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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

New for PocketBible and MyBible: Expositor’s Bible Commentary, New Testament

Posted on: April 2nd, 2012 by Michelle Stramel 3 Comments


We have released the Zondervan Expositor’s Bible Commentary: New Testament for use with PocketBible for iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, Windows PC and MyBible for Palm OS.

As the name suggests, this commentary focuses on providing pastors and Bible students with a comprehensive and scholarly tool for the exposition of the Scriptures. Over the years, it has become a staple of seminary and college libraries and pastors’ studies worldwide. The New International Version (NIV) of the Bible (sold separately) provides the basis for the comments, but authors also refer freely to other translations and to the original languages.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: New Testament sells for $79.99.

New for PocketBible: Cornerstone Biblical Commentary Series

Posted on: March 29th, 2012 by Michelle Stramel 11 Comments
We released six volumes in the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary Series this week:

We had previously released eleven volumes in this series. You can purchase each volume separately for $19.99 or all seventeen volumes in one money-saving bundle, Cornerstone Biblical Commentary Series, for $249.99 (26% savings over purchasing separately). The books are available for use with PocketBible for Windows, iOS, Android and Windows Mobile.

This commentary series offers some unique features:

  • Comments are based on the New Living Translation Bible text (although you can use the commentary with any Bible in PocketBible). Many of the authors and editors of the commentary series participated in the creation of the NLT.
  • The commentary is recent scholarship (2006 to present – three volumes still to come).
  • Presents the message of each passage as well as an overview of other issues surrounding the text


We’re not virtual anymore!

Posted on: January 29th, 2012 by Michelle Stramel 11 Comments

If you’ve ever visited the About page on our website in the past, you may have read:

This is as close as you’re going to come to visiting our “facilities”. Laridian is a virtual corporation where employees work from their homes. Currently we’re spread out over three states. We rely heavily on electronic means of communication, though those of us working in our hometown of Cedar Rapids, IA frequently meet in person just to keep from going crazy, if nothing else.

Well, times have changed and we’d like to officially announce that we have left our home-based, coffee shop, Skype’ing days behind us for a physical location where we all work together in one office in Cedar Rapids, IA. Yes, there are a few unhappy coffee shop owners in the area but for Laridian it has been a great move. We all loved the perks of working from home (i.e. optional showering, work in your pj’s) but now, having tried the alternative, we have to admit that there are some definite advantages to working together in the same building. We’ve already seen improvements in productivity in every area of the company. And as far as communication goes, we only have to get up and take a short walk to find out what is going on with a co-worker. We’ve replaced our “virtual” reality with a “new” reality that isn’t half bad and might just be worth having to take a daily shower.

Why the change? Until this summer we had used a number of outside contractors and companies to create the books and Bibles that go into PocketBible. When this process was working, it worked well. But recently, two of our best outside contractors had changes in their situations that robbed them of the free time they were devoting to tagging books. As a result it was taking longer and longer to get finished books. So we decided to bring this operation in-house. In addition to having more control over the schedule, we thought it would be easier to manage.

When putting together the budget for the new employees, we decided to include office space, office furniture, computers, internet connections, and everything else we’d need to operate a “real” office. It turned out the cost wasn’t really that bad, and the benefit of having the new people sitting right next to seasoned veterans made training a breeze. So we rented some office space close to Craig and Jeff’s house, then hired the editors. The result is that you saw more new titles from us in the last quarter of 2011 than in some previous entire years.

Just this month, the last of our home-based employees moved into the office with us. Yesterday, we made it official by putting a sign up on the door telling the world (and the FedEx driver) we’re here. So you won’t find us out in the virtual world any longer – we’ve come down to earth and we hope it will be for your benefit.

Craig Rairdin, Christian Computing Hall of Fame Inductee – Part II

Posted on: September 30th, 2011 by Michelle Stramel 4 Comments

A couple of months back we reported the great news that Craig Rairdin, President of Laridian, had been inducted into the Christian Computing Hall of Fame. For those who enjoy the story behind the story, Christian Computing has published an article in their September issue, written by Laridian Vice President Jeff Wheeler, that tells more about Craig and his contributions to the Bible software industry.

