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PocketBible for Mac OS: Design Principles

Posted on: July 8th, 2013 by Craig Rairdin 5 Comments

PocketBible for Mac OSWhile it may not be evident from the outside, there are certain philosophies, both of Bible study and software design, that strongly influence each of our Bible study apps regardless of platform. While we’re not at a point where we can give a concrete demonstration of PocketBible for Mac OS, we can talk about how those philosophies will influence our work.

In no particular order:

You should spend most of your time in PocketBible wrestling with the Bible text, not with your Bible software. This means that frequently accessed functionality should be immediately available, and that you shouldn’t have to deal with overlapping windows that obscure the text you’re trying to read. You shouldn’t be thinking about how to arrange things on the screen or how to access basic functions like navigating to a verse or creating a note, but instead be thinking about what you’re reading and how it applies to your life.

While we should consider specific use cases and how they are served by our design, we shouldn’t design around the use cases. We think a lot about all the things you might want to do with your Bible software, like search for a word, compare Bible translations, and view a commentary on a passage. This list of ways that you use our software defines a set of “use cases” (or “user stories”).

Informally, a “use case” or “user story” is a combination of a specific goal (“User must be able to search the text for a given word or phrase”) and a description of the steps or interactions with the program necessary to meet that goal. Programmers use these use cases as part of validating that their solution meets the user’s requirements.

Some Bible software companies make the mistake of creating new user interface elements for every use case. In these programs, when you’re in “search mode” the program looks and behaves differently than it does while just browsing through the text. When you want to compare two translations of the Bible, the second one pops up in a window that may obscure a portion of what you’re reading, and which doesn’t have all the functionality you have in your “main” Bible. And the only way to view a commentary might be to split your Bible window to show a commentary beneath it, with no consideration given to how you might open a second commentary or that you might not want to lose space for Bible text when viewing a commentary. And while you might consider “commentaries” and “dictionaries” to be just “reference books” and expect them to work similarly, the program might display dictionaries in the form of pop-up windows when activated for a particular word, covering other text and behaving differently than commentaries, devotionals and other reference books.

We will try to create a flexible user interface where, for example, search results, bookmark lists, lists of notes, and other “lists of verses” share a common user interface component or pattern, and where opening a Bible to compare to the current one is no different than opening a dictionary, commentary, devotional, or any other book. There’s less to learn and there are fewer surprises.

PocketBible for Mac OS should not necessarily look like PocketBible for Windows, PocketBible for Android, or even PocketBible for iOS. While it should share a lot of design, algorithms, and even code with those platforms, it should look and feel like a Mac app, not a Windows app ported to the Mac or even an iOS app ported to the Mac. We like to take the best features of all our previous apps and combine them with fixes to the mistakes we made in previous apps and wrap them in a user interface that is consistent with the other apps on the target platform.

Mac users should not feel like they are being accommodated, but rather that Laridian considers Mac to be a primary platform for its products, and PocketBible for Mac a flagship product. We confess that we treat certain platforms as second-class citizens. For example, both our BlackBerry and webOS apps were “Bible only” apps, and neither shared the LBK file format used by our other apps. BlackBerry was primarily an enterprise (business) platform, and the future of webOS was always doubtful. This made it difficult to commit the time and money to those platforms that would’ve been necessary to really do them right. Mac OS is different. It is our intention to make it difficult to tell if we’re “Mac people” or “Windows people” because of our level of commitment to both platforms.

PocketBible for Mac OS will focus on the needs of the 99% of Christians who are neither “clergy” nor “Bible scholars”. Most of our customers occupy the pews on Sunday morning and work in secular jobs during the week. While many are Sunday School teachers or Bible study leaders and a few are pastors, most are simply everyday Christians with a love of the Bible. Some have some experience with Greek or Hebrew, but most don’t do their daily devotional reading from the Greek New Testament. PocketBible for Mac OS may include resources like the Greek New Testament and meaty, scholarly commentaries, but its focus will be on concise, accessible works that help the average Christian understand and apply the teachings of the Bible in their daily walk. It’s not that we have a disdain for the original languages, but rather that, as Bible software users and everyday Christians ourselves, we understand there are people out there who understand those languages significantly better than we do, and it’s better, faster, and easier for us to read what they’ve written in English about the Bible than to depend on our own spotty and questionable original language knowledge.

Of course, the 1% of you who dream in Greek will want a different Bible study app. PocketBible may not be for you. We understand that; you’re not our target user.

Given a choice, we will take functionality over complexity; usability over displays of our technical prowess, and simplicity over beauty. We’re not trying to solve every problem in the field of computerized Bible study, but instead we’re trying to provide a tool that can help you solve the most common problems you encounter in your everyday study of the BIble. We’re not trying to flex our programming muscles to win your admiration, but instead give you something you can be expected to use and understand with minimal learning time. We feel that beauty is often only skin-deep; that simplicity and elegance are beautiful in their own way. You may find another girl who looks prettier, but PocketBible is the girl you want to take home to meet your parents and be with forever.

We hope this helps you understand more about how we think about Bible software, how we try to focus on the way you study the Bible, and that you can see how that is implemented in PocketBible for Mac OS X.

