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Archive for October, 2011

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. :-)

PocketBible 2 for iOS Now Available in the App Store

Posted on: October 4th, 2011 by Craig Rairdin 65 Comments

By the time you read this, PocketBible 2 for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch should be available in the App Store. It introduces several new features and a new pricing scheme.

Quick Summary for the Horribly Impatient

PocketBible 2 is called “PocketBible” in the App Store. It is a free download. PocketBible 1 (“PocketBible FREE” in the App Store) is no longer available in the App Store. YOU MUST DOWNLOAD THE NEW POCKETBIBLE FROM THE APP STORE IN ORDER TO GET THE ADVANCED FEATURES MENTIONED BELOW. Some of you are trying use the feature set upgrade on the old PocketBible FREE 1.4.7. That won’t work. You must download the new PocketBible from the App store in order to get the advanced features mentioned below. There’s a link to PocketBible 2 in the next paragraph.

Click here to download the new version of PocketBible. (NOTE: Do not skip this step!)

The free version of PocketBible 2 has pretty much the same features as PocketBible 1.4.7 (one exception is described below). To get the new features, you need to purchase the “Advanced Feature Set” either at our website ($4.99) or through In-App Purchase inside the app ($5.99).

After you purchase the upgrade at our website, go to “Buy/Apply Upgrade” inside the app to apply the upgrade and enable the advanced features. You must provide your Laridian login credentials during this step so the program can find your purchase on our website.

If you have notes, highlights, bookmarks, or devotional reading progress you want to preserve, you need to move that data to your new copy of PocketBible using the process described below (and also in the built-in help). To get your Bibles and books into the new version, you need to simply download them using Menu > Add/Remove Books.

All PocketBible users should switch to the new version even if you don’t upgrade to the Advanced Feature Set. The old version of PocketBible will not be updated and has been removed from the App Store.

New Features in Free Version

The free version of PocketBible 2 has essentially the same features as PocketBible 1.4.7. The only significant new feature in the free version is related to expanding the Toolbox. In version 1, the expanded toolbox covered the Bible text. When we first implemented the expanding Toolbox, we figured it would be a temporary action. However, we’ve found that we prefer to have the Toolbox expanded while entering notes, and it’s inconvenient to have to collapse it to view the BIble text. So now PocketBible moves the active pane to the empty space above/below/next to the expanded Toolbox. And if the keyboard obscures part of the pane, the pane is shrunk again to fit in the available space.

All PocketBible users should switch to PocketBible 2. Version 1 has been removed from the App Store and won’t be updated. To make sure you get the latest bug fixes and updates, you should make the switch now to version 2 even if you’re not planning to purchase the Advanced Feature Set. This unfortunate circumstance is the result of the way Apple has us sign and identify applications.

Advanced Features

To access the advanced features in PocketBible 2, you need to purchase the “Advanced Feature Set” — either inside the app for $5.99 or directly on our website for $4.99. Advanced features include:

  • Automatic verse studies. Select a verse and PocketBible prepares an HTML or plain-text document chock full of information about that verse from your Library. This file can be viewed from within PocketBible, transferred to your Windows or Mac computer through iTunes, printed using AirPrint, or copied and pasted to an email. Each Verse Autostudy report includes:
    • The text of the selected verse from all your Bibles (you choose which ones)
    • The text of the selected verse with Strong’s numbers (if you own one of our Bibles with Strong’s numbers)
    • The definition of each English word in the verse from all of your dictionaries (you choose which ones)
    • The definition of each Strong’s word number from your Strong’s dictionaries (you choose which ones)
    • Commentary on the verse from all your commentaries (you choose which ones)
    • Cross references from the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (if you have it installed)
  • Automatic word studies. Select a word and PocketBible prepares a similar HTML document, this time with information about the selected word. Each Word Autostudy report includes:
    • Definition of the selected word from all of your dictionaries (you choose which ones)
    • A summary of search results from selected Bibles (you choose which ones)
    • A list of related Strong’s numbers (original language words translated to the selected word)
    • Definitions of the related Strong’s word numbers (you select which Strong’s dictionaries)
  • Synthesized voices read any Bible or book to you. Purchase a voice from a selection of six English and three Spanish voices, and PocketBible will read to you! Works with any of your Bibles or other books, does not require an internet connection once the voice is installed, and takes only about 50MB-75MB (compared to
    4000MB for a pre-recorded audio Bible). Start a playlist of hymns and have PocketBible read to you from the Psalms for an inspiring time of daily devotions. Or have PocketBible read while you do other tasks on your iPad. No other mobile Bible program can do all that.
  • New tabbed view. Both iPhone and iPad now support up to five panes (iPhone was previously only two panes) and you can choose to view five full-screen tabs instead of splitting the screen into panes. Just select a tab to view the books open in that tab.
  • Automatically open all your books into tabs. PocketBible will open Bibles, commentaries, dictionaries, devotionals, and “other” books each into their own tabs for easy access to your entire library.
  • AirPrint support (iOS 4.2 or later). Print Autostudy reports, passages, or selected text to your AirPrint-capable printer.
  • Improved text selection. Drag through any text to select it. Copy, print, speak, or perform other operations on the selected text. Uses familiar iOS interface components (such as the magnifying glass and lollipop-shaped “drag handles”). (This seems obvious but we had to implement them from scratch as Apple doesn’t expose those components to developers, so it seems worth mentioning.)
  • Highlight selected verses. Highlight more than one verse at a time by dragging through any portion of the verses, then select “Highlight selected verses”. You can’t highlight portions of a verse, but you can highlight more than one verse at a time.

