PocketBible for Windows Progress Update #3

Today we want to talk about our progress so far on PocketBible for Windows. At this point in the project, it’s difficult to show everything we’ve been working on because a lot of it is “under the hood” or “behind the scenes”. It’s related to how PocketBible accesses its files, or the server, or the database where your user data is stored. These are all hard to demonstrate.

But we’re at the point where there are a few things we can demonstrate, and you can see them in the video above. I’ll also briefly describe them here for those of you who, like me, don’t like to watch videos.

We’re trying to make PocketBible more tablet and touch friendly. We’ve taken ideas from our iOS and Android apps. You’ll notice in PocketBible for Windows that the toolbar buttons are a little bigger than they might be in a typical app. This is to accommodate the touch/tablet environment.

The toolbar at the top of the screen is reconfigurable. You can drag buttons onto and off the toolbar from the Preferences screen.

The toolbar on the left side controls the features of the Study Panel. This is where we display your bookmarks, highlights, notes, search results, etc. In particular today, we demo the note editor. We can style text and paragraphs as you might expect, though your edits are not yet saved to the database. You can edit your notes in a plain-text editor if you’re comfortable working around the HTML tags that control the appearance of your notes.

We have a lot of the features related to display books implemented. There’s no “navigation” features yet, but you can scroll through them and see both text and images.

We’ve been doing a lot of work on the Library functions. This is how you download and open books. You can view a list of books installed on the device or books that you own (your Cloud Library account). You can view the lists in a “gallery” format or in a “list” format.

Clicking on a book in the Cloud Library causes it to be downloaded. Clicking on books in your Device Library opens them. You’ll see a progress indicator as you download books, and you can select multiple books to download them all at the same time.

You can choose to see only Bibles, only dictionaries, only commentaries, etc. You can also search for a book by typing a portion of its name in the search field.

There are a limited number of display format preferences implemented. You can currently choose a font, font size, line spacing, and some other options. You can choose from one of several color schemes, including a “dark mode” scheme, and you can create a custom color scheme by choosing colors for each of a couple dozen different elements of the display.

There’s more going on behind the scenes that are hard to demonstrate, and there a lot of things visible on the screen that are really just placeholders. Anything you see on the screen currently could change at any point before release.

About Our Development Tool Set ‚ÄĒ Electron

I’ve been talking about our innovative, new development environment since before we started coding on the project. I want to explain that in more detail at this point. If you’re not interested in the technical side of what we do, you can probably just jump to the end at this point. ūüôā

We’re using a tool called Electron to develop the Windows version of PocketBible. Electron is a framework for creating native applications using Web technologies like JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. It combines node.js (a JavaScript run-time environment) and the Chromium engine (the guts of the Chrome browser built into the app). This allows us to write our code in JavaScript and create our user interface using HTML and CSS just like we would on a website. It wouldn’t be incorrect to describe this as a website running on an embedded Web server inside a Windows executable.

A lot of programs you are already familiar with are implemented using Electron, like VS Code, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Twitch, and Microsoft Teams. We’re encouraged by the fact that Microsoft seems to be committed to this tool set.

This lets us leverage what we know about website design as we design the user interface and write the app.

We can actually use the Chrome developer tools just like you would in your browser to debug the app. We can explore the user interface, set breakpoints in our code, and examine the values of variables ‚ÄĒ all using tools we’re familiar with from Web development.

Using Electron allows us to use our Macs for Windows development. The video above was shot on a Mac. That’s why you don’t see a menu bar in the app ‚ÄĒ on a Mac the menu for the active app is displayed at the top of the screen, not in the app’s window. Being able to run the app on a Mac is a real benefit to us since we’re 100% Mac OS here. We use it for Android, iOS, and Mac development. When necessary, we have Windows running on our Macs under Parallels so that we can use Windows apps. But we try to avoid it as much as we can. ūüôā

So that’s where things stand as of early February. You can post questions below or send them to support@laridian.com and they’ll make sure I see them and can respond.


Brief demo of multiple panes. See comments below.