Laridian Launches All New Website

Posted on: December 31st, 2010 by Craig Rairdin 32 Comments

First, a little history.

Back in 1998 when we founded the company, we knew very little about the technologies that make up the Web. We contracted another company to create an e-commerce site for us and as such projects usually go, they got about 80% there and said they were done. In order to just get our site up and running we had to learn a little bit about Active Server Pages, HTML, SQL Server, and payment processing. We finished their job, which turned out to be a good thing since it forced us to learn how our site worked.

Over the years, we’ve expanded onto multiple platforms and multiplied our product range many times over. The days of being able to concisely list all of our products on a single order form were gone a long time ago, yet our lengthy order form persisted. The pressures of running a company and continuing to develop Bible software for a large number of different platforms took precedence over upgrading the website.

Five Years in the Making

Back in 2004 we hired a person who specialized in Web technologies and tasked him with re-engineering our site. We wanted a “catalog” and a “shopping cart” instead of an “order form”. We wanted it to be easier to roll out a Bible reader for a new platform and have its catalog already populated with our full range of Bibles and books. We wanted marketing people to be able to create catalog pages without knowing (much) HTML. And we wanted to consume fewer processor cycles serving pages so our site would be scalable and perform better.

We did an incremental update to the site that gave it a more contemporary look and handy pull-down menus, but retained the old commerce aspects of the site. Then Web-enabled cell phones came along and we needed a Web-based Bible product. Our new Web guy was the perfect person for this task. And when business started booming and we outgrew our Web server, we needed someone to negotiate the world of load balancing, multiple Web servers, database servers, email servers, firewalls, VPNs, and all manner of other issues. Our website redesign project spent a lot of time on the back burner while we put out the fires burning on the front burner.

The “Web-based Bible product” eventually turned into iPocketBible.com, the first Bible program for what was then the “new” iPhone. Other projects came and went, and eventually our fancy Web technology guy came and went, leaving us with lots of ideas, quite a few pieces of mostly implemented infrastructure, but very little to show other than one or two Web pages that demonstrated the color pallet we had agreed on.

Android: The Unlikely Motivation

When the Android OS had a surprisingly good Christmas in 2009 we knew we were going to have to start thinking about Bible software for that platform. Work began in late summer 2010. As the program came together we started thinking about what it was going to take to duct-tape another platform onto the old website and it was not encouraging. In November, I (Craig) made the mistake of saying, “I think if I just had a week during which I could focus on the new website, I could have it online and it would make releasing the Android version of PocketBible a lot easier.” Jeff (co-founder and VP Development) and Michelle (Marketing Director) looked at each other then at me and said, “Really? You should do that!”

Having “permission” to focus on the website was very motivating. Eight weeks later this site emerged. And that’s why we don’t pre-announce our ship dates. Thirty years in the software business and our estimates are still off by a factor of eight. :-)

Features

  • Login applies to the entire site, not just to your download account. Log in at any time and the site will automatically tell you if you already own the particular book you’re looking at.
  • If a book is part of a series or bundle, the site will point that out to you, allowing you to save money by buying it as part of a larger collection.
  • For each platform (iPhone, Windows, etc.) and each book type (Bibles, dictionaries, commentaries, etc.) the site automatically maintains best-sellers and new-releases lists.
  • A true shopping cart replaces the old order form. Purchase products for two or more platforms in one order (wasn’t possible before).
  • Purchase more than one license for downloadable products. (Again, wasn’t possible before.)
  • Cover images for books
  • Faster download account page.
  • “Programs” and “Books” separated on download page to make it easier to find what you’re looking for.
  • Simplified options on the download page. Show only products you haven’t yet downloaded or only products updated since you last downloaded them.
  • No need to pick a platform before entering the site. Less intimidating.
  • Ability to browse the entire catalog regardless of your platform.
  • Support for Associates Program referrer codes on every page. More detailed Associates Program reports for better tuning of links for maximum revenue. “Copy Link” feature on most pages for easy creation of links containing your referrer code.
  • Easy site navigation and useful information in the footer.