Apple Changed the Rules

As many of you know, Apple now requires that ebook apps like ours must not link to a website for add-on book sales, but must use Apple’s In-App Purchasing (IAP) capability and pay Apple 30% of each sale for doing little more than processing a credit card (which costs them about 3%). Amazon responded to this by entirely removing all links to their website from their Kindle app. We opted to implement Apple’s IAP but at a slightly higher price to offset Apple’s fee. (You’ll pay on average about 17.6% more for a book you buy using IAP vs. purchasing direct on our site, which results in us splitting the 30% fee 50/50. The proof is left for the reader.)

This would have very little consequence except that PocketBible 1.4.7 was created in a way that prevented it from ever using IAP. As a result, version 2 could not simply be a new version of the existing “PocketBible FREE” application. Instead it had to be a separate product. This is confusing for those of you upgrading from version 1, but should not be a problem in the future.

Moving Your Notes, Highlights, Bookmarks and Daily Reading Progress to the New Program

Since PocketBible 2 is a different program than PocketBIble 1, you will need to move any notes, highlights, bookmarks, and daily reading progress that you want to keep from PocketBible 1. Again, this is only necessary if you have data you want to preserve. To do that:

  • Launch the old version of PocketBible. Verify it’s the old one by looking at the version number at the bottom of the menu. Next to “About PocketBible” it should say “1.x.x” (the latest version is 1.4.7).
  • Choose Menu > Manage My Data.
  • Enter your Laridian login credentials and select either “Sync My Data With Server” (if you’ve been sync’ing your data with the server in the past) or “Back Up My Data To Server”. Note that if you have been keeping your data in sync with the server and you know it is up to date, you can skip this step.
  • When that is complete, exit PocketBible and launch the new PocketBible program.
  • Verify you are in the new PocketBible program by going to the bottom of the menu. Next to “About PocketBible” it should say “2.0.0” (or later).
  • If you have not yet registered, do so now. (You’ll see “Register PocketBible” near the top of the menu if you haven’t registered.)
  • Choose Menu > Manage My Data.
  • Enter your Laridian login credentials and select either “Sync My Data With Server” (if that’s what you did in version 1) or Restore From a Backup (if you used “Back Up My Data To Server” above). If you are restoring from a back up, you’ll be presented with a list of backup sets. Find the section labelled with the name of your device followed by “com.laridian.PocketBible” and choose the top item from that list (the most recent backup).
  • When that is complete, you have transferred your personal notes, highlights, etc. to PocketBible 2. You can remove the old PocketBible program from your device and download Bibles and reference books into PocketBIble 2.

Some Screen Shots

Here are some quick screen shots to give you an idea of some of the new and improved features.

Bible text now moves out of the way of the expanded toolbox, making it easier to take notes and follow along in the text at the same time.

New text selection method that lets you select any text. Also note the tabbed interface. Choose “Open All Books” to open your books into categorized tabs. (Advanced Feature Set)

Here I’ve finished selecting the text and the menu appears. The old “context menu” is still available by selecting “Menu”. To get options that apply to the selected text, choose “Selection Actions”. (Advanced Feature Set)

Selected text can be copied to the pasteboard, printed, emailed, sent by text message, spoken (if you have a voice installed) or looked up in a dictionary. (Advanced Feature Set)

Select “Autostudy Verse” from the context menu to quickly find everything in your library about a particular verse. You can do a similar study on any word. (Advanced Feature Set)

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