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iPocketBible for iPhone – Sneak Preview

Posted on: July 23rd, 2007 by Craig Rairdin 81 Comments

Please note the date on this post. Read our more recent posts on the iPhone for more up-to-date information.


iPocketBible Screen Shot

Since the whole idea for this product kind of grew out of these blog articles and comments, it seems only fair that we post some kind of a progress report. So…

We’ve posted a short video of me demonstrating iPocketBible on the iPhone. It’s at www.iPocketBible.com. Choose either the WMV version or the QuickTime version. If your browser is set up right it should start playing without waiting to download the entire file. Otherwise you’re in for a short wait.

The screen shot to the left was actually done using Safari on a PC. It looks similar, but not exactly like, the program running on an iPhone. For one thing, on the PC there is a scrollbar on the right. Actually I thought I photoshopped that scrollbar out of there but I see now it’s still there. Oh, well. Pretend it’s not.

This product has been interesting to work on. When you sit back and think about it you think, “This shouldn’t take more than a week.” Then you start in on it and there seems to be no shortage of obstacles. Perhaps the biggest is maintaining some kind of login and subscription management system. The idea is that you’ll pay a nominal fee for access to the program and you’ll have access to all the content (Bibles and reference books) you already own for PocketBible, MyBible, or our other readers. And if you want to add a Bible or a commentary you just purchase it and it shows up on your iPhone. That’s taking some effort to put together.

None of the content actually resides on your phone. But when running iPocketBible, especially in a WiFi environment, you won’t notice much of a difference in speed as compared to, say, MyBible running on your Treo.

I’m working on notes, bookmarks, and highlights right now. That’s another harder-than-expected effort. We have to store all your user-created data somewhere on our server and not get it mixed up with everyone else’s.

So enjoy the preview; I’ll try to shoot another video soon with even more features, then hopefully have the product up for you to check out Real Soon Now. Hopefully the preview will keep you entertained for a while. And perhaps keep your mind off asking what else is coming from Laridian in the near future. Stay tuned!

81 Responses

  1. Robert Mullen says:

    As a technologist (and a Christian) I would like to applaud you for your efforts. The iPhone presents a compelling package with some curious compromises and I very much look forward to having my Bible content available to it. Can I ask how EDGE performance is? I have found that a good deal of the time I am using WiFi but will need to access by EDGE at times.

  2. I mostly use iPocketBible in a WiFi environment, either here at home or at the church, so I seldom get to experience the EDGE network. It’s slower but it’s not that bad. We’re not transferring large amounts of data — just the minimum for each activity. We use AJAX technology to update only the main portion of the display, so it downloads a chapter at a time if you’re just stepping through the text.

    Of course all the hard stuff happens back on the server. We run SQL Server on a dedicated box and find that it’s amazingly fast just pulling up pages and doing searches. So, for example, when you do a search the only thing that comes to us is a few parameters (what you’re looking for and the options you’ve chosen) then we give you back just the results as a snippet of HTML without the overhead of a full HTML page or all the UI elements. That gets rendered into the existing page and it all happens pretty quickly.

  3. Antoine of MMM says:

    Looks great Craig (and Laridian). Looking forward to the release and any other elements you all see fit to throw in here. I think there’s really good potential to change the game a good bit in terms of Bible readers. Many blessings on your continued work.

  4. John King says:

    Please keep me posted on the products progress and release date for the ipocketbible for the ipnone. Will there be a standard bible format for the Iphone or will it be the NLT version.

    Thanks,

    JK

  5. John,

    As mentioned in the video, you’ll be able to access your entire library of books. Remember we know what you own so when you log in using your customer ID and password we’ll be able to give you access on your phone to all the resources you’ve purchased from us for any platform.

    Craig

  6. Lawson says:

    I’m very excited about this… but one thing I noticed when I was making my iPhone bible is that the text appeared MUCH smaller on the iPhone than I had expected. That even includes the fact that I was using iPhoney (a Macintosh program that makes Safari look like an iPhone.)

    The feature that I’m most interested in is how we’ll be able to use Strong’s numbers in the NASB.

  7. David Doyle says:

    Craig,
    This looks awesome – thanks for allowing people like me with resources on both platforms to access them. Can’t wait!

