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iPocketBible Updated – Look-up and Highlights

Posted on: September 19th, 2007 by Craig Rairdin 26 Comments

Let me start this posting with the instruction that I try to mention everytime I talk about iPocketBible:

Use Two Fingers to Scroll

Having dispensed with that, I’ve got information about a couple recent updates to iPocketBible and some iPocketBible-related news.

Recent Updates

On Monday we uploaded changes to support the Lookup button. Selecting the Lookup button allows you to look up a word either in the current dictionary (if you have a dictionary open) or your preferred dictionary (from the Options page).

Related to this feature is support of certain links in some of our dictionaries (especially the Strong’s dictionaries) to other words in the dictionary. Those links weren’t working. They are now.

Today we added the highlight feature. Just select a verse number to go to the verse context menu and select a highlight color. iPocketBible supports the same palette of highlight colors as PocketBible on the desktop and Pocket PC.

We’ve also added the latest release date to the About screen, and a link to “What’s New” so you can see the history of revisions. To make sure you’re running with the latest version of the program, either reload www.ipocketbible/go or select the button on revision history page that loads the current version.

Staying Informed About Updates

To make sure you’re up-to-date on the latest updates to the program we’ve created an email list at lists.laridian.com for iPhone users. We’ll use this list to announce program updates. Since these can be frequent and contain only minor changes to the site, we won’t necessarily send an email out to our entire customer base. But we will send these announcements to members of the iPhone email list. This is the best way to make sure you know when new features have been added. Updates will be relatively frequent over the next couple of weeks but will likely slow down as we get our full feature set implemented.

What’s Next?

I’ll probably go after the commentary feature next. This will allow you to quickly jump to the commentary on a passage without having to open a commentary and navigate the table of contents to find the correct section.

Enabling Strong’s number links in the KJV and NASB needs to be tackled soon. This is a trivial exercise for the most part, but I’m concerned about the hit we’ll take on page loading speed because of the huge number of links on each page. I’m trying to think about ways to minimize that.

I’m anxious to get to the notes feature. That one might take some time depending on how fancy we get with note editing.

We’re also looking at some user interface changes that we think you’re really going to like. I’ll probably get in trouble if I say any more than that because I don’t want to make more promises than we can deliver. I’m just looking forward to not having to start every iPocketBible blog post with an admonition about using two fingers to scroll. Yeah, I probably shouldn’t reveal too much.

26 Responses

  1. Chris Crifasi says:

    When do you think we’ll see the synchronization for the PocketBible for Windows come into being. I use it on my Vista laptop and on my Treo 755p and would really appreciate being able to sync the two platforms.

    Thanks

  2. I can’t give you a specific date but the order in which the sync providers will come out is roughly this:

    1. PocketBible for Windows Mobile. This will include an update to the Pocket PC program to allow it to do verse highlights like the desktop program.
    2. iPocketBible for iPhone.
    3. MyBible for Palm OS. This will include a substantial update to MyBible to change the way it stores all of its user-created data to make it easier to synchronize. That’s why it will take the longest to get done.
    4. Right now there’s no plan to do a sync provider for the BlackBerry product.

    We haven’t relased (1) yet. When you see (2), then you can ask about (3). :-)

  3. Robert Mullen says:

    Wow, this app is really coming together nicely. The commentary addition is big for me. Can I make a request-suggestion? Can the commentary selection page link to all your commentaries and not just your default commentary? Maybe a direct link for the default and an expanding link to another page listing all your commentary for that verse. That would make the page a little crowded but I think the ability to quickly link to all commentary in context is important. For me if it came down to a choice of the direct link for the default OR having to navigate a second page every time I would choose the latter.

    Thanks for the great tools…

  4. That’s actually on my list. I am in the position of having to decide whether to spend time at this point making each feature perfect or get through the initial feature list then go back and refine things. I’m opting for trying to get through the feature list.

    For example, users with the KJVEC and NASEC can’t see Strong’s numbers in the text at all. I’d rather get them to where they can make use of the resources they have than add a new feature or enhance an existing one at this point.

    My plan is to add a link that takes you to a list of your commentaries that have commentary on the passage. It will take a few seconds to build the list because each commentary has to be searched, but it shouldn’t be too bad.

    I’d also like to add a link on the context menu that would bring up a list of that verse in every Bible you own. Selecting one of the items on that list would display the verse in context.

  5. Robert Mullen says:

    “I’d also like to add a link on the context menu that would bring up a list of that verse in every Bible you own. Selecting one of the items on that list would display the verse in context.”

    That would be a GREAT feature. I also use the NASEC so either way you prioritize your time I will be a happy camper. I can’t say it enough, this is truly a great tool and I enjoy using it for my daily studies. You guys are doing a tremendous job of taking the available technologies and making practical (and exciting) solutions from them. Anything that increases our ability to work with His word is extending the Kingdom.