Some Facts About the New Site

  • The old Laridian website had approximately 1600 hand-coded ASP and HTML pages. The new site covers an additional platform and has less than 70 hand-coded pages. The rest are automatically generated from a database of product information.
  • Product information is stored in a structured way with very little HTML tagging (bold, italics, and a limited number of links). This way, non-HTML-experts can create and maintain all the product pages. (Previously, each product required one hand-coded ASP/HTML page for each supported platform.)
  • Adding a new platform (like Android) to our product line used to require the manual creation of hundreds of individual product pages. The new site requires only one new page. The rest are generated automatically from existing data.
  • The old site required us to list every single product available for each platform on a separate order form. The new site automatically builds a catalog and has an integrated shopping cart.
  • The old site had very few product images. Each image had to be manually scaled to the appropriate size and uploaded to the server. The new site takes one product image and automatically creates it in several sizes to use in different contexts. As a result we’ve added cover images for every book and a graphical icon for every program.
  • The bookstore that is built into the iPhone and Android applications uses same technology as the main website to create its catalog. Only about a dozen small pages are required for the entire site. Individual product pages are created from the same data that drives the main website.
  • The method of determining what products a customer owns has been centralized making it faster and easier to use for a variety of purposes. For example, if you are logged in, the site can tell you whether or not you already own a product you are about to purchase.
  • The new site automatically builds best-seller, new-releases, and all other product lists without any intervention so that they’re always up-to-date.
  • The new site makes extensive use of CSS to make it easier to reconfigure and fix problems. It uses just a little JavaScript but is intentionally simple so that it runs on a wide range of browsers with little need to do any detection and special cases in the code.
  • The “big footer” was inspired by sites like Zappos and while it may be cliche and trendy we think it’s really useful. It’s our favorite way to get around the site.

Future Plans

  • There are a few small things “missing”, such as a way for users to modify their own contact information and support for the Associates Program. These will be coming soon.
  • The store built into the iPhone and Android apps has a “search” function. Since the on-device stores are built on the same foundation as the main site, it should be trivial to add this functionality to the main site.
  • This blog still sports the “old look”. We’re moving it to a new server and will be either styling it to look like the main site or going with a more attractive generic style.
  • I’ve always wanted to have a way for you to view your order history and print a receipt for any order.
  • We’d like to make it harder to end up with more than one account by testing your email address against our records before you purchase.

There will undoubtedly be some problems as we shake out the remaining bugs, so we appreciate your patience. We really like the result and hope you do, too.

PocketBible for iPhone/iPad 1.4.6 Available

Posted on: December 21st, 2010 by Craig Rairdin 19 Comments

That was quick.

On Monday morning I uploaded version 1.4.6 to the App Store. On Tuesday night it was approved. Nice.

This version has just a few little bug fixes:

  • Fixed a bug in which the program would crash during synchronization of notes containing certain Unicode characters
  • Sped up wildcard searches (ones with asterisks on the end of the word to match all endings)
  • Fixed a bug in the Toolbox caused by iOS 4.2, in which list selection wasn’t retained
  • Fixed a long-standing and never-reported error in mapping verses from Daniel in the New American Bible to Daniel in the New Revised Standard Version.
  • Did a lot of work under the hood that (hopefully) you can’t see to set us up for some cool new features in version 2.

The wildcard search enhancement is interesting in that it is a direct result of porting the code to Java for Android. As I was going through the code it occurred to me there was a simple and faster way to do it. I implemented it the new way in Java then went back and updated the C++ code for PocketBible so it would have the same enhancement. This particular update also made it into an update of PocketBible for Windows back in October. Just one more way that Android is making the world a better place, I guess. :-)

Don’t get too excited about the mention of version 2. We haven’t said much about it yet and won’t be saying much for a while. I only mention the changes in case we happen to have broken something in the process. That will be our excuse. :-)

What we’ve done is completely re-written the way PocketBible keeps track of what Bibles and books are installed, and how it categorizes those books. For example, we weren’t differentiating between a “Bible” and a “Strong’s-numbered Bible”, nor between a “Dictionary” and a “Strong’s Dictionary”. We are now.