    Dave

  8. Robert Mullen says:

    I do like the thought of having access to all my purchased resources automatically. Any hint of release date or subscription fee range?

  9. Doug Richardson says:

    The IPhone is the most impressive innovation I have seen in the personal technology arena and the addition of the bible software access will top it off. May the Lord continue to bless your work to make God’s Word available in this fashion. Please keep me updated. Thanks.

  10. MarcT says:

    Nice! Way to listen to your customers and tackle a new problem domain with speed and cleverness. Now only the wife stands between me and that iPhone! =)

  11. Marc Thompson says:

    looks great!!!!!!! I also would like strong’s Numbers available. When? When? Will you be able to update as new features become available. Do you need any testers?

  12. Release date is soon and subscription fee is affordable.

  13. John Brock says:

    Hi Craig. Thanks for your work. I’m truly excited about this product. Every day I’m saying “wow” about the iphone capabilities–but it is but dung compared to God’s Word. To be able to have both together is a real blessing. I bet it broke your heart to have to get an iphone –for your job of course. How many did Laridian buy?

  14. We have three. And yes, it did break my heart to have to get an iPhone. And my budget.

  15. Bill says:

    Hi Craig. I really hope this works out. I was kinda looking forward to having my books right on my iphone. Since I purchased the iphone i’ve been using another onlne Bible site and its been very slow. Will the books be available in the near future users to access without having to go online with the slow edge technology? For some of us wifi is not an option. I really mis the way I was able to access my books on my treo. Thanks.

  16. I can’t say whether or not Apple is going to open up the phone so we can install apps and Bibles directly on it. That’s up to them. Ironically, the fact that it is closed and we’re forced to implement a Web-based app is what motivated us to do iPocketBible in the first place. We’d been thinking about a Web-based version of our product and had some of the pieces in place already.

    One of the issues with new platforms is that you have to learn a whole new system and a whole new culture for programming. The nice thing about iPhone is that it supports technologies we already knew and understood so there was virtually no learning curve. But even when you have the advantage of already knowing the platform you end up with an application that runs on just one phone. Not one manufacturer or OS, but just one model of phone. That’s a lot of effort to put into just one phone.

    Even with iPhone, it’s not worth developing a Web app if you’re only targetting one phone. So the idea is that we’ll be able to modify the iPocketBible code to work well on other Web-enabled devices, thus increasing the size of the potential market for the product beyond the limited size of the iPhone market.

    This is important for us since we have a niche product. Even though iPhone has a large installed base, a small percentage of them care about Bible software, and a smaller percentage care enough to come looking for us. So the more platforms we can run on, the better.

    All this is to say that we may or may not do a direct port of PocketBible to the iPhone if the platform opens up to allow native apps. What’s more likely is that you’ll see iPocketBible expanded to support more mobile browsers (most of which aren’t anywhere near as capable as iPhone).

  17. Let me add, regarding the speed of EDGE: Remember when you compare another Web-based Bible to iPocketBible you’re not really comparing apples-to-apples. iPocketBible makes use of the infamous Web 2.0 technology to minimize the amount of data that goes over the network.

    So with iPocketBible you’re not downloading the banner across the top of the page, all the navigation links, advertising, etc. that clutters the pages of the current online Bible sites. We retrieve just the bits we need for each request. So once you have the user interface elements (title bar and tool bar) visible, they’re not downloaded again when you go to the next chapter of the Bible or display search results. In fact they’re NEVER downloaded again as long as they stay in the cache in Safari.

    I think you’ll find iPocketBible more responsive over the EDGE network than other Bible sites are.

    Man, we gotta get this thing done so you guys can see it! It’s easier to understand when you’re using it than it is to explain it.

  18. Bill says:

    Thanks Craig, I now have a better understanding of how it works.

  19. Robert Mullen says:

    Man, we gotta get this thing done so you guys can see it! It’s easier to understand when you’re using it than it is to explain it.

    Yes, please!

  20. John Brock says:

    The fact that we all bought iphones the first week indicates that we are challenged in the area of patience. My advice to Craig and the Laridian staff is —to quote my father–WORK HARDER !!

