross, which is in the background of the image. Across the surface of the water runs the “scarlet thread of redemption” that ties the Bible together from the first verse of Genesis to the last verse of Revelation.

In addition to the obvious symbolic significance of this particular work of art, there’s the bigger symbolism of stained glass in a Christian context. Beyond its obvious beauty, stained glass windows served a valuable purpose in churches: They taught the stories of the Bible to a largely illiterate population. For many people in medieval times, church windows were their Bibles.

We like the meta symbolism of the medium of stained glass representing the Bible, and the specific symbolism of this piece as it relates to studying the Bible with our program. And besides, it looks really nice on the iPhone.

It’s unlikely we’ll hear any good news until the program is approved. We’ll pass along any bad news we receive just to keep you informed. Until then we have plenty to do to get ready. We appreciate all your kind words and prayers.

Laridian Logo Apparel Available at our Lands’ End Store

Posted on: August 21st, 2009 by Craig Rairdin No Comments

Laridian LogoOne of our PocketBible beta testers spotted a picture of Jeff in a Laridian pullover with me in a Laridian polo and asked if he could purchase Laridian apparel anywhere.

We have a long-standing relationship with Lands’ End going back to our days at Parsons Technology. I have a picture on my wall of the entire Church Software Division staff at Parsons in our purple Parsons polos from 1995, and for a couple of years I gave out Lands’ End gift certificates to them as Christmas gifts.

Lands’ End normally password-protects logos so that they won’t be used without permission. So I went fishing for a way that you can use our logos on your purchases there. Turns out they have a way for us to create our own store. We don’t get a commission, which is dumb, but you get to use our logos.

So here’s a link to Laridian at Lands’ End. There are two versions of the Laridian logo. One is the one you see here. The other has LARIDIAN in large type with a very small version of the flying book logo below it. That version is in black and looks good on most colors.

Note that you don’t automatically get the Laridian logo on everything you buy. You have to add it. Once you select your item, there’s an option to choose a logo and a location on the item to put the logo.

Like I said we don’t make a dime from these sales, but the quality is very good and customer service is excellent. We hope you’ll enjoy your Laridian apparel from Lands’ End!

PocketBible for iPhone Beta 5 / Release Candidate 1

Posted on: August 18th, 2009 by Craig Rairdin 23 Comments

Just a quick note to let you know we released Beta 5 to the testers tonight. We consider this a true release candidate. In other words, if the testers don’t find anything wrong, there’s nothing left to do before it goes to Apple. (Nothing, that is, other than changing the version number and putting the official program icon into the program, which hasn’t been finished yet.)

We expect the beta testers will find some things that need to be fixed. :-)

Apple is reporting that most apps are approved within two weeks based on the current volume of submissions. Since this is our first submission, we expect it to come back with things we need to fix before it can be accepted.

We appreciate your patience more than you know. We also want to remind you that once this version is released we will be following it with several updates in rapid succession to round out the feature list. So stick with us through 1.0.0 and your favorite features from our other programs will show up fairly quickly.

PocketBible for iPhone Video Demos

Posted on: August 10th, 2009 by Craig Rairdin 10 Comments

I put a link to these videos in my last post but some of you may have missed it since I edited an existing blog article.

I’ve posted some videos of PocketBible for the iPhone in action on our YouTube channel. You can view those videos here.

These videos were created while running the program in the iPhone Simulator on the Mac. It makes for a nice video but the program runs faster on a Mac than it does on the actual device.

PocketBible for iPhone Beta 4 Released

Posted on: August 8th, 2009 by Craig Rairdin 19 Comments

I told you a few weeks ago I’d let you know when Beta 3 of PocketBible for iPhone went to the testers, but I forgot to do that. I’m here this evening to let you know that Beta 4 went out the door a few minutes ago.

Click here for a few videos showing PocketBible for iPhone in action.

I think the program is coming together well and we’re down to tasks like writing the documentation. One of the cool things about the iPhone app is that the documentation is “just another book” inside the program. So as we revise the User Guide, our testers just go to the “Add/Remove Books” function of the program and grab the latest version from our server. It is downloaded directly into the program.

Back in January we asked our Alpha testers, “Would you rather that we release the program as soon as possible but perhaps missing a few features, or wait until we’re completely done before releasing it?” They were very vocal in their opinion that we should get something out ASAP. So we’re going to be asking that you bear with us just a bit through the first 3-4 updates of the program once we release it to the App Store. Version 1.0.0 will be missing a few features that we fully intend to have in the program. In fact, by the time Apple approves 1.0.0 we’ll probably already have 1.0.1 ready to upload to the App Store with the additional features. I anticipate doing this very regularly for 3-4 versions until the program gets its full set of features.