PocketBible 4.14 for iOS 14

Today Apple approved PocketBible 4.14.1 for distribution through the App Store. This version coincides with the release of iOS 14, and while it doesn’t necessarily take advantage of every new feature of this latest version of iOS, it should work better than the previous version did.

iOS 14 adds a number of new features that may or may not make sense for PocketBible to take advantage of, such as widgets and app clips. Because PocketBible needs to continue to work with older versions of iOS (we go back to iOS 12 with this release), it’s not always practical to implement the very latest new features. And we never know what’s going to survive until iOS 15 and what will be dropped. So don’t expect a PocketBible complication for WatchOS or a PocketBible widget for iPhone.

Here’s what’s new in PocketBible 4.14.1:

FEATURES

Saved/named layouts on iPad. (AFS)

If you subscribe to the Advanced Feature Set, you’ll be able to save the current screen layout, which includes the number and position of open panes/tabs, the list of books open in each pane/tab, the position of each of those books, your navigation (back/forward) history, your recent searches, and your recently visited Bible verses (the latter itself being a new feature; see below).

Keyboard shortcut keys (customizable with AFS)

If you have an iPad Pro with an external keyboard, there are now key combinations that can be used to activate frequently used features like searching and navigating to a Bible verse. A list of these keyboard shortcuts can be viewed by pressing and holding the ‚Ćė (Command) key (this is true for any iOS app, not just PocketBible).

If you subscribe to the Advanced Feature Set, you can customize these commands. You’ll do that by selecting the function (such as “open a book”) then just press the key combination you want to use for that function.

Trackpad and mouse support in book panes

If you have an iPad Pro with an external mouse or keyboard with trackpad, you’ll find that 2-finger trackpad and scroll-wheel scrolling work better in PocketBible’s book panes than they did before.

New long-press functions of back, forward, search, and go-to toolbar buttons

Pressing and holding on the Back button will display the portion of your navigation history that is “behind” you. You can jump back more than one location by selecting an item from this list. If you have gone back at least one step on this list, a long-press on the Forward button will show you the locations that are “ahead” of you.

You’ve always been able to access a list of recent searches by selecting that option from the Search form. Now you can press and hold on the toolbar Search button to see that list.

A frequently requested feature was a modification of Back that would allow you to see a list of recently visited Bible verses so you could quickly jump back to a passage you had been reading. You can now access this list with a long press on the Go To button while a Bible is active.

Sync to current verse

PocketBible has long had the ability to keep all your Bibles and commentaries sync’ed up to the verse you are viewing in the active pane. That’s not always what you want to do, however. But when that feature is turned off, there wasn’t a way to easily sync your other Bibles and commentaries to the verse you’re reading. Now there are two.

When the automatic sync between Bibles and commentaries is turned off, you can choose Sync All to … from the PocketBible menu to cause all Bibles and commentaries to go to the topmost verse in the active pane (assuming the active pane is displaying a Bible).

You can also select a verse via pressing and holding, and choose the Sync button from the Selection tool bar. In that case, your other Bibles and commentaries will sync to the first selected verse.

ENHANCEMENTS

Customizable sorting of list of open books

When viewing the list of open books in the Library window, you can choose the Edit button to drag the books into the order in which you’d prefer to see them. This is a frequently suggested feature that turned out to be a lot easier to implement than we feared, though it has an important caveat.

That is, the order of the books in each pane is saved as a part of recording your navigation history. So if you change the order of books in a pane, then use Back to go back to a time before you re-ordered the books, the order will revert to its earlier state. Going Forward will restore the new order.

In addition, the order of open books is saved when you save a layout using the new Saved Layouts feature on the iPad. So if you change the order of the books in one layout, it will not affect the order of the books in the same pane in another layout.

And more…

Choosing a range of verses for searching requires fewer button presses. Once you’ve selected a range you’re taken right back to the main Search window.

Autostudy Word and Autostudy Verse will start the study when Enter is pressed in
input field (Advanced Feature Set subscription required for Autostudy).

Long-press link preview now works on the asterisks that mark footnotes in books
and Bibles.

FIXES

The correct background color was not being chosen for certain menus.