  21. Nathan says:

    Nice work Craig & team. I’m impressed by how far you guys have gotten in the short time it has been.

  22. Philip says:

    The iPocketBible for iPhone looks fantastic. Your Bible software has been something I’ve greatly missed since moving from a PocketPC device to the iPhone. Thanks for all your hard work in making the Bible available to iPhone users.

  23. Michael Lallemont says:

    Will the iPhone version of iPocketBible have Daily Reader? I committed myself to reading the Bible through in a year. I started January 1st and have been faithful up until I bought the iPhone. My Cingular 8125 ran out of juice then and will not run anymore even though I try to recharge it, so I really hope to get back on track as soon as you release this web site.

    Thank you!

  24. Probably the initial version we release won’t have the features that keep track of your reading progress, but it will be able to read DailyReader books. The beauty of a web-deployed app is that you can release it with most features in place then fill in the gaps over time. For example, the initial release will probably not support categorized bookmarks, but that will be easy to add as we continue development on the application.

  25. Timothy Satryan says:

    I have just moved from the pocket pc/WM environment to the iPhone, and I really appreciate the vast technological advances it represents. Losing the use of all my PocketBible products was a huge disadvantage. But, seeing that this iPhoneBible service you are developing is on the horizon, that REALLY makes me happy! The sooner the better for this! Thanks, Craig, for developing this!

  26. Scott Jensen says:

    Another brilliant and welcome move to make mobile electonic Bibles reactive to the technological needs. Craig thanks to you and all of Laradian to keeping up with the ever increasing technolgies and platforms. This is a VERY welcome addition to your already stellar line of products.

  27. Russ Witt says:

    Craig,

    Awesome job as usual! What about Greek and Hebrew Font support?

    Does it really work well over the AT&T data connection? Anywhere?

    I have been using Pocket Bible daily for years. It is one reason why I would not do an iPhone. You seem to have fixed that. Now all I need is a replacement for my password database and I wont have an excuse to not buy and iPhone!

    Does iPhone have something I can use for an encrypted password database like eWallet that I use now?

  28. the iphone doesn’t have Hebrew font support and has only limited Greek support. In fact it doesn’t seem to have any Unicode support, which is dumb in the extreme. We’re leaving our text as-is in anticipation of Unicode support inthe future. So you’ll see boxes in place of Hebew and also in place of Greek diacriticals.

    I’m using my iphone today as I’m on the road. The hotel has wireless but as usyal it’s too weak in my room to be useful. I notice the difference in speed but it’s still very useable.

    Remember there are no native apps running on the iPhone so if you find an ewallet replacement your passwords will be stored on someone’s server.

  29. David Allen says:

    Craig,

    Thank you for all the work you do, and now for taking that work to the iphone. I have not bought an iphone yet, but one huge consideration I had was whether I would be able to use the bible on the thing.

    Russ, a possible answer to your question on password management is here: http://duggmirror.com/apple/Interview_Dave_Teare_on_1Passwd_and_the_iPhone/

    Scroll down to the end of the interview

  30. Urs says:

    This is great! There are two things that the iphone does not handle the way I want. One is books from ereader.com, and the other is the lack of mybible support. I would say this is more important to me of the two :-) Great work. I am eager to see the finished product.

  31. Steve says:

    Craig,

    Looks like if I’m out of connection (like on an airplane) I won’t be able to use it. I have a Treo and I can turn the phone off on a flight and run PalmOS apps like MyBible. That is some of the best time I have for devotional study. You should reconsider and have a database on the iPhone itself.

    Regards, Steve

  32. Sven Rafferty says:

    Craig,

    You’ve got my mouth foaming! How I was just wishing last Sunday in church for PocketBible on my iPhone and here I find, yes, it is indeed coming!

    I’ve helped spread the word via my tech blog that gets a good amount of traffic and may put some more pressure on you to get this released sooner than soon. ;) Take a look at http://www.svenontech.com.

    Thank you, Craig, and I can not wait for the release!

  33. Robert Whitfield says:

    How long before the product is ready? I have had every version you’ve made as I tire quickly with different platforms. however each device had your software.