That particular change was needed for these new features I alluded to, but it also will come in handy for Android. I was going to have to do the same thing in the Java code. This way I don’t have to design it; I can just translate Jeff’s work. Thanks, Jeff!

In an unrelated bit of news, look for a new website design coming from us soon. We’re hoping to make it easier to find your way around; easier to buy books; and easier to work with your download account. We’re also making the site easier for us to maintain by reducing the overall number of hand-coded pages from a couple thousand down to a couple dozen. The rest are generated by scripts that run against a database. If you have an iPhone you’ve seen it already but don’t know it; the same technology underlies the “PocketBible Bookstore” that is built into PocketBible for iPhone.

PocketBible 1.3.0 for iPad/iPhone Released to Beta Testers

Posted on: May 2nd, 2010 by Craig Rairdin 30 Comments

We took step one of getting our iPad version of PocketBible released by handing it off to our beta testers this afternoon. We have one known issue we’re still working on, plus whatever our testers find in the next few days.

Our intention (as always) is to have a very brief beta. You never know what you’re going to run into, but the code has been working well for us in-house and we’re hoping the beta testers have the same experience.

As I’ve mentioned before, Apple limits the number of devices we can install to outside the App Store. We have 46 beta testers, many of whom have multiple devices. 14 of them have iPads. That doesn’t include our own employees and company-owned devices. Between all of those we’re right on the edge of not being able to add new devices to our list. With iPhone 4 coming in June we didn’t think it was a good idea to add any beta testers at this point. So you didn’t miss the announcement — there wasn’t one.

While we’ve been promoting this as an iPad version, the fact is that it’s a “universal binary” that runs on both the iPhone and iPad. Many of the new or improved features are also going to be available on the iPhone (and of course, iPod touch). Here’s the feature list in no particular order:

BOTH iPHONE and iPAD

  • User data synchronization with iPocketBible.com server
  • User data backup/restore to iPocketBible.com server
  • Screen brightness setting (Dim the screen for reading at night independent of the backlight setting)
  • Multiple panes (Two for iPhone, five for iPad. View multiple books simultaneously, or multiple passages in the same book)
  • Decreased page-loading time (thus launch time)
  • Splash screen now covers window drawing, then fades (OK, not exactly a feature, but it’s cool)
  • Gradiated title bars
  • Calculator-style go-to for Bibles (Select the book, then use numeric pad to enter chapter and verse)
  • Notes list now shows excerpt of note instead of excerpt of verse
  • Improved error messages when nothing is found as the result of a search. Try to tell you how to fix it.
  • Updated help

iPAD

  • Control panel (Keeps search results and lists of notes, highlights and bookmarks available all the time.)
    • Library search (All searches search your entire library, not just the active book)
    • Notes search (Search your notes using Boolean operators, just like you search the Bible)
    • Book notes (Add notes to non-Bibles)
    • Edit note while using program (Makes it easier to copy/paste verses into your notes)
    • View search results, lists of highlights/bookmarks while using program
    • Lock panes so they don’t sync to content movement (Handy while writing notes or following cross-references out of a search)
  • Additional margin and leading in single-book view (Makes for a pleasant reading experience)
  • Bk/Ch/Vs go-to has bigger buttons for iPad; laid out 10 buttons wide
  • Removed “lock rotation” setting. iPad has a hardware switch for this.
  • New title bar style

 

I’ll post more screen shots and videos this week. Your patience will pay off in the end. :-)

iPad Update

Posted on: March 27th, 2010 by Craig Rairdin 26 Comments

With the WiFi iPads shipping for delivery in less than a week, I thought we should update you on our status.

Today (March 27) is the last day to submit apps to the App Store and be guaranteed they’ll be available on the iPad App Store on its official release date (April 3). For a while that was our goal, but as time went on we realized it would be in everyone’s best interest if we had a chance to see what PocketBible looked like on the actual hardware. The emulator we run on our Macs is good, but it’s not the real hardware. We’re concerned about performance and simple things like the usability of the user interface, given that we can’t really tell how big our buttons are or what it’s going to “feel” like on a real device until we have one in our hands.

