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Posts Tagged ‘iOS’

Serendipitous Programming

Posted on: July 27th, 2013 by Craig Rairdin 6 Comments

Today I’ve been working on a new feature for PocketBible for iOS and one thing led to another, and, well, I ended up implementing a feature I didn’t know I was working on, and didn’t realize how much of it was already sitting there, waiting to be exposed to the user.

So the new feature I thought I was working on is the ability to “rename” your highlight colors. That is, you’ll be able to assign a topic to each color. Then when you highlight a verse, instead of seeing a list containing “Khaki”, “Cornflower Blue” and “Hot Pink”, you’ll see “Salvation”, “God’s Love” and “Prophecy”. We’ve been wanting to implement this for a long time. While we were upgrading our cloud synchronization protocol over the last few months, I added the ability to sync highlight color names with the server and we took advantage of that in PocketBible for Windows Phone and Windows Store. The plan has always been to roll that into other platforms as we have the opportunity.

While looking through the code that shows you your list of highlight colors (which I’ll have to modify to show you your user-defined names for those colors) I stumbled into a bit of code that Jeff wrote years ago but then “commented out”. (If we have code that we’d like to retain for reference purposes but don’t want to actually have the computer execute, we turn the code into a “comment” so it will be ignored by the compiler but still be there if we want to see it.)

Those of you who have been with us for a while know that Jeff was my programming partner for 27 years before his death from cancer in May 2012. It’s been a bittersweet year as I’ve had to deal with his passing while surrounded and immersed every day in code that he wrote. I keep running into little things that remind me of him, make me want to give him a call to talk about a problem, or give me a chuckle. So it’s always interesting when I run into a piece of code like this.

What this particular piece of code did was add three additional highlighting styles to the list of colors you can highlight with. These are “underline”, “strikeout”, and “underline+strikeout”. Those look like this, this, and this, respectively.

Now, why would you ever want to strike out a verse? That’s a good question and takes me back fifteen years to the days of the Palm operating system when cameras were cameras, phones were phones, and “portable digital assistants” were all the rage. In those days, color displays were luxuries that cost money, size, weight, and battery life. So most of those devices had monochromatic screens.

On color screens, we could highlight a verse with a background color. But what could we do on these black and white screens? Since our text was coded in HTML, and since HTML offered simple styles like bold, italics, underline, and strikeout, we decided to use those. We ended up not using bold and italics because they could cause the text to re-wrap when they were applied, and in those days of wimpy processors, it just took too long and was disturbing to see. That left us with underline and strikeout, so that’s what we used.

As time has gone on, we’ve gotten to where we don’t even include these underline and strikeout highlighting styles in our programs. They’re not in PocketBible for iOS, and we weren’t planning on implementing them in PocketBible for Android. Unfortunately, some of you who were around back then and have sync’ed your highlights from your Palm PDA to PocketBible for Windows to our server and to PocketBible for iPhone expect to see those underlines. So we have to at least be able to display them if they exist, but we don’t let you create them (because we don’t want to proliferate a bad idea).

What I discovered today was Jeff’s original code for being able to create underline, strikeout, and underline+strikeout highlights in PocketBible for iOS. His comment said he had taken them out because the display engine (my code) didn’t support them. Sometime between then and now I implemented those highlight styles but we just never went back into Jeff’s code and turned those choices on.

On a whim, I enabled those lines of code and what do you know — they worked! That put me in the awkward position of trying to decide whether or not to leave them in. I never liked the idea of striking verses from the Bible, and even once you get over that, it makes the text hard to read.

About then it was time for dinner and I set the laptop aside to meet my wife and get something to eat. On the way there it occurred to me that we now have some better styling options that we had back in 1998. New versions of HTML with CSS support dotted and dashed underlines.

When I got home I spent about 30 minutes and implemented the styles you see here. These new styles replace the old styles rather than adding to them. So where you had strikeouts, you’ll have dotted underlines. And where you had strikeout+underline, you’ll have dashed underlines. I think this is a nice way of making your legacy data from your Palm days more usable and it gives you three more highlighting styles to use in PocketBible for iOS. (If you’re having trouble making out the dots and dashes, click on the screen shot to see the original size image.)

One of the cool things about this is that the underlying data storage and cloud synchronization already supports it. We’re not changing the data we save, but rather the interpretation of the data. So nothing changes in any of the other platforms nor on the server.

What I think is special about this — even though it’s not a life-changing feature — is that Jeff left it behind and it only took a little extra work to make it useful. And I like that all the infrastructure both for storing the new highlight styles and displaying them was already there.