    Keep up the great work and may God bless your ministry.

  34. John Feikema says:

    As a recent purchaser of your product for the Treo and an even more recent purchaser of the iPhone, I am curious if there is an upgrade (i.e. discount) path?

  35. James Gleason says:

    Now I’m in trouble. I’ve told my wife that the only thing keeping me attached to my Treo is MyBible. Darn it! Now I have no more excuses. Curse you for making me shell out more money for more toys, er, tools.

    Actually, I was SO relieved to get the email today showing the prelease information for this product. I spend more time reading the Bible on my Treo than I do on my paper version. This is a great step foward for all iPhone users-and soon to be users. Cheers!

  36. Dave Garda says:

    Thanks for your great products… I can’t wait to run the web 2.0 app on my iphone.

  37. Sorry for the delay. I was out of town for a couple days and didn’t have much time for blog comments.

    Steve: You’re right that NONE of your third-party iPhone apps will work on an airplane. This includes iPocketBible and everything else that is being developed for the iPhone. This is because the iPhone is a closed platform. We can’t install any software on it. The only thing you can do with it is use it as a very mobile Web browser, which it’s very good at.

    Sven: Thanks for the positive comments on your blog. I hope we don’t disappoint. I should point out that I owe a big debt of credit to Jim Coates, who is our IT director/webmaster. (What is Jim’s title anyway? I don’t remember. He does all things webbish.) Anyway, Jim has suddenly found his Web programming skills to be useful for something other than our site. He is doing all the UI stuff and most of the back-end processing that allows you to access your PocketBible/MyBible library from iPocketBible.

    John: We haven’t announced any pricing plan yet. This is going to be a difficult product for us to discount — it’s a difficult product for us to sell period because it will require monthly transactions to maintain your subscription. So the question is, is it worth going to a lot of trouble to give you your $2/month subscription for $1.60/month for six months or something? Would 40 cents be the difference for you between subscribing and not? Remember you’re not paying again for content — anything you’ve purchased for your Treo will be accessible from your iPhone. (At least that’s the current plan. There could be issues that would keep us from offering certain titles. Right now they look OK though.)

  38. Bill Randall says:

    Bravo! Great start! I got my iPhone under the pretense of my Palm TX screen going south :) Not having easy access to my Bible has been a struggle. Keep up the great work!

    With 8Gb of space (and probably more to come…), maybe it won’t be long before Apple allows us to download info like a true PDA. Evene with a iGb card, my Palm only is using about 300 mB of space for Bibles, Strong’s, dictionary, contacts, etc. Seems like 8 Gb of space would be plenty.

  39. Dave Z says:

    This is a great solution to Apple’s unwillingness to allow third party apps. I know I will sign up for sure; however, to no fault of Laridian, it doesn’t provide a solution when wireless networks (cellular or wifi) are unavailable. I think we should all leave Apple feedback encouraging them to work with Laridian to develop a built-in solution:

    http://www.apple.com/feedback/iphone.html

    Craig and team, great work all around. I can’t wait for you to go live with it!

  40. Bill Sprague says:

    As a long-time Laridian user, not having it on the iPhone was a deal breaker. Thus, even though I’m a Mac user, I couldn’t justify the expense of the iPhone. Now it looks like we’ll have our cake…. we can listen to the iPod version on the iPhone and study on iPhone using iPocketBible. Good job Craig. You’re in our prayers as you move forward.

  41. Sarah says:

    I am sooo thrilled!!! I particularly LOVE that I will still be able to access my library of already purchased books (I used Palm OS for many years and invested a LOT of money in your products that I thought would be useless when I got an iphone). That is really friendly and nice of you guys. One bit of feedback on UI… the toolbar at the bottom isn’t very sleek/apple-like/iphone-esq (sorry for the made up words!). Particularly the primary color buttons reminds me of children’s building blocks, or at least more like windows mobile than an apple product. Other than those minor things, I think you have really done a great job of this and can’t wait to try it out. I would love to be a beta tester if you have openings! Thanks so much for doing this project.

  42. I can tell you haven’t spent a lot of time running Windows Mobile. It has a menu across the bottom (where it belongs on a phone, not across the top where the screen is blocked by your hand whenever you use it). It has no colorful buttons. It’s all menus and dialog boxes like the desktop version of Windows.