After closing the current book using Close this Book on the Library screen, the wrong book was marked as being active.

The program was not checking your AFS subscription expiration date often enough, which kept the subscription active well passed its expiration until you performed a particular action that caused it to be checked. The program now checks the expiration date on launch and at convenient intervals while you’re using the program. There is a grace period to allow you time to renew and activate the renewed subscription.

We Reached Our Goal!

Thanks to the kindness of 492 of our closest friends, we were able to reach our goal of raising $50,000 for the development of an all-new version of PocketBible for Windows! The final total came to exactly $53,000.

If you contributed to the project, you’ll get an email from us letting you know how we’re going to keep you updated on our progress. We’ll publish updates here on the blog. Some will be public like this one; others will be for supporters only.

To get things started, I met yesterday with the outside developer responsible mainly for user experience to bring him up to speed. And since the beginning of the crowd-funding campaign I’ve been working with another in-house developer to bring her up to speed on the development tools and the initial tasks we need to work on.

Even though we already have two different Windows versions of PocketBible, this version is going to be implemented a whole new way (more about that later). So we have to treat it as if we’re doing it for a whole new platform. When we launch into PocketBible for a new platform, I like to tackle the hard things first. That is, I try to identify what is going to be a challenge for us and do some prototyping or proof-of-concept tests to make sure we’re going to be able to solve those problems before they become hinderances to the schedule.

What that means is that we’re going to start kind of in the middle of the project, focusing on the note editor and user data synchronization, because those seem to always present problems on every platform. We’ve already done some experimenting with simply displaying and scrolling through text, as that’s another problem area. We’ve actually written and thrown away a few different attempts at some of those problems already.

This approach creates interesting paradoxes. We’ll be able to sync your notes, highlights, bookmarks, and daily reading progress to and from the server before the program can create or display a note, highlight a verse, or set or go to a bookmark. We’ll be able to scroll through Bible text before we can choose and open a Bible to read. But such is the world of software development, especially with a mature product like PocketBible. Even though the new version of PocketBible for Windows doesn’t exist, PocketBible itself exists both as an abstract concept and in several concrete implementations ‚ÄĒ not just the existing Android, iOS, and Mac OS apps, but our soon-to-be extinct Windows apps and our already-extinct Windows Mobile Smartphone, Pocket PC, Handheld PC, Palm-size PC, webOS, Blackberry, Palm OS, and browser-based versions. So this new Windows version already exists in our heads. Starting in the middle or at the end or the beginning is all the same to us. ūüôā

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

King James Version: Red Letters and Paragraphs

Title_PageBack in October, 2014 we updated our King James Version text. We had taken some criticism for publishing a low-quality edition of the text which couldn’t seem to be traced back to any known edition of the KJV.

Red Letters

When we published that version, we intentionally left out the “words of Christ in red” feature, because the whole goal was to get to a pedigreed version of the text and red letters were not a part of the KJV text until relatively recently.

This didn’t go over well with folks who rely on red ink to know when Jesus is speaking. So we did more research to see if we could come up with an “authoritative” red-letter edition of the KJV on which to base our editorial decisions. To our surprise, we found one.

In 1899, Louis Klopsch (1852-1910), editor of The Christian Herald, was writing an editorial for his magazine when he read Luke 22:20: “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” It struck him that a New Testament with Christ’s words written in “blood” would be both useful and highly symbolic. He approached his mentor, Rev. T DeWitt Talmage with the idea, and the men agreed, “It could do no harm and it most certainly could do much good.”

Klopsch Red Letter BibleRight away they discovered that the KJV contains no quotation marks to delineate those words spoken by Jesus and separate them from those of the narrator or other characters in the story. It also occurred to them that there are instances in the Old Testament where it is believed that Jesus appeared to the Old Testament saints and spoke to them. Should those words be in red? What about the words of Jesus when spoken by others in the book of Acts or the epistles?

Klopsch had to make a few choices (such as in John 3:16ff) about where Jesus’ words end and the narrator’s begin. He opted to omit Old Testament christophanies, but to include New Testament quotes in red. The first red-letter New Testament was published in 1899, and an entire Bible, containing the red-letter New Testament, was published in 1901.

