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iPocketBible Update Features Simpler Scrolling, Pop-Up Menu

Posted on: September 29th, 2007 by Craig Rairdin 8 Comments

Thanks to some clever CSS and Javascript from Jim Coates, iPocketBible is now sporting a new user interface. While we’re still very fond of the fixed tool bar at the bottom of the screen and using two fingers to scroll, the new mode offers more screen real estate for text (about 35% more text area) and the more familiar “flick” gesture to scroll the text.

Current subscribers need only refresh the page to pick up the new code. An easy way to do this is the “refresh” button to the right of the address field at the top of the screen, or go to the About page and select “What’s New…”. You’ll notice a new Welcome message which you’ll see just once when you load the application. This tells new users how to scroll (the default mode is still two-fingers) and how to get help.

Switching to the new user interface can either be done on the Options page or by just tapping in the left or right margin. There is an invisible button area about 5 pixels wide along the left and right edge of the page. When you select this button you’ll be asked if you want to change scroll modes. When you select OK, the tool bar vanishes from the bottom of the screen and you’re scrolling with one finger instead of two. To view the tool bar, tap in the margin again.

When in the new scroll mode, double-tapping the margin will take you to the previous or next page, depending on if you tap in the left (previous) or right (next) margin.

You’ll note we still don’t support the pinching gesture for zooming. This is because we want to avoid requiring horizontal scrolling. You need this for generic Web pages that don’t know about the iPhone, but since we lay out our text to match the iPhone screen size, zooming really isn’t necessary.

The problem with not supporting zooming is that there’s no way to enlarge the text. This new version of iPocketBible gives you the option to increase the text font size in your Bibles and books. Just go to the Options page and change it.

The final enhancement in this version is something you may not notice. Page loading time has been decreased for pages that do not contain any highlights. In some cases this is significant — on my iPhone, loading Psalm 119 (the longest chapter of the Bible) takes about one-fourth of the time that it did before the change.

iPocketBible: The Bible on Nokia Phones?

We’ve had a report from an iPocketBible subscriber that he’s been able to successfully use iPocketBible on his Nokia S60 phone. There are a couple things that might be awkward because right now we don’t make any attempt to do anything special depending on the device you’re running on, but this is the idea of how it’s going to work with Web-enabled devices in the future. As long as they support CSS3 and Javascript we should be able to get an adequate implementation of iPocketBible on the phone.

What’s Next?

This version of iPocketBible actually has most of the code required to support attaching your own notes to any verse. It wasn’t quite done so we disabled it in order to get this version out the door. So that’s the next thing you’ll see.

After that, we’ll add features to better support devotional books. This will include setting the start date for a book and recording what days’ readings you’ve read.

These two features are the final two pieces of the puzzle that need to fall into place before we can support synchronizing with PocketBible for Windows. Once they are in place then we’ll be working on the “sync provider” that will communicate with the server so that your notes, highlights, bookmarks and devotional reading progress will be synchronized between the two platforms. So you can take notes at home, sync with the server, then view your notes in church on your iPhone. If you highlight a couple passages during the sermon, then when you get home you sync again and those highlights appear on your desktop PC. So if you don’t already have PocketBible for Windows you should consider making that purchase.

8 Responses

  1. Update…10:45PM Saturday…

    Those of you who were quick and paying attention in the first few hours after the release of this version went through some frustration trying to access your Bibles. I believe I have that problem fixed. Here’s what happened…

    We have a “sandbox” site that we use to test new versions of iPocketBible. When we’re ready to release an update, we copy files from the sandbox to the public site. Actually, what we do is copy files from a local machine up to the public site, but they should be identical to the sandbox files.

    One of the files Jim was working on was on the sandbox server but not on my hard drive. That’s no problem, since we use an Internet-based version control system to maintain the latest versions of all the files. Before uploading files to the public server, I refreshed my hard drive from the source control system to make sure I had the latest versions. For some reason, the version control software told me I had the latest files, but this one file didn’t make it onto my hard drive.