    There’s no iPhone UI standard (because there are no iPhone apps) so there’s not much to go on. If it becomes a stumbling block for people it’s trivial to change them all to standard gray or iPhone powder blue.

    Anyway glad to hear you’re interested in the product.

  43. Shawn Storkamp says:

    I am not sure if I am excited about this. I have been wanting a new iphone, but am stuck with sprint for another year under my contract. And I kept telling myself that I would miss reading the bible on my phone if I got the iphone. It is the only application that the iphone doesn’t have that I would want it to have. So, now you are making me want to get an iphone even more. Thanks for your work on this.

  44. Marc Thompson says:

    When,when,when,when,when

  45. Kay Clinard says:

    Any chance that in the future the package will reside in the memory of the iPhone? I am at times…ie in church without access to the EDGE system.

    Kindest regards…kc

  46. Marc: Soon, soon, soon.

    Kay: It’s unlikely that we’ll create a native iPhone app. Assuming they open the phone up (which is anybody’s guess at this time) then we’re faced with the issue of having to write a Bible program that will only run on one platform. We’ve found from experience that that is an iffy proposition.

    The real reason we can justify an iPhone app is that it gives us a Web-based app that will eventually run on all Web-enabled phones. So going native on the iPhone is actually the opposite of our strategy.

    It would be possible to get just the text of the Bible onto the phone by pre-loading the cache, but that rules out searching, annotations, highlights, etc. For that you need some processing power somewhere, not just text.

    I’m surprised to hear that you don’t have AT&T coverage at your church. I thought they were supposed to have some kind of great network. :-)

  47. Dave Z says:

    Kay: We have the same issue in our church (the walls don’t really allow for good cellular signals). I setup a wifi access point to provide free Internet to anyone in the main meeting place (sanctuary/auditorium). I use a simple service like OpenDNS.com to help ensure inappropriate content is inaccessible (and with a static IP address (on the WAN/Internet side) you can actually customize quite a bit of what a user has access to). The downside is that if the user is technical-minded they’ll know to use their own DNS servers. But it’s a good solution for us and I’m sure many others. I also have the luxury of two things: broadband Internet at church, and a tech-loving senior pastor (also a Laridian customer). :)

  48. Rhonda K says:

    Thank you for your work on this project, and especially for letting me know about it. I’m still trying to justify the spendy purchase of my iPhone and this sure helps! Can’t wait. Keep us posted.

  49. John Brock says:

    I’m sure I am going to reveal my tech ignorance here, but since the iphone is both a internet device and an Ipod, and since Laridian already has the capibility of an ipod version of the Bible, could not a ipod version of the resources we use serve as a backup when acess to the internet is unavailable? I only noted one ipod version of the Bible available–are any more planned? How much space do they take up?

  50. Our iPod product contains the text of the Bible in iPod Notes format and the audio in MP3 format. The iPhone can play the MP3 audio, but it does not include the Notes application so the text would not be available.

    We’re planning on doing more iPod Bibles. I have one sitting right here on my desk that is close to going out but the desktop and iPhone products are ahead of it in line. We have another that is in contract negotiation.

    The iPod Bibles take up a lot of MP3 space, maybe around 3-4 GB. The text is only about 5MB.

  51. John Brock says:

    Frankly, I would be more interested in the text versions. My Choice would be the good old KJV and one of the more literal Modern Translations. With that and the iBible I could duplicate 90% of my old PDA usage. Plus I still have the PDA for serious home study which I don’t tend to do at Church. Just curious–According to your vision, how much of the functionality of Pocket 3, on a IPAQ would you expect iBible to duplicate? Frankly as I continue to configure all the features of iphone I am more and more impressed. That is rare–I tend to by into the hype and then be let down. The IBible will be a real blessing. I echo all who thank you for your work–this is much more than any other software provides–food for the soul. It is easy to waste time on temporal things, but can anyone ever feel bad for having lost track of time when exploring the riches of His word?