Tomorrow I’ll get back to work on naming your highlight colors. But this was a nice little one or two hour detour to give us an unexpected new feature in PocketBible.

What is your ideal size for a mobile device?

Posted on: January 24th, 2013 by Michelle Stramel 33 Comments

The other day I got in an unexpected discussion with my 14-year old nephew about iPad minis. Like most 14-year old boys, he is an expert on all things electronic. He informed me that when he heads to high school next year, they will each be given an iPad by the school. He then mentioned he was glad it was not an iPad mini because he finds them to be worthless devices with no purpose for existence. He feels the mini is the wrong size for anything meaningful. Too small to replace a laptop. Too big to carry around. And definitely the wrong size to play games on.

I own an iPad and iPhone. I haven’t even held the mini let alone considered purchasing one. However, I have been drooling over the Galaxy Note to replace my iPhone for many months (so long in fact that the Note I wanted has become the Note II). Bottom line, I want a bigger phone. From Twitter to PocketBible, I like the bigger screen size of my iPad yet I don’t want to lug it around everywhere. So the solution in my mind has been to get a bigger phone like the Note.

Today I came across this article on ZDNET by Matt Baxter-Reynolds, “Has Apple redefined the tablet as an 8-inch device?” where he explains how he fell in love with the iPad mini and ditched his iPad. He makes a case for this middle size device becoming the new norm with the popularity of devices like the iPad mini, Google’s Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire. He’s got me thinking about getting a mini to replace everything!

What do you think? Could you live with one device for everything? What is your ideal mobile device size?

PocketBible 2.0.6 Available on the App Store

Posted on: October 31st, 2012 by Craig Rairdin 14 Comments

We’ve just been notified that our latest update to PocketBible (version 2.0.6) has been approved by Apple. It should become available in the App Store over the next 24 hours.

We apologize for the delay getting our iOS6-compatibility fixes into PocketBible. We ran into a couple of issues getting our update past the Apple approval process. In the end, being forced to address those issues caused us to find a couple tricky bugs that wouldn’t have turned up otherwise. But the whole process ended up taking longer than we wanted.

The complete list of new features and bug fixes is below, but a couple are worth highlighting. First, this version adds support for the Greek New Testament. You should find the SBL Greek New Testament in your list of downloadable books in “Add/Remove Books”. There are instructions in the built-in Help for enabling the Greek keyboard so that you can do searches in Greek.

Several bugs introduced in iOS 6 have been circumvented. In particular, you may have noticed PocketBible would only read the first verse on the screen to you when you asked it to start reading. This has been fixed. And it’s not really a bug, but PocketBible will now take advantage of the full height of the screen on the iPhone 5. (This wouldn’t have been a problem except that Apple “lies” to our app when we request the size of the iPhone 5 screen, apparently to maintain compatibility with apps that aren’t as clever as PocketBible by making them think they’re running on an older device.)

I believe we’ve finally fixed the problem of books and voices disappearing when memory runs low. Apple changed the way they do this a couple of times over the last year or so and kept defeating our efforts to preserve our files. We think we have it figured out now.

Finally, PocketBible now requires at least iOS 5. The latest version of the development tools only produces ARMv7 binaries and there are no ARMv7 devices that don’t support iOS 5. We’d like to support older versions of the operating system, but we’re limited by what the development tools support.


What’s new in this version?

  • Support for the SBL Greek New Testament including display, searching and copy/paste.
  • Added “Find Selection” to the Selection menu. Rearranged the Selection and Context menus to put more frequently used items closer to the top.
  • iOS 6 compatiblity including:
    • Fixed a bug where PocketBible would stop after one verse when speaking the text
    • Addressed rotation issues
    • Added 4″ Retina launch image and support for the full height of the new iPhone 5 screen
  • Bug fixes including
    • Fixed a bug in certain books with images where they did not appear when “shrink to fit” was selected
    • Changed the way text is selected to address sluggishness on devices with Retina displays
    • Fixed a problem that manifested in ZIBBCNT and HBH where images in tables were not shown if “shrink images to fit” was selected.
    • Made sure the built-in KJV, Help, and Welcome documents plus downloaded voices all get marked as “do not back up to iCloud”.
    • Related to the above, downloaded books and voices were moved to a folder that should not be purged under low memory conditions.
  • Set the minimum iOS version supported to 5.0.

PocketBible for iOS users: What can Advanced Features do for you?

Posted on: September 11th, 2012 by Michelle Stramel 8 Comments

If you are using PocketBible 2 or later for iOS, here are some good reasons to upgrade to Advanced Features and how to do it.

Why upgrade?