Laridian was able to obtain a 1903 New Testament and a 1913 whole Bible, each with Klopsch’s original red-letter text. The New Testament claims an 1899 copyright and the whole Bible, 1901. From these well-used pages we manually marked up our electronic text to indicate the words of Christ.

Paragraphs

Soon after publishing our updated KJV last year we realized that the text we had worked from did not contain paragraph indicators of any kind. With a little effort we were able to find a source of that information that is consistent with the age and quality of the text itself, and have integrated that information into our text.

The King James Version has historically been printed with each verse starting on a new line, and a pilcrow (¶) marking the start of a new paragraph. We have followed that tradition, which means that in versions of PocketBible that allow you to display the text in paragraph form or one verse per line, you will always see the KJV text presented with each verse starting on a new line.

While some might argue that this format is jarring to the modern reader, we would point out that that KJV itself is “jarring” to the modern reader. We think there is great value in upholding the publishing traditions that add to the unique character of the King James Version of the Bible, and are very happy with the results of this effort to update our version of the text.

Most PocketBible users will see a note on¬†the “Add/Remove Books”, “Cloud Library”, or “Download Books” screen in PocketBible to the effect that the KJV and KJV with Strong’s Numbers texts have been updated.¬†Select the updated product to download it to PocketBible. Windows Desktop users will have to download the setup program for the KJV or KJVEC from the Downloads area of our website.

Updated King James Version for PocketBible

Title_PageWe’ve just updated the text of the King James Version we use in PocketBible. Whether you’re a devoted reader of the KJV or only have it installed because it came bundled with your copy of PocketBible, you should welcome this move to a more pedigreed version of the text.

Laridian has long been criticized for the perceived lack of attention we’ve paid to our KJV text by those for whom the accuracy of this text is a major issue. The previous version of our text was from an unknown source and contained American spellings and modern replacements for many archaic words. In some cases, these aspects of the text went unnoticed but in others they were very apparent and called into question the quality of the rest of the text.

The most commonly cited problem was our use of the word¬†thoroughly in 2 Timothy 3:17, where the original 1611 KJV uses the archaic word¬†throughly. While it is the case that the word¬†throughly is defined as “thoroughly; completely”, there are some who feel the original word conveys some additional meaning that is lost by the change to¬†thoroughly.¬†This, despite the fact that¬†Vine’s Expository Dictionary says “For THROUGHLY see THOROUGHLY” and even Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary says “For this, thoroughly is now used”. ¬†This is just one example, though arguably the most significant, of about 100 spelling changes between our previous edition of the KJV and our newest release.

A Little History

The Authorized or King James Version of the Bible was the result of a project to revise the text of the Bishops’ Bible, which was the Bible of the Church of England at the turn of the 17th century. In 1604,¬†a¬†committee of fifty-four men were appointed to undertake the revision. Work was delayed until 1607, by which time only forty-seven of the original appointees were available to work on the project. The instructions given to the translators were to alter the text of the Bishops’ Bible as little as possible and to use the text of¬†Tyndale, Coverdale, Matthew, Whitchurch, or Geneva when those translations agree more closely with the original Hebrew and Greek texts. The editors worked in several teams, each tackling a portion of the books of the Bible. When the work was complete, representatives of each group oversaw a final editorial pass through the text and two men worked closely with the printer to supervise the first printing in 1611.

A number of factors made it impossible for any two early print runs of the KJV to be identical. First, the printing technology at the time required that a single page be created by laying out individual pieces of type (each representing one letter, punctuation mark, or space) to create a form. Once the entire print run for that page was completed, the type was reclaimed to create the next page. By necessity, then, the second and subsequent printings of the Bible had to be re-set from scratch using the original documents or the previous printing as a guide. While errors in the previous printings could be corrected at this time, the resetting of every page made it possibile for new errors to be introduced. In 1725, printers at Cambridge University came up with the idea of making a plaster mould of an entire form, then using this to cast a metal stereotype or cliché from which identical subsequent prints could be made. This helped reduce the errors from constant resetting of the text.