    When you guys tried to log in, the program would look for that file and fail. Because of the way our app is implemented with “Web 2.0″ and AJAX technology the error messages that normally get displayed in your browser saying “file not found” do not get displayed. So you just saw the iPhone “pinwheel” spinning and spinning.

    When you complained to me I would log into your account on the sandbox site from my PC and it would look fine. I eventually found a line of code that looked suspicious and changed it, and what do you know, everything worked — again, on the sandbox site.

    After I successfully got you past the missing file, it is never required again, so once I logged into your account then you were able to log in with no problem.

    To cut to the chase: I eventually figured out that something was wrong and realized I had been accessing your accounts from the sandbox site while you are obviously on the public site. Once I figured that out and thought to compare the files I instantly found the missing file and copied it to the public site.

    Anyway, dumb mistake on my part. I thought I was doing everything right but just missed a detail. Hopefully we’ll get better at this as time goes on.

  2. Lawson says:

    Hey… I’m just glad it’s working now. Now that I’ve looked at the new app with the single-finger scrolling, this is exactly what I was hoping iPocketBible would be when it was announced. :-)

  3. John Brock says:

    Good work Craig. When I got up this morning and use the program, it was wonderful. While I enjoyed using it last week, it now has some polish that makes using it feel like a real iPhone application. I have switched back and forth between srolling modes and there is no question that I prefer the one finger scroll method. The pop up navation bar is quick and easy–all buttons display simultaniously. It is really nifty. Font size adjustment is very nice. I truly thank you for this fine product. I can finially say that this product is easier and more pleasant to use than the PDA version. Don’t yet have multiple versions linked and displayed but now that I purchased pocketBible for Windows (running on a MacBook Pro w/Fusion BTW), I do my serious study on that. This last couple of months work by your team was a tour-de-force of productivity. These products have been real advances in my study capibility. Blesss you all.

  4. Robert Mullen says:

    Bravo! I like the single finger (thumb) scrolling and doubly like having the option for older style. I am very excited to see all the capabilities including the sync put together. This is an exciting advancement in Bible software.

  5. Ralph Bingham says:

    Has anyone tried accessing iPocketBible via Opera mini 3 or beta 4 on a phone that supports J2ME apps? Anyone (current subscribers?) willing to try?

    Thanks.

  6. Why don’t you try it and let us know how it goes? You can sign up for the monthly subscription and play with it for a couple weeks then cancel if it doesn’t work or you don’t want to keep it.

    You need a browser that supports CSS3 and javascript. If it comes close to working let us know. Maybe we can make some tweaks. You can send feedback through the Help Desk at the Web site.

  7. Dave Z says:

    Great work guys. The single-finger scrolling is nice, but I think I like the two-finger scrolling method better. It’s a bit of a learning-curve, and I still don’t do it right all the time, but having the toolbars on screen all the time is worth it.

    Hey Craig, on a completely different topic, I’m curious about transferring licences. This is just hypothetical at the moment, but under my one account I have multiple licences for the same Bibles (this is as result of my wife and I using Pocket PC and Palm handhelds). When we used those platforms, having a single login was just easier. If she wanted to start using iPocketBible, we’d need to register a second login for her to keep things in order. Do you guys transfer Bible licences from one account to another if we wanted to do this or would the account she created have to re-purchase the Bible translations?

    Thanks and keep up the great work you’re doing!

  8. Wesley Walls says:

    Aaaahhhh….one finger scrolling…just as it was meant to be on the iPhone! Thanks so much guys for the great work!! This really opens it up for me and feels much more natural. Two fingers requires two hands, a real no-no ergonomically. One request/suggestion: what about one-tap in the margin to go to the next (or previous) chapter and a double-tap for the menu? Does the current double-tap to go to the next passage always bring the pop-up menu briefly!?

    Thanks again for such fine work!

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