[sword-devel] OSIS:What is the future? Who is using it now?

Chris Little chrislit at crosswire.org
Sun Mar 5 18:03:23 MST 2006

A note, Tom: Taking Michael Johnson's word and accepting his opinion on 
OSIS is a bit like taking Bill Gates' word on the future of Linux. 
They're both on record as being opposed to the respective products that 
they criticize.

Basically, OSIS is the only acceptable format for future Sword modules. 
Anything submitted in another format will have to be converted to OSIS 
by one of us (which will cause delays in release). Sword officially 
supports the full OSIS standard. Our software does not necessarily 
currently implement special behaviors for every tag, but for the most 
part every tag that needs to be handled already is. (For example, we do 
nothing with the <name> tag. Certainly it is imaginable that we could do 
something with it like highlight or hyperlink names, but currently there 
aren't any modules using this tag that I'm aware of. And our importers 
do PRESERVE this information, so adding support does not require redoing 
the module or reimporting--just some backend work on the 

OSIS is possibly most useful and beneficial as an archival format. It is 
a sufficiently rich encoding system that it can probably handle encoding 
anything in your Bible. Once it is in OSIS, you can fairly easily write 
XSL transforms to convert the OSIS text to another format if that is 
your need.

As for STEP (I'm not sure why this was brought up), it has a decreasing 
number of supporting applications. Some of its supporters have ceased 
using STEP; others have simply gone out of business. And as Michael 
mentions, it has no steering committee at the moment, which makes its 
future rather bleak. But STEP really has a different objective from 
OSIS. They serve fairly different needs.


Kahunapule Michael Johnson wrote:
> The future is hard to predict. Currently, OSIS (or rather a subset of
> OSIS) is used by The Sword Project as one option for Scripture text
> import. An improper subset of OSIS is being considered for use by a
> couple of programs within SIL, in parallel with USFM. I wrote a program
> that generates OSIS from GBF, but it should probably be either updated
> after the next round of changes to OSIS get officially published. That
> is something I don't see much benefit in doing, though, so it is pretty
> low on the priority list. I think STEP may be in wider use than OSIS,
> but STEP seems to have a lack of a steering committee at the moment, and
> the mirror of the STEP information that was on crosswire.org seems to
> have disappeared.
> Since you enjoy growing in patience and perseverance so much, OSIS may
> be just right for you... just don't get mad if you find that OSIS isn't
> widely supported after you encode a Bible in it, and that nobody
> supports all features of the full OSIS specification in OSIS readers.
> Things may look different tomorrow...
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