[sword-devel] Why Sword?

Joachim Ansorg sword-devel@crosswire.org
Sun, 10 Feb 2002 13:01:52 +0100


I added some own comments.

> (1) Searching in Sword is slow.
> I have seen people comment on this for a long time, and I have seen
> little effort to fix it. In my opinion, searching is by far the most
> used feature in a Bible program, it should thus be the most concentrated
> on. For example, searching for the exact phrase "in the beginning", case
> insensitive, through the KJV takes over 10 seconds using BibleTime on my
> computer. It takes a few milliseconds using my program. Even grep (I say
> "even", because grep cannot benefit from any kind of optimisations, due
> to knowing the type of data it is dealing with, or having the file
> preloaded, etc etc) can complete the search in about 1 second the first
> time, and then less than a tenth of a second for subsequent searches
> (obviously due to fs caching). I have no idea why Sword is so slow
> compared to other programs, but I think if you are to convince people to
> use Sword rather than do it all themselves, you *have* to make searching
> fast.

Yes, I think this is right. Sadly Trevor has not time (or whatever the reason 
is) to do this, although he seemed to be the one with the most knowledge of 
searching and it's optimisations.
Maybe the restructered API will offer better possibilities for this.

> (2) Sword is difficult to install.

You are right, as an developer of BibleTime I can confirm this. I get many 
many eMails which report installation problems of BibleTime and Sword.

> I don't know about other platforms, but on Linux (and I would imagine
> other Unix variants), Sword, and whatever frontend people are going to
> be using it in conjunction with, is difficult to install. There have
> been many occasions on which I have tried to get BibleTime working on my
> system, and I haven't been able to, because of compilation errors, or
> library dependencies, or I forget-what-else. Other people experience the
> same problems; I can't count on my fingers the number of times people
> have written to me and said, "I tried installing Sword, but it didn't
> work...I tried installing your program and it just came right up!"
> Looking at the Sword website, it seems to me that substantial effort has
> been done to make the Windows version of Sword easy to install, but not
> the Unix/Linux version. I would suggest that it is a mistake to assume
> Linux users are technically apt, and able to follow complex installation
> procedures. Today I received an email from a user asking why, when he
> typed "Make", it told him the command isn't found. In developing an
> application for Unix, I think it's still very important to make it as
> easy to install as possible.

This is right. We tried to make BibleTime more easy to install by providing 
binary packages with linked in Sword library and /etc/sword.conf file and by 
providing documentation on module and Sword installation in the handbook. But 
this is not enough, because we don't have enough packages and not enough 
people to provide new ones. And many people do not read documentation.

My dream is a system, which let's you choose what to install. 
BIbleTime would be included by default, then choose by using checkboxes which 
modules should be put into the package. For example BibleTime + WEB + Eastons 
+ MHC + Personal commentary all in one RPM or DEB package. Then the user 
would have just to do "rpm -i bibletime-base.rpm" and everything would 
run out of the box. But I think this will ever be a dream (probably) ...
But a module installer would improve usability and installation.