[sword-devel] Tagging verses and verse lists

Jonathan Morgan jonmmorgan at gmail.com
Sun Dec 2 06:36:51 MST 2007

Dear all,

I have a suggestion for a feature that I would consider very useful in
Bible software.  This idea I originally characterised in terms of
"tagging", but my brother said it sounded very much like verse lists.
My personal view is that verse lists may be useful in implementing
something like tagging, but the two are semantically different (for
example, a verse list tends to imply an order, while tagging doesn't.
Similarly, tagging would tend to be considered to apply to a verse
that was tagged, while a verse list is just a list of verses.)

I'll describe a couple of uses for this feature:
1. When studying a particular topic, verses that relate to the topic
can be tagged with that topic, and then the knowledge that the verse
is related to the topic is saved as part of the software.
2. When reading a particular passage, verses may be noticed that apply
to different topics that the reader is interested in, and each one
tagged with its own topic.

There are quite a few pieces of Bible software that appear to have
verse lists or a similar feature.  However, none that I have tried
would appear to support both these cases well.  They appear to be
oriented to working with a verse list, and typically they will be
oriented to the current verse list.  If I want to perform use (2),
this means that I have to (often tediously) change the current verse
list, so that I can then add the verse to the verse list.

So, based on this, my proposal is as follows:
1. Support for persistent, named verse lists is added to Sword [note
that I use verse lists as the generic name for the concept, but I
think the list should include passages].  I think it is important that
this support is added to Sword, so that I can use my verse lists with
any application.  I believe Sword already supports ListKeys and
similar for things like search, but they are never stored anywhere.
2. Search is extended to include tags/verse lists (e.g. only search
verses with tag, exclude verses with this tag, etc.)
3. It is possible to add and remove passages from a verse list, as
well as creating and deleting verse lists.
4. It is possible to export verse lists as a list of references, or as
the complete set of passages from a particular version (this may be a
front end issue).  Being able to import existing verse lists would be
nice too.  It might also be useful to compare and merge verse lists in
various ways.
5. Verse lists are able to be created from other verse lists (for
example, from a list of search results).
6. Front ends include support for verse lists and tagging.  Possible
features include:
    a. Offering an option to create verse lists or new tags
    b. Tagging the selected verse or passage with a particular tag.
    c. Managing a verse list.
    d. Display all the passages in a verse list.  I would suggest that
this is done however the front end typically displays search results,
for consistency.
7. Adding tag information to the displayed verses as an option.
Possible methods of display are:
    a. The user elects to highlight or mark in some way verses with
particular tags (like many do with physical Bibles).
    b. Tags are displayed embedded in the text after the verse,
similar to how tags are frequently used in other contexts.

I think that 7b would be particularly useful for this feature, since
it gives the user a visual indication of all the information that they
have put into this system when they are using the application.

It is unlikely that I would do much work on the front end side, but I
can try and find time to add support for it to Sword if it is
considered useful.

Links to some information about verse lists in other applications:
* Bible Reference Exporter
<http://www.thechristadelphians.org/htm/bre/index.html>: This has been
designed specifically for this.  Its main problems are that it is
designed for creating one verse list at a time, and it doesn't support
enough Bibles (the usual liability of DIY development, that Sword
largely manages to avoid).
* e-Sword has support for verse lists, but I find it fairly cumbersome to use.
* The Librarian page <http://www.brs-inc.com/bible/library.html>
offers a reasonable summary of some of the advantages of verse lists.
* SwordSearcher Verse List documentation

Questions?  Comments?


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