… Between Platforms, Readers, and Vendors. The final session I was able to attend (there was one more presentation that I could not stay for due to obligations at home) was given by Mr. Craig Rairdin from Laridian. I will start my blog post off by letting you know that I was blessed with an invitation to be a Laridian VIP (very influential person) back in 2005. Nothing is required of me, except for honest feedback in response to their products that I often get a first look at in advance of public releases.
Craig started off his presentation with a bit of his history related to Bible software that goes back 20 years when developed QuickVerse and eventually co-founded Laridian. He mentioned that 20th century Bible software focused on massive and expensive libraries contained on a user’s desktop PC. Today’s 21st century Bible software user is not tied to the desktop, wants their Bible on a portable device in many cases, and uses “disposable” products. User expectations include portability of their content and the ability to backup, print, and share the content they generate, such as notes, highlights, and bookmarks.
In regards to portability, Craig talked about the challenges of the different mobile operating systems (similar to what Olive Tree explained earlier). Like Olive Tree, Laridian has negotiated portable content licenses to help users that switch platforms. He posed the question about a possible universal content license that could be shared across vendors. The idea sounds plausible and as we move away from a world dominated by DRM this may become a real possibility. This could mean you buy the NIV version of Olive Tree’s Bible and then make a move to Laridian’s Bible application with the capability to receive a free or low-cost license to the NIV Bible compatible with Laridian’s application.
I found the next portion of his talk very informative as he explained the current situation at Laridian in regards to the different platforms. Laridian has eight readers from four different sources. The readers for Windows Mobile (touch and non-touch screen), Apple iPhone, iPod/MP3 player (audio), and Windows PC are in-house developed readers. The Palm OS MyBible application was actually written by a Palm employee who then moved on to Google and sold the code to Laridian. The BlackBerry reader is from Noah and Laridian only provides the content for the BlackBerry platform. This reader is also licensed non-exclusively so it makes for an interesting partnership. Laridian also purchased the Theophilos Windows PC desktop software last year.
The primary focus of Craig’s talk was on the synchronization of user-generated content. He showed a slide with columns for notes, bookmarks, and highlights to show what platform supported each of these types of generated data. If you have tried the Laridian PocketBible Windows PC version since mid-December then you may be familiar with their new synchronization provider and Sync Manager solution. The Sync Manager is PC-based and works with the sync provider plug-in to sync your user-generated data between mobile devices and the desktop. The current sync providers are available for Windows PCs and Pocket PCs (touch screen Windows Mobile devices). The current plan is to provide sync providers for other platforms in this order:
- iPocketBible (preliminary version was demonstrated at BibleTech 2008)
- PocketBible for WM Smartphone
- MyBible for Palm OS
Craig gave demos of the PocketBible Pocket PC version and iPocketBible version. I am personally quite excited about how slick this tool works and didn’t think it could be done so well with the iPhone. Laridian is solving a MAJOR issue that I have been frustrated with for years. I used to backup my data, but I would either lose it or forget about integrating it when I switched devices and it just wasn’t a simple and easy solution. This new synchronization worked extremely well and I highly recommend you give it a try.
Craig went into the details of the logic behind the synchronization process and everything is related to time-stamps so they can determine what data is the latest and greatest. There is sound logic behind most all of the sync processes and Laridian includes a conflict resolution stage if there are apparent conflicts caused by data being changed in both locations or having time stamps different than the last sync time. Laridian may want to consider a skip or keep both conflict resolution option so that you can merge or edit your data if you previously added content on both the PC and mobile device. As a user of Windows Mobile, desktop, and iPhone Laridian applications it will be interesting to see how sync works with a PC and multiple mobile devices with different operating systems.
The Laridian Sync Manager utility can be used with providers other than Laridian as well so it may serve as a global data synchronization methodology. The details of the individual databases are isolated in the sync providers and provision is made for syncing of different formats. There are opportunities for synchronization across vendor products and any developer interested in this syncing functionality should contact Craig to discuss the future possibilities.
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