So, we won’t release a product to the App Store until we have a chance to see it running on real hardware. So that means sometime after April 3.

The great thing about the iPad is that it runs our iPhone code pretty much as-is. The bad thing is that it runs our iPhone code as-is. The experience of running an iPhone app on the iPad will be less than optimum, but it at least will give the iPad a couple hundred thousand apps on day one. Ideally, every iPhone developer will be customizing their apps for the iPad, and that’s what we’ve been doing.

While the iPad is a mobile device, it has the screen real estate of a desktop or laptop device (1024 x 768). That means while we’re using our iPhone code as a base, we have to think like we’re developing for the desktop. Not a desktop computer with a mouse and a real keyboard, though, but a desktop computer you operate with your fingers and type on a pop-up keyboard. So the interface is an interesting intersection of desktop and mobile paradigms.

So what will be new or different on the iPad? First, You’ll have plenty of space on the screen for some controls to be present all the time, just like on your desktop where menus and toolbars are generally always there. This makes it easier and more intuitive to get around.

Second, the bigger screen means there’s room to split the screen and show you more than one book at a time if you want.

Third, we’ve taken advantage of this opportunity to add a frequently requested feature: The ability to search your entire library at one time. The larger screen means there’s room to give you both a search results browser and a library browser at the same time. We think this is going to be a great addition to the program.

Finally, you can expect changes to how you open books and navigate within books. It should take fewer touches to find your way around your library.

We’ll post some more details as we get closer to releasing the product. With the actual release of the iPad itself coming up, we just wanted to give you some advance notice of what’s coming. We think you’re going to like it.

Are You a “Fan” or a “Follower”?

Posted on: January 1st, 2010 by Craig Rairdin No Comments

If you’re on Facebook, you can become a fan of PocketBible. Just sign up here: www.facebook.com/PocketBible. PocketBible fans on Facebook sometimes receive special offers and are among the first to receive our announcements. Plus, by being a fan, you share your appreciation of the Bible and PocketBible with your Facebook friends in a non-threatening way.

If you Twitter, you can follow us at www.twitter.com/PocketBible. Our official tweats sometimes include special offers, sometimes announcements, and occasionally some “insider” information. Plus, when you think we say something interesting, you can retweat to let your followers know.

Additionally, you can follow some of our staff via their personal accounts for some more insight into what we are working on (or our quirky opinions about life). The PocketBible Twitter account follows some of our staff, so you can easily find us from the PocketBible page at Twitter. Just click the “following” link.

Laridian’s Palm Pre Plans

Posted on: October 19th, 2009 by Craig Rairdin 104 Comments

We’re announcing today that we’ve signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Bits of God Software to be the exclusive provider of Bibles and other reference materials for an upcoming version of the popular Simple Bible application for the Palm Pre. Once completed, this will give current Laridian customers who have chosen the Palm Pre as their mobile platform access to the Bibles and reference books they already own for other platforms. It will also give new Simple Bible users immediate access to one of the largest collections of Bible-related content for mobile devices. The new program from Bits of God Software, currently referred to as Simple Bible Pro, will allow users to download new Bibles and reference content directly into the program from their account on Laridian’s site.

As we’ve said here before, programming for the Pre is a whole new challenge. Our existing code that runs on Windows Mobile, iPhone, Windows desktop, and Palm OS really gives us no leverage on the Pre. With that in mind we sought a partner, and when it comes to Bible software on the Pre, the guys at Bits of God are the best. We’re pretty excited about partnering with them.

Our current agreement is “an agreement to agree” so there are many details to be worked out yet. We’ve agreed in principle on most of the more difficult points of our relationship, so we don’t anticipate any problems. The important thing is that it looks like current PocketBible and MyBible customers will have a migration path if they choose the Pre, and that Simple Bible Pro will get a jump start over other Bible software on the device by having access to Laridian’s growing library of content.

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