PocketBible for Android 1.0.6

Posted on: July 2nd, 2013 by Michelle Stramel 47 Comments

PocketBible for Android version 1.0.6 has been released on Google Play. If you downloaded the app from Google Play, you will be automatically updated. If you are using a Kindle Fire (or other non-Google Play device), you can download the latest version by browsing to http://lpb.cc/android while on your device.

The major new feature in 1.0.6 is the ability to highlight Bible verses. It is easy to do – just tap on a verse and PocketBible will temporarily underline the verse. Choose the pencil icon from the menu to select a color and you’re done!

Along with the highlighting, PocketBible will now sync your highlights with the Laridian Cloud. So if you have highlighted verses in other versions of PocketBible, those will be transferred over to the app as well. In conjunction with this, you’ll find a new setting option on the menu for Sync Settings where you can specify how and how often your data is being synced.

While we were at it we threw in some other popular requests like the ability to view Bible verses one line at a time, set the screen in PocketBible to not time out and the ability to hide the status bar. You’ll find these new options in the Setting menus.

Which NIV Bible is Which?

Posted on: June 28th, 2013 by Michelle Stramel 9 Comments

The New International Version of the Bible (NIV) was originally published in 1973. It was updated in 1978, 1984 and then again in 2011. If you purchase the New International Version Bible from Laridian today, you will be purchasing the 2011 edition. If you purchased the NIV Bible previous to 2011, you have the 1984 edition. According to the translators of the NIV, the 2011 update reflects developments in biblical scholarship and changes in English usage yet 95% of the text from the 1984 edition has remained the same.

The PocketBible version of the NIV includes two options (or files) – one with cross-references and one without. If you purchase the 2011 version, the two files will be labeled as follows in your download account:

  • New International Version (NIV Cross Reference Edition)
  • New International Version (NIV)

Note that the cross-reference edition lists a larger file size than the second or non-cross-reference edition. If you also owned the 1984 edition of the NIV, you can continue to use it even if you purchase the 2011 edition. You will see the 1984 edition in your download list as:

  • New International Version (1984 NIV)
  • New International Version (1984 NIV)

Again, look at the file size to distinguish between the cross-reference and non cross-reference edition – the larger file contains cross-references.

If you are not interested in cross-references, install the edition without cross-references. If you like to use cross-references, install only the cross-reference edition. If you ever want to view the Bible text without the cross-reference indicators (also known as footnotes), you can turn those off temporarily in the settings of PocketBible.

If you install both the NIV 1984 and NIV 2011 editions (either cross-reference or not), when you go to open the Bibles – the 1984 Edition is the one that is titled The Holy Bible: New International Version. The 2011 edition is entitled simply as the New International Version. If you open both versions, they each use the NIV abbreviation so it is better to open only one at a time.

New! 3 Month Bible Reading Plan

Posted on: June 10th, 2013 by Michelle Stramel 3 Comments

Just in time for the summer! We have released a “through-the-Bible” reading plan that will help you stay in the Bible during these relaxed months. Our new 3 month (92 day) plan takes you through the entire Bible with a selection from the Old Testament and New Testament for each day. Perfect for summer or any 3 month period in the year.

This free reading plan is automatically available for download on your device if you are using PocketBible for iOS, Android, Windows Phone or Windows Store. If you are using PocketBible for Windows PC or Windows Mobile or MyBible for Palm OS, you can add this plan to your account here and download it to your device.

If you prefer less reading per day, we also offer a 3 Month Reading Plan that takes you through the entire New Testament. This plan is available as part of our Laridian Reading Plans Bundle.

New for PocketBible: John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

Posted on: June 8th, 2013 by Michelle Stramel No Comments

John Gill Exposition of the Entire BibleJohn Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible is now available for use with PocketBible. This 18th century commentary from the noted Baptist pastor and rabbinical scholar, John Gill, provides extremely thorough coverage of the whole Bible. You will find a comment for every verse in the entire Bible. Gill’s background in Hebrew and other Biblical languages as well as an understanding of the culture of the times make his Old Testament commentary especially valuable.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible is available for immediate download for $29.99.

Updated: PocketBible for Windows Store

Posted on: June 1st, 2013 by Michelle Stramel No Comments

Windows 8 users, an update to PocketBible is now available on the Windows Store.

Enhancements to this Version 2.1 include:

  • Automatically update the application’s tile with the current book and position
  • Save and re-use multiple layouts, enabling you to save the layout (panes and books) exactly as it was and come back to it
  • New 3-pane layout option for convenient arranging of your books
  • Go to a bible verse by typing it into the verse table of contents flyout
  • Make multiple selections in the device library
  • Open one or more books directly from the device or cloud library application bar
  • Book selection context menu now displays the book titles sorted

Download PocketBible for Windows Store for free!

NOTE: Some of the features mentioned above may require the purchase of the Advanced Feature Set.

PocketBible 2.0 now available on the Windows Phone Store

Posted on: May 10th, 2013 by Michelle Stramel No Comments

We’re happy to announce that version 2 of PocketBible for Windows Phone is now available for free download at the Windows Phone Store.

