[sword-devel] Offline Bible

Nathan Kitchen email at nathankitchen.com
Thu Oct 1 07:10:40 MST 2009

I've been working on a Bible project for the last year or so and happened to
show it to a friend at church. He suggested that the sword mailing list may
be interested in it as you have put together a variety of different Bible
readers already. Although it's still very much under development (and I've
not got a source repository sorted out yet), I thought I'd follow his advice
and let you guys know about it. First, a bit of background.

Usually, I use e-Sword. It's great, but I find the UI is growing dated. I
also wanted something that I could use cross-platform, and which would
retain any notes I make against particular Bible verses. I'm sure there's
something out there which already does this, but I was enjoying writing my
pilot project so much that it got a bit out of hand. The solution I came up
with was as follows:

   - *HTML front-end* in a decent browser (read: IE8, FFX3, Chrome). Nothing
   new here.

   - *Google Gears backend.* Using the Gears plugin means that the site can
   be used without an internet connection. Any required resources (pages, CSS,
   images) are downloaded and served locally by the plugin. Also, Gears gives
   you a SQLite database which you can use from JavaScript. This is a perfect
   place to store Bible data. Currently, I've only got the KJV loading (sourced
   from an MS Access db I dug up on an FTP site a few years ago). The advantage
   of this is that searching is local, and therefore *fast*.

   Going forward, the Gears plugin is really just an experimental
   implementation of HTML 5, which natively supports a local database and
   offline resource storage. Once browsers start supporting HTML 5, the storage
   database can be switched to the native browser.

   - *Bible data installed via JSON,* gzipped with PHP to make it a bit
   lighter going down the pipe. Install works with packages which are
   themselves similar to up-only Rails migrations.

   - Any website could potentially provide downloadable packages for
   concordances & Bibles, just via a JSON service-oriented architecture rather
   than a downloadable resource-based installer. Also, any website could
   potentially run a service which allowed the user to backup/publish/share
   their Bible notes. Think Facebook, but where each person's profile contains
   their shared notes. Whenever the user opens the offline bible site, it could
   check whether the version of notes on the server is up-to-date with the
   Gears database and automatically sync or backup. Same goes for any installed
   Bibles or concordances: fixes and updates could be downloaded and installed

I think there's a lot of potential in it, but so far it can only really do a
small subset of what is outlined above. If you are interested, head on over
to http://www.offlinebible.com/ and click on "Install". As I said, you'll
need the Google Gears plugin <http://gears.google.com/> and a decent browser
(recommend Chrome). The package management is flaky at the moment, so if you
hit problems it's best to remove all the site data via the browser's "Gears
Settings", usually located in Tools > Options.

If this generates some developer interest I'd be grateful for any help
anyone wants to offer, and I'll see about setting up a GIT repository for


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