  52. Here are some features of PocketBible for Pocket PC that we won’t be duplicating on the iPhone, at least in the initial version of the program:

    * Greek and Hebrew fonts (not present on the iPhone)
    * Clipboard functions (iPhone has no clipboard)
    * Multiple windows
    * Boolean searching (we do ALL/ANY/EXACT instead of AND/OR/etc.)
    * Limit searches to highlighted verses; limit searches to bookmarked verses
    * Devotional reading tracking (keeping track of what you’ve read)
    * Bookmark categories

    These are listed in order of most difficult to least difficult to duplicate on the iPhone. Boolean searching is not an iPhone limitation but rather is a limit that’s brought on by the database we use. It’s significantly faster to do the searches we currently support on the iPhone than to implement a full AND/OR/NOT/XOR search with nested parenthesis, wild cards, etc.

    The iPhone excels at Web browsing. Its phone capabilities are average to below average. But it has a great Google Maps implementation, nice iPod features, and a terrific Web browser. If you have the money to spend it’s a fun phone.

  53. Nathan says:

    Craig, maybe a little inspiration. This search engine progressively loads search results as you scroll down.
    http://nofoodhere.com

    Not sure if it’s doable on iPhone, but possibly. On the minus side, the site crashed Safari 2.x for me… but it did work on Firefox. Hopefully that sort of thing is doable on iPhone… maybe you’ve already gotten past this point though.

  54. Timothy Satryan says:

    Craig, any idea of a launch date yet? I am quite excited to get this addition to my iPhone!

  55. I was hoping to have the iPhone product done by now but we’ve had to dedicate more resources to our desktop product than I thought we would. In particular, the work that needs to be done on the server to support placing orders for iPocketBible is being delayed by needs related to PocketBible for Windows.

    Right now it’s looking like PocketBible for Windows will ship first, then iPocketBible. I’m guessing before the end of the month at this point.

  56. John Brock says:

    Soooo…it sounds like the development work on the product is about done? Any possibility of updating the sneak peak? Does it look any different? Even my wife is excited about this product.

  57. There are a few little changes since the last update but a lot of the work we’ve been doing in the last two weeks is on the server side, both e-commerce and the book database. I was waiting to update the video until there were a few more cosmetic changes done that we know we want to do but just haven’t done yet.

    Be patient. Good things come to those who wait.

  58. bladecody says:

    Hurry…hurry….hurry!!! I am awaiting the purchase of my iphone until this software comes out for it since I use my phone and my Bible as one. I’m really wanitng it bad…..hehehe!

  59. bjh says:

    Please keep me posted when you guys make this happen, thanks and God Bless

  60. bjh says:

    Can’t wait

  61. Wesley Walls says:

    Just fantastic that you guys are supporting this device. It really is ground-breaking, and workable Bible software is all that’s missing to make this the perfect device. Can’t wait…thanks Laridian (Oh, and per numerous web articles today, iPhone sales appear to be quite solid…I’m certain this will prove to be a good move on your part).

  62. Marc Thompson says:

    Pocketbible for windows is out, so are you thinking the next couple of weeks? Before Sept?

  63. Give us a couple days to see how PocketBible for Windows is going, then get re-tasked. We’re actually still working on Windows-related tasks such as finalizing the setup program that will go on the USB drives we configure here and handling the initial wave of problems that are always present when you release a new version of software.

    But, yes, after that we immediately turn our focus back to the iPhone (at least a couple of us do, with the rest working on sync providers for PocketBible for Windows) with the goal being to get it out ASAP. It will probably be short a couple features but that’s OK because of the nature of the app. We can get it going and then finish it up and everyone automatically gets the latest version the next time they run. It’s not like a desktop or PDA app where you have to distribute a new executable to everyone.

    We’ll post an update to the blog next week to let you know what’s going on.

  64. Lonnie Perkins says:

    I echo the sentiments of [Wesley Walls comments: August 21st, 2007 at 11:20 pm]
    And with this being my birthday week, I’m thinking this would be a GREAT time to release this!! .. ok, for me anyway. =^ )

    Thanks for your work on this, Craig. I have LOVED My Bible and The Daily Reader on the Treo for years and can’t wait to have it on my new iPhone. May God bless your labor for the Kingdom.