A second source of variation in the text was the lack of a standard English orthography (spelling). Most people in the 16th and 17th centuries experienced reading vicariously ‚ÄĒ the actors in Shakespeare’s plays repeated his words on stage, and the clergy read the Bible aloud to the congregation. As long as the words could be pronounced in a way the hearer could understand, the spelling of the word on the page was irrelevant.¬†It would be another 150 years before the idea of “standard” spelling and even the concept of a dictionary of the English language would come about. In the meantime, there might be two or more different spellings of the same word within one printing of the Bible (or any book for that matter).

To complicate this further, and because correct spelling simply wasn’t an issue, typesetters would add or remove letters from words to make them fit better on a line of type. This introduced another opportunity for variation.

Even after stereotyping made it possible for one publisher to maintain consistency between printings of the same book, each publisher created their own forms and thereby introduced their own changes into the text. Publishers also felt free to add or remove footnotes, change punctuation, and revise the spelling or word usage for their particular audience.

The result of all of this is that we have literally hundreds of different versions of the King James Version text on bookshelves around the world, created over a period of more than 400 years by dozens of publishers using a variety of printing techniques. Each of these is labelled “King James Version” and none come with a list of how they differ from the printing before them, let alone the original 1611 text.

The Age of Electronic Publishing

In the late 20th century it became possible for anyone with a high-speed scanner and optical character recognition software to create an electronic copy of the King James Version text ‚ÄĒ and they did. Our previous King James Version text was the product of one such person’s efforts. We don’t know which of hundreds of available versions of the KJV text they used, but we know it had Americanized spellings (honorable for¬†honourable,¬†razor for¬†rasor,¬†counseller¬†for¬†counsellor, etc) and modern proper names (Jeremiah instead of¬†Jeremy¬†or¬†Jeremias,¬†Noah instead of¬†Noe,¬†Isaiah instead of¬†Esaias, etc.). It also used a number of modern words in place of their archaic counterparts (the previously cited¬†thoroughly in place of¬†throughly,¬†privately¬†in place of¬†privily,¬†food in place of¬†meat,¬†two in place of¬†twain, etc.).

Laridian’s Historic Position

Because the KJV has been around for 400 years; because it lived through every significant improvement in publishing since moveable type; and because we could find no two KJV Bibles (especially from different publishers) which agreed with each other, we took the position that there was no “best” KJV text. In every case cited by a customer, we could find an example of a KJV Bible from a major publisher that agreed with our version and another that agreed with them.

Lacking an obvious answer to the question “Which KJV is¬†the KJV?” short of the 1611 text (which nobody reads since it uses “u” for “v”, “j” for “i”, and something like “f” for “long s”, rendering it virtually unreadable), we turned to¬†two authoritative sources. First was Cambridge University, which is the steward of the Crown’s copyright on the King James Version in the United Kingdom. During a conversation over a meal, I asked if they had electronic files for the “official” King James Version ‚ÄĒ assuming there was such a thing, perhaps in a vault buried deep under London. Had I not been paying for their dinner, I would’ve been laughed out of the room. They repeated much of what I’ve stated above, and added the fact that every publisher over the years has made their own “corrections” and changes to the text, including Cambridge itself. They could offer me no advice other than to use one of their more recent printings (for which they had no electronic files). Since that would carry no more weight of being “the” KJV than the one we already had, that seemed like a waste of time.

I next turned to Dr. Peter Ruckman, perhaps the most well-known authority on the “KJV Only” position. Dr. Ruckman argues not only that the KJV is the only accurate English Bible in existence, but that it supersedes the original Hebrew and Greek texts in any question over interpretation of the Word of God. According to Dr. Ruckman, translations of the Bible¬†should be made from¬†it, not from Hebrew and Greek. I wrote Dr. Ruckman a letter asking for his recommendations for an “official” text of the King James Version that would satisfy the requirements of his most vocal followers for an accurate text. Dr. Ruckman scrawled “IDIOT” over my letter and sent it back to me, with the comment “any Gideon Bible”. I pulled my Gideon Bible off the shelf and found it to be a modern English version, not the KJV at all. Of course, I don’t¬†believe Ruckman was making the case that the Gideons were the Keepers of the Authoritative King James Version Bible Text, but rather that I could literally grab¬†any KJV Bible off the shelf, even the free Gideon Bible I found in a hotel, and use it in our software.