This is not to say that the first release won’t be a useful program. It will support all our Bibles and reference books but will be missing a few things like note taking and tracking your devotional reading progress. Those features will come quickly after the initial version is released.

Thanks for your patience and prayers. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s looking less and less like an oncoming train.

PocketBible for iPhone Beta 2 (Finally)

Posted on: July 18th, 2009 by Craig Rairdin 26 Comments

It’s been a long six weeks since we released Beta 1 of our native version of PocketBible for iPhone. At the time I said we were expecting the beta period to be short. Needless to say I was wrong.

A Wrench in the Works

Two major things happened to really slow us down. First, we have been really struggling to get adequate performance out of our code to allow you to be able to smoothly scroll through the Bible like you would a Web page in Safari on the iPhone. Safari has the advantage of being able to render the entire page. Once that is done, scrolling around on it — even zooming in and out — is pretty easy with the features of the iPhone OS. In our case, however, we can’t render the entire Bible while you wait. We have to load it into memory in pieces. Unfortunately, computers can only do one thing at once and while it was busy loading the next chunk of text it needed to display, the scrolling would get clunky. It wouldn’t keep up with your finger motions.

We actually got to the point where it was working pretty well. We were loading text in a separate thread and drawing during otherwise idle times (say, while the graphics processor was busy animating the motion of the text). But then we installed the OS 3 SDK and things fell apart.

We couldn’t afford to take the time to figure out how and why the new version was causing us problems. Suffice to say that the particular functionality we were taking advantage of was rewritten for version 3, and in so doing the handling of touch events changed in ways that may not be significant to some applications but were significant to us.

As a simple example, when you’re tracking a touch event, the system can send you a “cancel” message. This means the phone is ringing or some other event has happened and your program needs to stop what it’s doing and let something more important take over. Well, with version 3 we’d be happily tracking a touch event and suddenly we’d get a “cancel” message. It seems the system was watching the touch events and had decided that the touches weren’t doing anything it cared about, so it told us to cancel our handling of those events. We could’ve ignored the “cancel” message (knowing it was just the OS trying to take over touch handling) but since the “cancel” message also means “really — the phone is ringing — you need to stop right now” we couldn’t afford to make that assumption.

Anyway, the end result was we threw out about six months worth of work and in about a day I coded a replacement that doesn’t depend on a lot of fancy background threads, idle-time drawing, or system touch event handling. The new user interface is simple, practical, and best of all — it’s done.

As if That Wasn’t Enough…

So as we’re recovering from that crisis, the 3GS is released. Now, when you’re developing for the iPhone there are some strict procedures you have to follow to install your program on your phone. Apple wants to make sure all program distribution happens through the App Store, so they limit how many devices you can install your app on outside the App Store. Every time we distribute a beta version (or even one of our own builds we do internally and install on our own phones) we have to identify exactly which phones it will run on. Apple lets us install on no more than 100 devices outside the App Store.

To manage this, developers maintain a list of “unique device ID’s” (UDIDs) in their account on the Apple Web site. Each phone as a UDID that uniquely identifies it. We ask all of our beta testers for their UDIDs and enter those at the Apple site. When we distribute a new build we request a certificate from Apple that contains all the UDIDs we want the program to run on.

So as I was saying, the 3GS was released. Jeff bought one for us to test with. A bunch of our beta testers bought them. So anticipating the release of Beta 2, I started collecting all these new UDIDs so I could update our account on the Apple site and create the new distribution certificate with everyone’s new UDID in it. I got about half way through entering them and the site told me I couldn’t enter any more. It said I had already used my 100 devices.

I only had 82 devices in my list. Turns out when you change someone’s UDID it counts as a new device. I had added 85 devices, deleted 3, and made 15 changes. When you delete a device you don’t get its “slot” back, so from Apple’s perspective the total was 100.

After several email, support forum, and telephone conversations with Apple and other developers, we concluded that we were out of luck. We had to wait until our annual program renewed on July 12. At that time, Apple said our device count would reset. We could delete all our devices and start over. But once we started adding devices, we were stuck with those for a year.

