The Story Behind the PocketBible NET Bible

Posted on: January 11th, 2010 by Craig Rairdin 11 Comments

We’ve known about the NET Bible since its beginnings, and several years ago we licensed the NET Bible for use in our products. We knew the Bible had extensive notes but didn’t think that would be a problem for PocketBible.

We put one of our employees to work on it and after several months it became clear that the challenges it presented were going to be greater than the potential revenue we could gain from it would justify. The problems were related to converting the original language references in the notes from a variety of proprietary fonts into the standard Unicode notation we use in PocketBible. I don’t recall all the details but do recall a meeting in which we decided to just drop the project.

A year or so later we heard from a programmer who had extensive experience with the NET Bible and wondered why we hadn’t yet made it available. I explained the issues and he said he’d be happy to tackle it. I sent him everything he needed to tag the NET Bible and notes for PocketBible. He asked a couple questions over the next week or two, but then disappeared. The NET Bible had taken another victim.

Then last November I heard from David Richards. David is a long-time Laridian customer and a fan of the NET Bible. He had been experimenting with our BookBuilder program, which allows anyone to create reference materials that are compatible with PocketBible, and wondered if we had plans to publish the NET Bible. I told him the story and warned him of the bodies it had left in its path. He seemed undeterred, so we came to terms on a price for his work and he set out to work on it. I figured that would be the last we’d hear from him, and went about my business.

Surprisingly, when I heard from David it wasn’t to ask questions. It was to give me samples from what he had gotten done. Before long he had made it through all 60,000 notes. We ran a brief test with a group of testers left over from PocketBible for iPhone and after just one update the NET Bible was ready to ship.

I wanted to tell you David’s story for a couple reasons. First is that we’re pretty excited about finally having the NET Bible and know what an accomplishment it was for him. He deserves a little recognition for his efforts.

Second is that David’s is a story we’ve seen play out a couple of times in the past and we’d like to see it happen more often. We’ll be releasing a collection of reference books in the next couple of weeks that were tagged by another customer who got interested in BookBuilder a year or two ago and has since tagged a couple of projects for us after doing some of his own. Our A.W. Pink, F.B. Meyer, and Andrew Murray collections were tagged by a customer, as was the Dake Study Bible Notes.

Of course tagging books isn’t for everyone. It usually requires extensive use of what’s called “pattern matching”, “regular expression”, or “grep” search-and-replace operations to convert a book from whatever format it might be to begin with into our HTML-based format for BookBuilder. You need to have a head for details and it doesn’t hurt to have a little programming background.

David and each of these other taggers are being compensated in some way for their work. We’d love to add you to our list of available taggers for new projects. You can get the standard BookBuilder program for $29.99 and see if it’s something you want to try. We have an inexhaustible list of books that need to be tagged. Maybe you have a favorite commentary series or reference title you’d like to see in PocketBible. Rather than wait for us to get around to it, why not volunteer to do it yourself?

Feel free to contact me directly if you’re interested:

11 Responses

  1. Joel says:

    After several years of basic programming in high school, I pretty much only remember

    10 PRINT “My name is Joel.”
    20 GOTO 10
    30 END

    So based on my expertise programming background, I’m probably not going to be able to help, but I’m looking forward to more PB books!

  2. Ed says:

    Just an FYI – line 30 will ever get executed.

  3. I was going to say something but I hate to squash someone’s enthusiasm. 🙂

  4. Dale says:

    Which is why I think he said he wouldn’t be able to help. I used to use the book builder program for mobipocket and code books with html tags (i know it wasn’t necessary, but it helped with the formatting), but I don’t think I have the time for something like that anymore.

  5. Will says:

    Why is someone criticizing Joel? I don’t find the need to point out this error. Somehow it appears craig and ed have the need. Craig, you could have not responded. I think an apology is in order from both of you. One still can be honorable. WWJD

    I lead a Friday morning bible study and a new person attended and mentioned that even Jesus got upset. He was serious when he said Jesus thru the Philistines out of the temple.

    I did not say a word. Like previously mentioned, don’t find need to be critical and curb someones enthusiasm. I don’t think he would have been back if I would have corrected him.

    I am not a pastor, I’m in insurance sales but write software as a hobby.

  6. denise barnhart says:

    When you sent your email saying you could get NET for PocketBible, I wasn’t too sure (already had it on 2 other packages). The copy didn’t say if the notes were separate from the Bible (so can scroll). But the price was good so I took a chance and sure enough, they’re separate (Bible/notes). But they don’t scroll! Please, please beg David to include the TOC verse tags (in addition to the chapter tags). NET’s also my favorite (along with PB) due to the notes.

  7. Will: Joel, Ed, and I are all having fun. Joel’s original post is an inside-programming joke. Nobody is criticizing him. 🙂

    Denise: The notes we receive from publisher do not contain the information that would be required to accurately synchronize the note file with the Bible verse-by-verse. We’ve passed that suggestion back to them for consideration in a future release.

  8. Bruce Gilliland says:

    In your original January 11 post, you said that you would be releasing a collection of reference books “in the next couple of weeks.” Any chance that will be soon? I am asking because I just found out (belately) that Zondervan is dropping its own software program and that Logos was going to start selling their line of electronic books. Zondervan’s news release said Zondervan “will license other search engines, including the leader Logos Bible Software.” That sounds like others might also get to sell the books. I have the Zondervan program and a number of books, but I would like to get my books into the fewest number of programs possible – mainly PocketBible. Before I convert, I want to see what my options are.

  9. We had a little delay on that particular collection but expect it to be out soon. It’s not from Zondervan.

    We’ve talked to Zondervan about their titles. Because they’ve been selling their titles only as a part of their own software for so long they’re still coming to terms with all of the issues related to publishing in other formats. We’re helping them understand what those issues are and how best to move forward.

  10. Bruce Gilliland says:

    Craig, thanks for the feedback. I will wait to hear from Laridian on the new releases.

  11. Tim Cox says:

    Are there any plans to make Laridian books kindle compatible?

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