The Advanced Features available for PocketBible on the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch offer some handy additions to the basic features of PocketBible.

You can watch an overview of the Advanced Feature Set below:

Tabs (or tabbed panes) are especially wonderful on the iPad. I keep 5 tabs open on my iPad and each tab contains a specific type of book so the headings display category of book (i.e. Bibles, Commentaries) rather than book abbreviation. When you mix different types of books within a pane, PocketBible shows the abbreviation for the top book instead of the category. Tabs make it fast and easy to move from my Bible to a commentary or other type of book and get the information I need to understand what the Bible is saying.

Autostudy is very useful to me because I often compare Bible translations when I read the Bible. If I particularly like or, conversely, don’t understand a verse, I want to see how it is translated elsewhere. Autostudy will put that together in seconds–all on one page. It will do the same for information from other types of books as well – commentaries, dictionaries, etc.. You can get more details on this feature in our article: Have you discovered Autostudy?

Would you like to have the program read the Bible to you? The Advanced Feature Set adds the ability to do this but you will need to make one more purchase of a voice (at $1.99 each) to take advantage of that ability. PocketBible voices are synthesized which means they are electronic and therefore won’t take up as much space on your device as an “audio Bible”. I have found this feature extremely handy for keeping up with my Bible reading in the car, as I clean the house, on a run — time that might otherwise be wasted can be reclaimed for a good purpose.

If you like to copy passages from your reference or other type books, you’ll want the Advanced Features as they allow you to do just that. And if your printer supports AirPrint, you’ll be able to print from the program.

Advanced Features were enhanced with the release of PocketBible 3 and now offers these additional capabilities!

  • A new Journal feature lets you add comments to PocketBible that are not connected to a specific book.
  • You can now rename your highlights colors. For example, you could change the label for salmon to love and use your highlights as categories for specific types of verses.
  • Change the behavior of the touch zone nagivation. The most common customization is to use swipe up and down for page changes instead of swiping left and right. Other customizations are possible.

How to upgrade

If you are already using PocketBible 2 or later on your iDevice, adding these new features is straight-forward:

  1. Purchase the Advanced Features at our web site for $4.99 (it is also available in-app for $1.00 more). Add a Voice at the same time if you think you want to use that feature. I prefer Tracy but our best-selling voices are Heather and Ryan.
  2. Go into PocketBible on your iOS device and choose the Menu button and Buy/Apply Upgrade (if you’ve already purchased at our website, you’ll just be applying). Choose Add/Remove Voices to download a Voice if you’ve purchased one.

You’re all set!

If you are still using PocketBible 1.4.7 (or earlier) for iOS, follow our 3 Steps to Move from PocketBible 1 to PocketBible 3 on your iOS device.

3 Steps to Move from PocketBible 1 to PocketBible 3 on your iOS device

Posted on: August 7th, 2012 by Michelle Stramel 5 Comments

Are you still using the first version of PocketBible on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch? If so, we highly recommend moving to PocketBible 3 so you can apply program updates as they are released; we won’t be updating PocketBible 1.4.7 further.

Before we explain how to make the move, check your version number in PocketBible by tapping on the Menu button and selecting About PocketBible. If it PocketBible 1.X.X, keep reading.

  1. Step One: Go to the App Store on your device and search for PocketBible (all one word). Download the program. You’ll notice that the new program has the same icon as your old PocketBible program. If you get confused, follow the tip above to check which version of the program you are in.
  2. Step Two: Delete the old program…wait! Don’t do that yet if you have been adding notes, highlights, bookmarks or tracking reading progress that you want to save. First, read the instructions (click link and scroll to the section Moving Your Notes, Highlights, Bookmarks and Daily Reading Progress to the New Program) to transfer your data. Then delete the old program.
  3. Step Three: Re-download your books. Go into the new program and register if you haven’t already encountered that. Be sure to use the email (or Laridian ID number) and password associated with your existing Laridian account. After registration, tap on the Menu button and choose Add/Remove Books to re-download your past purchases. All your books can be downloaded in one fell swoop if you tap on each book you want to download and then tap on Update at the top of the page.

Why the extra steps? Normally, when you update a program, you just go into the App store and it tells you an update is available. PocketBible will work that way again once you download the new version. If you want to know the “why” you can get it from our initial post on this new version.

Anything else to know? Yes (but it is optional). Once you install PocketBible 3, you can also purchase and install an Advanced Feature Set for $4.99. If you purchase the Advanced Feature Set, you can add a Voice or two to the program and listen to the Bible or any book. Voices are synthesized and sell for $1.99 each.

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