Bible Desktop 1.0 Released
If you're a Christian who uses one Bible study program on Windows, another on GNU/Linux, and yet another on Mac, you'll be glad to know that the Bible Desktop team have just made life a little bit simpler for you. With the release of Bible Desktop 1.0, a Java-based Bible study program, you can use the same program across GNU/Linux, Mac, and Windows. While some free software activists will loathe the choice of Java, Bible Desktop is available under the terms of the GNU GPL. From the simple, yet functional interface to the highly responsive developer team, Bible Desktop has a lot going for it.
While many users shy away from version 1.0 of any project, don't let the version number fool you. This project has been slowly evolving since at least 2000. According to DM Smith, a key developer with the project, "Joe Walker and Mark Goodwin started ProjectB many years ago to create Bible software in Java." ProjectB was integrated with JSword when Troy Griffits, who heads up the Crosswire Bible Society and the Sword Project, called for a Java implementation of the Sword library in 2002. Thus, JSword is the engine that interacts with the various Bible and commentary modules, while Bible Desktop is the user interface that people actually see and work with. JSword 1.0 also uses the Open Scripture Information Standard (OSIS) XML format for rendering biblical texts.
The Bible Desktop developer team is extremely responsive. In fact, they may be just a little too responsive. Smith acknowledged that one of the major obstacles they ran into in releasing 1.0 was the constant addition of new features, mostly at users' requests. "BibleDesktop has been ready for a 1.0 release for over 6 months. During that time we kept adding features and responding to user feedback. Since there was always just one thing more that we wanted to do, the release kept getting pushed out," said Smith. Although it's important to know when to release your project, the extra six months may well work in the team's favor.
The fact that it's written using the platform-independent Java environment makes Bible Desktop highly versatile. Perhaps the real beauty of Bible Desktop, though, is that its simple, yet functional interface allows users to quickly find what they need and get involved in studying God's Word. Users can choose between a multi-window or tabbed interface for working with biblical texts. Lengthy search results can spill over into new tabs, kind of like a Yahoo or Google search breaks up searches into pages. Dictionaries, lexicons and other study aids are immediately available in a side pane. Users can quickly switch between resources according to their needs.
Brent Nemmers wrote the manual on Bible Desktop. In fact, some libre software documentation writers might need to take lessons from Nemmers. The Bible Desktop manual is a well-written document available in PDF format. While most of Bible Desktop's features are simply intuitive, less savvy users will feel more comfortable having a manual to guide them. The Bible Desktop manual is comparable in clarity to the manuals published by OpenOffice.org and MySQL. Suffice it to say that more folks like Nemmers are needed in libre software projects.
Bible Desktop is definitely a community project. According to Smith, "We want people to have a sense of participation in the Bible Desktop project. If they will provide feedback on our bibledesktop-users mailing list, we will be glad to incorporate those ideas into future releases. Most of what was put in from 0.9.8 until 1.0 was in response to user feedback." And there is room for others to pitch in as well. Translating the program into other languages, updating the documentation and creating an integrated help system are among the most important areas where users can jump in.
Looking to the future, Smith says the project will work toward using the OSIS files directly, rather than having to convert them to Sword format. The team will also work to improve interaction with Bibles using a different verse structure than the King James and improving the search mechanism for languages other than English. The goal is to gear up 2.0 toward the more serious students of scripture - pastors and seminary students, for example. Others who desire to engage the Scriptures on a deeper level will also benefit from the progress of Bible Desktop.
Note: Visit the Bible Desktop page for more information.
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|Do you like it better than Bible Time?||oilyfish||2||1,317||Jan 16, 2006 12:47 AM|
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