  65. Timothy Satryan says:

    I just purchased the PocketBible for PC you completed, and it’s nice to have my Laridian apps available now on the pc platform. However, I am far more excited about having the iPhone-ready apps, and from what your preview shows, I like the interface for the iPhone FAR better than the pc apps.

    ___________________
    posted from my iPhone

  66. Lawson Culver says:

    Craig,
    I was wondering if Laridian had given any consideration to the load this will put on the database and/or web server. There may not be a huge number of concurrent users during the week, but I’d be willing to bet that a significant portion of users will be actively logged in on Sunday mornings. Just curious… I write load testing scripts for a major company and I have found that companies often don’t look into these things…

  67. Yeah we’ve thought about that. We run multiple Web servers and a load balancer. The database engine is SQL Server and it runs on its own machine with multiple processors, lots of RAM, and fast hard drives.

    We actually get more traffic during a major upgrade or product release like the one we just went through with PocketBible for Windows than we will on a Sunday morning with iPocketBible. Part of the reason is that the data transfers are smaller (AJAX snippets vs. full Web pages and file downloads). We got through the PocketBible for Windows launch without breaking a sweat.

    The other issue is that the AT&T network is so bad that most people won’t be able to access it from church anyway. That will help keep the load down. :-)

  68. John Brock says:

    I’m ahead of you Craig. I already got the password for our high speed wireless site at our church. Limping along with a crummy web based Bible program but at least the internet connection is fast. Everything is ready for iPocket Bible. Just waiting……Oh that I would be as eager for His coming !!! Ouch !!

  69. Marc Thompson says:

    any news? I want to give you my two bucks.

  70. I’ve been hoping to quickly solve the particular problem I’m having so it wouldn’t delay anything, but I’m up against the toughest programming problem I’ve ever encountered in 25 years. I’m sure it’s going to end up being my fault, but it’s a bug that moves as I chase it. It’s exhibiting characteristics of the “observer effect” in which an attempt to measure a behavior changes the behavior. I’ve backed it into a corner several times only to have it disappear and reappear somewhere else. I’ve been working on this on and off for the last two months but I’m down to the point now where I need to solve it to ship this product and it remains elusive. I’m always open to prayer but am at the point where I’d accept goat sacrifices like they use to repair airplanes in Nepal.

  71. Marc Thompson says:

    I’ll pray….I’m fresh out of Goats.

  72. Doreen says:

    Dear Heavenly Father please please help Craig find that bug so he can squash it once and for all and we can have our Bibles on our iPhones.
    We ask this in Jesus name Amen!

    Boy I hope he heard that cuz I’m getting impatient waiting. And don’t tell me patience is a virtue! hehe

    Hope you find the bug soon and “Thanks” for making this for us iphone users I look forward to it.

  73. Lawson says:

    Craig,
    Don’t discount the possibility that you’re dealing with some obscure browser bug… Safari on the iPhone is far from a completed product. :-)

  74. I forgot to mention the problem I’m having is in converting files from our PocketBible format to the import format we need to load the books into our Web database. So it’s a bug on the desktop, not with Safari.

    I think I’m making progress on it now. Stay tuned!

  75. Marc Thompson says:

    ooooooh progress yeah. More progress, God give Craig more progress

  76. Marc Thompson says:

    how’s it going? Sorry to nag. I’m just really looking forward to this.

  77. Lawson Culver says:

    I was wondering that myself… I for one would be willing to pay $2/month starting now just for access to the work-in-progress, bugs and all.

  78. Those prayers helped. I found the bug I think (it didn’t look like it would cause problems but apparently it did) and we’ve been able to upload all the books. The current plan is to announce the release here on the blog as soon as we can possibly give people access, then send an email to everyone when we get a chance. We have some other emails going out in the next couple of weeks and I didn’t want to make iPhone users wait just because it didn’t fit our mail schedule.

    There will be an annual subscription that will not be refundable but that gives people the option to purchase by check or with a card where they don’t want recurring charges. Otherwise, the normal subscription is $1.99 per month. Billing is deferred for 30 days so if you don’t like it you can cancel before your first bill and owe nothing.