One thing that meant is that we couldn’t have 82 beta testers. We needed to cut the list dramatically. I wanted to get down around 40 testers. That would allow us to add some people over the next year and have room for device upgrades. We should be able to struggle through until Apple figures out that its developers aren’t trying to rip it off; we’re just trying to test our software.

So last week we sent out an email “firing” about half our testers. It wasn’t pleasant, but we had to do it. I think we have a pretty good group left. I can tell they’re good because I disagree with them most of the time. It’s good to be challenged to look at things a new way, and these folks are definitely keeping us honest.

Beta 2 Features

There are some notable features in Beta 2 that the testers will be looking at over the next week or two. These include:

  • Easily navigate to the next/previous page, chapter, or verse using simple taps and gestures.
  • Rotate between open books and Bibles with a tap or a swipe.
  • Hide all controls including the system status bar for full-screen reading, while having instant access to all the controls with a tap.
  • Search for words, phrases, and combinations of words using Boolean logic. Limit searches to any passage, book of the Bible, or range of books. Limit searches to only verses you’ve highlighted in a particular color or bookmarked in a particular category.
  • Add books from your Laridian account. Purchase books at our Web site and download them directly into PocketBible. Remove books as needed to free up memory (just download and install them any time you need them again).
  • Select from any installed font and font sizes from 8 to 72 points.
  • Lots of customization options, and many more features….

What’s Next?

There will be at least one more beta version before we submit PocketBible to the App Store. We’ll post an article like this one when Beta 3 is released, and another article when we send PocketBible to the App Store.

Once submitted, it will take a while for Apple to approve it. They might send it back and ask us to make changes. There’s no way of knowing how long that process will take. Sometimes it takes just a few days or a couple weeks. Other times it takes six months by the time you make all the changes they want and submit version after version for review. We don’t anticipate it will take that long but we have no way of knowing.

Any Bibles or books you buy today for any platform will be accessible from PocketBible for iPhone.

PocketBible for iPhone Beta 1

Posted on: May 23rd, 2009 by Craig Rairdin 117 Comments

I posted the first beta version of PocketBible for our beta testers this afternoon. Hopefully it’s raining somewhere over this Memorial Day weekend so a few of them will get some testing done.

We don’t anticipate this to be a lengthy beta. We’re planning to ship with a short to-do list of features we’ll add in version 1.1 and 1.2 (and beyond). The important thing is to get the application out the door.

We’re currently planning to let you download PocketBible from the App Store at no charge. It will come with the KJV and the ability to create a download account at our site that will let you download all our free resources (ASV, DNT, YLT, etc. Bibles plus several commentaries and devotionals). And of course if you already have a download account at our site you’ll be able to download any existing titles you already own, even if you bought them for a different platform. So the cross-grade charge should be $0. We’re hoping you’ll be so thrilled with the price that you’ll buy more Bibles and reference books to help pay for the cost of development.

I hope to be able to post some quotes from the testers and some indication of our progress over the next few days as we prepare to submit the app to Apple for approval. Then we wait while they give it the once over. We’ll be letting everyone know by email and here at the blog when we see it at the App Store.

Thanks for your patience, and especially thanks to those of you who volunteered but who we had to turn away due to limits on the size of our beta testing group. We think you’re going to be pleased with the results.

Four great new titles with loads of concise information!

Posted on: April 28th, 2009 by Craig Rairdin No Comments
The AMG Concise Introduction to the Bible is for every person who has ever wanted to get a firm grasp on Bible history and Bible meaning, but didn’t have a clue how to do it or where to begin.

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The AMG Concise Bible Doctrine takes hard to comprehend Biblical doctrine and makes it readily understandable for the contemporary Bible scholar. Includes:

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  • Who God Is
  • The Present Ministry of Jesus Christ
  • The Present Ministry of the Holy Spirit
  • The Works of Angels
  • The Nature of Satan and Demon Activity
  • The Nature of Prophecy
  • The Signs of the Times and the Rapture
  • The Eternal Abode of the Unsaved
  • The Eternal Home of the Saved

AMG’s Encyclopedia of Bible Facts is more than a trivia book, more than an introduction to the Bible, more than a dictionary, and more than a word almanac of the Bible. It’s everything you ever wanted to know about the Bible and then some.

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With over five thousand biographical sketches of Christian leaders spanning twenty centuries, readers will be hard-pressed to find someone of note not mentioned in this volume.

Until June 9, 2009 get all four titles for only $39.99 (33% off the list price)!

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