When the appeal to authority failed, we simply settled into distributing the KJV that we had and left it at that.

The Pure/Standard Cambridge Edition

Once or twice a year we are contacted by PocketBible users who have a serious problem with our KJV (usually citing the use of¬†thoroughly in 2 Tim 3:17) and encouraging us to publish “the” KJV (and threatening us if we don’t). None of these users have ever been able to point to a definitive, authoritative source for this text, but recently we were directed to two sources: The Pure Cambridge Edition (PCE) at www.bibleprotector.com and Brandon Staggs’ Common Cambridge Edition at av1611.com. Both of these sites claim to have done extensive research to produce an electronic edition of the text that matches that in use by Cambridge University Press around 1900-1910, down to the last punctuation mark, capital letter, and use of italics.

We downloaded these texts and compared them to each other. They differ in about a dozen places, none of which are anywhere near as significant as the use of¬†thoroughly for¬†throughly in 2 Tim 3:17. After looking at some other similar sources, we settled on a version of the text that draws mostly from the Pure Cambridge Edition except in a couple places where we felt the Common Cambridge Edition was better. (In particular, we hyphenate¬†Elelohe-Israel¬†and¬†Meribah-Kadesh instead of creating the “camel-case” spellings¬†EleloheIsrael and¬†MeribahKadesh used in the PCE, and we chose to leave out the footers¬†THE END OF THE PROPHETS after Malachi 4:6 and¬†THE END after Revelation 22:21.)

It was fairly trivial to convert this text to PocketBible format. The hard part was merging Strong’s numbers into it, but we’ve done that to create an updated version of our King James Version With Strong’s Numbers product as well. This has the additional benefit of bringing these two texts into agreement with each other, as even our own KJV and KJV/Strong’s texts had disagreed in a number of places.

Lessons Learned

We’ve gained a new appreciation not just for the King James Version in this process, but also for the history of the English language and printing technology. The myriad variations on the KJV text had led us to “give up” and settle for what was easy. However, this project created the desire to produce something of historical validity and significance, even if it can’t be said to be “the” KJV.

While¬†we don’t agree with those who argue that the KJV is the only English Bible we should be reading, we do agree that it has historical significance and that we should provide a version of it that meets with the approval of those who put it on a taller pedestal than we do. We believe this edition of the KJV for PocketBible meets that standard.

We’re considering publishing some earlier editions of the KJV just for their historical value. While we don’t find reading the 1611 text to be particularly edifying, we do find it interesting. For example:

“And as Moses lifted vp the serpent in the wildernesse : euen so must the Sonne of man be lifted vp : That whosoeuer beleeueth in him, should not perish, but haue eternall life. For God so loued yÕ§ world, that he gaue his only begotten Sonne : that whosoeuer beleeueth in him, should not perish, but haue euerlasting life.”

I’m particularly intrigued by the shorthand rendition of the word “the” in “God so loued yÕ§ world”. This comes from the Early Middle English spelling of “the”, which was √ĺe¬†(the archaic letter¬†thorn followed by e). When printed in the common black letter or gothic font, thorn looked very similar to y, and printers (especially in France where thorn did not exist in their alphabet) would substitute the letter y. When needed to make the words better fit on a line, the e would be placed above the y as you see here. (Another example is the word¬†thou which was often shortened to yÕß.) It’s easy to imagine how¬†yÕ§ became “ye” in “Ye Olde Book Shoppe”, and why “Ye” in this context should be pronounced with a “th” sound like “the”.

Anyway, I digress….

You can simply download the KJV from within PocketBible if you’re running PocketBible on a platform that supports that feature, or, if you have PocketBible for Windows Desktop, go to your download account at our site to download a new installation program for the KJV or KJVEC (KJV with Strong’s Numbers).