For those using the standard edition of Windows Phone, you’ll find many usability enhancements including better images in the cloud library, being able to pause and resume downloading via buttons in the cloud library, improvements in back button behavior (set this to exit program if you’d like) and more.

For those using the Advanced Feature set with PocketBible for Windows Phone, a major new feature is the ability to synchronize your data including bookmarks, notes, highlights and reading progress with the Laridian server and other devices running PocketBible.

If you have a Windows Phone 8 device and are using Advanced Features you can take advantage of the great new voice capabilities of PocketBible. Have the program read Bibles and books outloud to you. Or use voice commands to launch PocketBible and open it at a specific verse.

Version 2 of PocketBible for Windows Phone is a free download from the Windows Phone Store. Advanced Features can be purchased from within the app for only $6.99.

Now available! PocketBible for Windows Store

Posted on: May 9th, 2013 by Michelle Stramel 23 Comments

Windows 8 users, this one’s for you! We are pleased to announce the availability of PocketBible on the Windows Store. Download it now for free!

PocketBible for Windows Store runs on devices using Windows 8 (includes tablets, laptops, desktops). We think you’ll find this an amazing new version of PocketBible with a true Windows 8 look and feel! PocketBible for Windows Store features include:

  • 40+ Free Bibles and books with registration. Download past purchases of Bibles and books into the app at no charge. The 20 title download limit in the app can be exceeded with purchase of Advanced Feature Set ($6.99).
  • Move easily through Bibles and books by simply scrolling. Quickly move around the bible using an intuitive table of contents display
  • Quickly find any word or phrase
  • Split screen display
  • Mark your place with bookmarks
  • Share verses by Text, Email or Facebook
  • Use the daily reading feature to visually track your progress through a devotional book
  • Pin a book to your start screen!

We hope you’ll support continued development of PocketBible on this platform by purchasing the Advanced Feature Set for $6.99. Advanced Features include:

  • Highlighting of Bible text
  • Add notes to any verse of the Bible
  • Synchronize bookmarks, highlights and bookmarks with our server and your other devices that use PocketBible (and are able to synchronize)
  • Split screen into 2 to 5 windows
  • Download as many Bibles and books as you own (no limit but based on what you own)
  • Quickly access recent verses

If you are using Windows 8, we hope you’ll give PocketBible for Windows Store a try and let us know what you think!

New for PocketBible: Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines

Posted on: May 9th, 2013 by Michelle Stramel No Comments

Wiersbe's Expository OutlinesNew for use with PocketBible and MyBible, Wiersbe Expository Outlines are two volumes that are designed to guide you through a systematic study of the entire Bible.

Based on Bible studies that were originally designed for use with Dr. Warren Wiersbe’s own church, the studies were put in book form after many years of being tested “in the field.” They are ideal for personal study as well as for use with Sunday School classes and Bible study groups that want to examine God’s Word in a systematic manner.

The volumes can be purchased separately for the Old Testament or New Testament or as a bundle of both.

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe is an internationally known Bible teacher and the former pastor of three churches, including the Moody Church in Chicago. For ten years he served as general director and Bible teacher for the Back to the Bible radio broadcast.

Also available for use in PocketBible are Wiersbe’s Bible Commentaries. This set of commentaries is based on Dr. Wiersbe’s best-selling “BE” series.

Call for Testers: PocketBible for Windows Store

Posted on: April 22nd, 2013 by Michelle Stramel 2 Comments

We’ve had a number of questions as to whether we are going to develop PocketBible for Windows Store. For those of you who are not aware, Windows Store is the built-in store in Windows 8 for full-screen touch enabled applications. These applications also work great with a mouse and a keyboard, so they are available to anyone who uses Windows 8.

We are very pleased to be able to tell you that we are very close to releasing PocketBible for Windows Store!

At the moment we are looking for people to help us test it, to ensure that it is ready for release. If you would like to do so please join our group here.

In the meantime we’ll try and answer some questions that you might have:

When will the product be available in the Windows Store?
We are still working through the process of releasing the application and make sure that it is finished. Your testing will help us to decide when it is ready.

Does it have the same features as the iPad version?
Mostly. We have tried to implement the features that people will use most often. There are a few minor features that are not expected to be available in this first release, but we will be working really hard to try and add them in as soon as possible. Your feedback will be helpful in deciding the priority order.

Does PocketBible for Windows Store include synchronization?
Yes. This is one of the things that we will appreciate feedback on.

Are there any major features that are not available?
Just one really, selection of text is not yet implemented.

What will it cost?
As with our other platforms, we anticipate PocketBible for Windows Store will be free. As with PocketBible for Windows Phone there will be an advanced feature set that will be available for a small fee, so some of the features you see may require payment.

When will the beta be released?
It’s available now!

Which devices will it work on?
PocketBible for Windows Store can run on any device running Windows 8 or Windows RT, including Surface!

How will you take feedback?
We have set up a private mailing group that will allow you to give us feedback and discuss it with other testers. The developers will be reading this and will be able to interact with you to resolve any problems and take your feedback.

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