    Thank you.

  6. Marc Thompson says:

    I Totally agree. This is such a great app. Thank you for working so hard on it. I am telling lots of people about it. I love your idea of including all bibles and all commentaries in the context menu. I’d love to see that happen with dictionaries to. I also wanted to ask/ suggest if eventually there will be a way to limit search parameters in the”find” feature to only look in the New testament, Old testament, or within a specific book. i.e. looking up the word “love” only in the book of Ephesians.

    Someone else asked about the “memorize it” feature. That would be cool to add to.

    you know since you don’t have anything else to do…..

    I love this Bible!!!

  7. Marc, you touched on how I want dictionaries to work. When you do a look-up operation I think it should give you the option to view the results from your preferred dictionary or get a list of dictionaries with results. So we’re thinking along the same lines.

    I’ll have to give more thought to limiting searches. I had forgotten about that.

    Thanks for the suggestions.

  8. Dale says:

    I love this software and I have it on my Windows Mobile device. I like the new iPod Touch that they are coming out with, too. My concern, though, is that I will not always be near a Wi-Fi hotspot to have internet capabilities. I’m only near wi-fi at my own house. Without internet, I wouldn’t be able to utilize the iPocketBible all the time, right? Unless there is a way to store the bibles directly on the device, that is the only thing that’s holding me back from purchasing the Touch and the subscription.

  9. Dave Z says:

    Just signed up for this service. Very nice. I can tell a lot of thought went into designing the interface. Great work Craig and team!

  10. Dave Z says:

    Oh yeah, just a thought: I have purchased a couple licenses of the same translation (in my case, NIV). I noticed that in the Bible book listing, NIV shows up twice. Not a big deal, but perhaps something could be done to remove duplications?

  11. Dale, right now there’s no way to install native applications that doesn’t involve opening the case and doing some creative soldering. And then you better be pretty good with Linux once that is done. So when you’re not in reach of WiFi you’re dead with the Touch.

    Dave, we don’t show you two copies of books you have two licenses for. I haven’t looked at your account but if you take a closer look you will find those two NIV’s are different. One has cross-references and one does not.

    You’ll find the duplicate names in a couple situations. The other is the New Living Translation. The NLT and NLTse are both called “The New Living Translation” in the book list.

  12. Dave Z says:

    Makes sense. Thanks!

  13. Wesley Walls says:

    I am very excited having “subscribed” to the iPocketBible on my iPhone. I commend you guys for doing such an admirable job.

    Okay – let me provide my humble opinion on the two-fingered scroll. Honestly, this is a real letdown for me. The ability to scroll and “spin” a lengthy page of text on the iPhone (with one finger) is one of its most endearing interface qualities – one that is SO natural. While I follow the logic regarding the toolbar and all, using two-fingers is cumbersome and requires two hands! Furthermore, I can’t quickly “spin” down further in the text.

    Again, I understand the concept behind always having the toolbar at the bottom. However, if you think about it, you SCROLL ten times more often than you use the toolbar – at least for me. Is there any way to make this one of the user definable “options”? Furthermore, could you change behavior between portrait and landscape orientation?

    Certainly, I do not comprehend all of the complexities or limitations of implementation on Safari, so I hope you consider my input merely as a typical end-user who might bring some alternate perspective that proves beneficial during continued development of the application.

    Thanks so much!

  14. Yeah, tell me about it. Or better yet, tell Apple about it. That two-finger scroll is dumb, dumb, dumb. We joke about another one-fingered gesture that we probably should support, given how people feel about two-fingered scrolling. We think it’s a huge dark spot on an otherwise wonderful device.

    I disagree with some of your analysis of having the toolbar at the bottom (so you have to scroll to get there), but it doesn’t matter. Let me say clearly what I tried to say obliquely at the end of the article above: We’re going to have one-fingered scrolling and it’s going to be cool. I find if I don’t just come out and say something, some people don’t get it. So there, I said it. :-)

  15. Wesley Walls says:

    Craig – thanks for clarifying future one-finger scroll! I agree with your comment about the toolbar – in fact, I would obviously prefer both the toolbar and one-finger scrolling – it was just my comment that if it had to be one or the other, my personal preference would be for one-finger scrolling. Thanks so much for supporting this great device!

  16. John Brock says:

    I also appreciate all the good work and momentium. I believe you mentioned that adjusting text size is somewhere on the list. My wife has some visual imparement and she would love to use my iPocketBible for her study for a class she teaches. I know the present font is too fine. While this is a personal request, I suspect there are many with her minor degree of imparement–This improvement will be a blessing when it comes. I think the latest iteration was on the 21st. I expect an update will be out soon. It is like Christmas each time improvements come out. Thank you and your team for this excellent product.

