BibleTech08: Day 2 – Session 01, The State of Open Source Bible Software Development

This session was led by Troy A. Griffits and to tell you the truth I thought it was going to be something way over my head since I am primarily a user of technology and not a programmer. I was very pleased to learn that this session was indeed for the user like me as Troy spent some time demonstrating some of the wonderful tools available from the CrossWire Bible Society. As you can see there are lots of free tools and resources available, such as the CrossWire Wiki, the SWORD project, GnomeSword, MacSword (what I have on my Mac) and much more.

I have the Rapier application loaded on my Nokia N800 and it uses the SWORD project modules for the texts. Prior to this conference I was confusing the SWORD modules with e-Sword which are two completely separate products. Make sure you first install Python 2.5 on your N800 before loading up Rapier. It is currently a great Bible reading application and I hope the developer continues to work on adding features and functionality.

In terms of mobility, Troy also mentioned the Palm Bible+ application that used to be an open source project and SWORD Reader for Pocket PC. I have tried the Palm Bible+ application before, but it has been a few years since I looked at it. This was the first I heard of the Pocket PC SWORD Reader and I’ll have to take a look at it. There are also some other mobile resources like the QPSword application for Sharp Zaurus Linux-based devices and I do still have an older 5500 I could try this on.

Troy’s first live demonstration was for the online OSIS Bible Tool that lets you access text via a web browser. I was very impressed with the Parallel Bible Tool and plan to use this for the study of different translations side-by-side.

Troy then showed something from their labs that was quite impressive, but something that was WAY over my head. He showed how you can take a papyrus image and use tools with a Google Maps-like UI to annotate and add transcriptions to mapped areas of the papyrus document. These can then be shared like Google Maps with a link to the page where you actually added content and notes. This may be quite handy for academics and those who study the original Word.

A colleague (sorry I did not get his name) then showed the SWORD project in action in both Windows and Linux formats. The Linux Bible, GnomeSword, actually can run on a Windows PC too. It was quite functional and very feature-packed for a free application.

I also learned that these amazing CrossWire tools are all written, updated, and managed by volunteers in their spare time and I praise the Lord for these developers taking the time to make these tools readily accessible for all of us.

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