    There will be some features that we’ll be in the process of implementing over time. They won’t be in the initial release. Right now this list includes:

    * Strongs numbers in Bibles that include them
    * Reading plan progress tracking
    * Highlights
    * Notes
    * Bookmark categories (but bookmarks are implemented)
    * Dictionary lookup (but normal dictionary navigation by table-of-contents is implemented)
    * Go to commentary for a verse (but normal commentary navigation by table-of-contents is implemented)
    * Browser history (initial release will just have one level of “back”)
    * There may be some places where Spanish in the NVI isn’t fully implemented

    Also because of limitations of the iPhone, Hebrew and some Greek will appear as little boxes. We can’t do anything about that.

    The features that ARE implemented include:

    * Access to all your books and Bibles, subject to the limitations above
    * Categorized book picker (Bibles, Commentaries, Dictionaries, Devotionals, Other)
    * Ability to go to a verse by typing a reference in the Find box (“John 3:16″) or by doing the normal “3-tap” book, then chapter, then verse navigation.
    * Search for a word, all words in a list, any word in a list, exact phrase, and any of the above with all suffixes or all prefixes.
    * View list of search results and/or use next/previous buttons to step through search results
    * All Bible references are hyperlinked.
    * Set bookmarks.
    * Choose preferred Bible for handling hyperlinked Bible verses.

    And there are other features. We’re still adding features while we get ready to make it available. We’re going to start offering it as soon as all the back-end processes are in place to handle taking the order. There are just a couple small issues we’re working on in the program, otherwise it’s ready to go.

    So thanks for your prayers and your patience.

  79. Lawson,

    I’d love to give you access right now but the nature of this beast is that we’re working on the version that will eventually be live. So having you in there could cause problems. When we do go live we’ll be moving the application to another folder so we can continue to work without interfering with live customers. Just give us a couple days. Watch the blog for the announcement.

  80. Marc Thompson says:

    sounds good. How far off is note taking and highlighting? Those were some of the features I was most looking forward to. Don’t get me wrong I’ll be excited about anything. Is the hold up on that a “Bug” problem or a “not sure how to do that” problem? Thanks for working so hard on this. I think it will be very helpfull.

  81. I can’t give you a specific date for notes and highlights. That doesn’t mean they’re a long way off; it means I haven’t thought past getting this thing out the door.

    I’m trying to figure out how to characterize the “delay” getting all the features out. The best I can do is this: I originally thought this project was only going to take a couple of weeks. I underestimated the time involved in all the back-end database work (subscription support in the e-commerce system, permissions and library management coordination between the customer/transaction database and the iPocketBible site, and all the other infrastructure issues). I also didn’t count on that crippling bug which I’m sure I spent somewhere around 2-3 weeks working on.

    On top of underestimating the work involved, I also didn’t originally plan to have to put extra people on the desktop product to get it out. I was going to use three of us on iPhone that I ended up using for desktop stuff. That delayed the release of iPocketBible but really made a huge difference in getting PocketBible for Windows out the door. (Jeff Wheeler spent a month writing a fantastic help system for PocketBible, for example.)

    So now that we’re back on the iPhone task, I feel like we need to deliver on this thing pretty soon, as we’ve been talking about it so much all summer. So we decided to release it as soon as it was in good enough shape that it could be argued it was usable. That point was probably earlier this week, but we spent a couple days on two tasks that I think will really improve the user experience. One was reducing the amount of time it takes to select a new book or Bible to open, and the second was providing some kind of “back” function to go back to where you came from when following a hyperlink.

    So it’s not the case that we don’t know how to do notes and highlights, nor that there was some particular problem that kept us from getting those done. It rather is the case that we’re shipping what could be called version 0.9 instead of 1.0. I wouldn’t call it a “beta” version because I don’t think you’ll find a lot of bugs in it. I’d just say it’s a “lite” version of what will eventually be the final product.

    We can’t normally do this with a product but we can with this one because it’s so easy to issue updates. So say I get highlights implemented next week. All I have to do is copy the dev code to the public site and voila, you guys have a new feature. We can’t do that with our downloadable software.

    Anyway… I gotta go write some code. We’re going to try to release this yet this weekend. Keep your eye on the blog.

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