  17. Lawson Culver says:

    I log into iPocketBible at least once a day, and it’s cool to constantly see new features popping up when I least expect it. This is definitely better than waiting on a feature-complete product. :-)

    I have one pet peeve though, but I don’t really see any way around it do to the way the product is set up. Let’s say I open Psalm 119, and want to look at the Greek for one of the very last words in the chapter. There is no way to get back to the end of the chapter short of going to verse one and scrolling away. It’s a minor inconvenience, and I’m sure it will be even more minor once one-finger scrolling is implemented. Keep up the good work, guys!

  18. John – We’ve actually posted a couple of small changes that I didn’t say anything about since 9/21. They were bug fixes that nobody had reported — just stuff we ran into. We’ve been busy for the last few days with an update to all of our readers to support 24 new books being released today or tomorrow (four products containing a total of 24 books). All those books had to be processed for upload into the iPocketBible database.

    Lawson – If you know what verse you want to look at then go directly to it. Select the Go To button, then Psalms, then 119, then 176. A quicker alternative might be to use the Find button in the upper right corner and type “ps 119.176″. That’s faster than scrolling.

    If you have some other suggestions let me know.

  19. Lawson Culver says:

    Craig: The most common scenario that I’ve used the Strong’s numbers in the past (including with the PocketPC version) has been in just browsing through a passage during a sermon rather than going directly to the verse that I might look up something in.

    The easiest way would be to have the back arrow at the top take the user back to the anchor tag for the verse the word is in, but that would require you to edit the link with some kind of onClick event, which may or may not be as easy as it sounds.

  20. OK I think I see what you’re saying. If you’re at the end of Ps 119 and you tap a Strong’s link, then when you come back you’re at the top of the chapter. We’ve talked about how to handle this. It’s difficult on the iPhone because you don’t have a full set of events to work with. Bottom line is being able to record all “historical events” — that is, events worthy of recording on the history stack. We need to store the places you directly go to and the places you leave from. We always know where we’re going; we just can’t be sure where we are when we leave.

  21. Michael Lallemont says:

    Just curious as to when the next update will occur and what we might expect? Thank you!!

  22. Hopefully tonight. I have an issue I want to look at related to page-loading speed before it goes out and there are some other tiny details we’re resolving.

    The main thing you can expect is one-finger scrolling and a new floating toolbar.

    Buried in the code is most of the support for notes. I’m going to disable it in this release, though, until we get a chance to clean it up a little bit.

    I think the next big task will be devotional tracking — changing start dates, reading progress, and other tasks related to devotionals.

    By the time we get that done we should be ready to roll in synchronization with the desktop version of PocketBible. This will have the dual benefit of giving you an off-site backup of your user-created data (notes, bookmarks, highlights, and devotional reading progress).

  23. Update: We’re wrapping up a new feature tonight so the update will happen tomorrow. We’ll have the update before Sunday. The last new feature for this version is a way for us to force the app to load a “welcome” page that will tell people how to scroll (“use two fingers”) and will also tell them how to switch to one-finger scrolling. More importantly, since there are no fixed-position toolbars in one-finger mode, it tells them how to activate the pop-up toolbar.

    We’ve been playing with one-finger scrolling and I think it’s pretty nice. There’s some reasons the two-finger mode is better in some cases, but I think you’ll like on-finger mode. The picture shows a shot taken in the Safari browser on the desktop but gives you an idea what the pop-up toolbar looks like. Click on the picture to see a larger image.

    Also note the bigger font. This is now user-selectable.

    FYI: A new version of the iPhone operating system software was released today and will get downloaded to your phone when you sync. It contains some changes that caused many iPhone apps to break. If you use iPocketBible this isn’t a problem. Jim was on it and fixed it very quickly. The problem for many of the other Bible programs for iPhone is that they’re using an open-source product called iUI to create their apps, and don’t really understand how it works. So when their apps blow up, they don’t know how to fix them. The author of iUI hasn’t been heard from for a while (welcome to the world of free software), so they could be waiting.


  24. Lawson says:

    I opened a defect at the iUI project tracking page, and a person posted a fix the same day (this was all the day that 1.1.1 came out for the iPhone. Now, to get the author to implement the fix on his page… :-)

  25. Joe (iUI author) just announced he’s dropping his support for iUI so developers who built on that platform are either on their own or at the mercy of the cadre of open-source developers that take on maintenance of that platform. I think there were a few iUI users who knew a little HTML and that’s about it. They could be wishing they knew a little javascript and CSS.

  26. Jim Coates says:

    I should clarify Craig’s comment a little… Joe didn’t say the actual phrase “dropping support”, but he did tell the iUI crowd that he just doesn’t see time in the near future to do much work with it and gave his blessing in having the open-source community take over the project.

    That’s pretty interesting that you saw a fix posted for the breakage of iUI apps the day that 1.1.1 came out. It just so happens that I posted a fix to the iPhoneWebDev group that same day (*grin*).

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