[sword-devel] HiFi Bible - Web based study tool derived from SWORD

Nick Watts fatalglory at gmail.com
Tue Sep 21 15:52:18 MST 2010

  Announcing - the first Beta release of HiFi Bible.
A web-based bible study and commentary sharing tool derived from the 
SWORD project.

The first beta release of HiFi Bible is now available for testing on the 
World-Wide-Web, on my personal website, http://resplect.com/hifibible

Full documentation (for administrators and developers), downloads and 
source code will be released in the not-too-distant future (when I get 
time to finish publishing it all), but for now, the actual running 
software is at least available to get a look at.

About HiFi Bible

HiFi Bible started life as a project called WebSWORD.  I was in the 
final year of my computer science degree and needed a 
software-engineering project to complete as part of my coursework.  The 
university's Anglican chaplaincy (UNEchurch a.k.a St. Mark's) agreed to 
be my client and commissioned my proposed project around July-August 
2009.  I was to create a tool for tertiary level study of the bible, 
being sure to implement advanced features, that could be put on the web 
and used by students involved in their bible study sessions.

I proposed to implement this tool by writing several small command-line 
applications using the SWORD library.  I would then develop the web 
application in PHP, which would call these command-line applications, 
receive their standard output and do some post-processing before 
displaying to the user.  This system was finished in time, I documented 
it and submitted it to my lecturer and received my high-distinction for 
the unit, as well as my bachelor's degree at the end of the year.

However, there was a problem.  Only mid-way through the development 
process did I discover that while this system of calling command line 
applications from PHP worked fine on my development system, it would not 
install and run properly on shared web-hosting environments.  In effect, 
any church or organisation that wanted to use such a tool would have to 
purchase more expensive web-hosting plans, like a VPS.  The resources 
associated with such plans are huge overkill for a small web-application 
like WebSWORD, and so this was somewhat infeasible and hard to justify 
financially.  It didn't stop me submitting the project for academic 
credit, but in practice it would be a show stopper.  I banged my head 
against the wall a few times over all the work that seemed to be going 
to waste.

I began wondering if anyone else had worked on a SWORD based 
web-application and stumbled across SWORDWeb.  This was a Java based 
application that was similar in concept to WebSWORD, but suffered from 
the same basic issue of not installing and working easily on shared hosting.

I took a job as a ministry-trainee at the Anglican chaplaincy in 2010, 
and continued using WebSWORD on my home computer for all of my own 
bible-study preparation, it came out as an excellent tool.  Gradually, 
more and more friends started noticing this software I was using over my 
shoulder and asking where this website was so they could give it a try.  
I became determined not to let this work on WebSWORD go to waste.  And 
so I contrived a plan to begin developing again.  I determined to create 
an export tool that would read the content of entire SWORD project 
modules and dump the content HTML out to SQL files that could be easily 
stored in a MySQL database.  Then I would port the back-end 
functionality of WebSWORD to access content from the database rather 
than from command-line SWORD applications.  By doing this, the software 
could be easily installed and configured on any standard XAMP stack and 
used on just about any low-end web hosting plan.

After a few months of very busy weekends and lot of empty soft-drink 
cans, I was nearly finished the porting process.  Given that SWORDWeb 
existed as a similar project, with a similar name, I decided that a name 
change was necessary for clarity.  The emphasis of this software in my 
mind was to particularly allow easy study of the bible in the original 
languages, because I strongly believe that the bible is the inspired 
word of God, and needs to be preserved with the utmost faithfulness 
(fidelity) for future generations.  Hence the name, HiFi Bible.

The software is released under the GNU GPL version 3 and is distributes 
with a collection of public domain modules (since republishing of 
copyrighted modules raises a lot of issues, which I will leave with 
individual users to deal with, with the particular publishing bodies 
relevant to their own intentions), as well as the KJV2003 which 
Crosswire has granted a general public license for.

Glory to God,

Technical Appendix
HiFi Bible uses an SQL database backend, the content for which is 
generated by scraping and dumping the content of SWORD modules.  The 
modules I have put on the demonstration installation are all public 
domain (except the KJV2003, which is under a general public license "for 
any purpose"), so I see no reason why this should cause any particular 
issue.  However, it may be that Crosswire has a problem with the 
creation of such conversion tools.  If any Crosswire staff are reading 
this and would like to comment on such issues, please do so.  The 
conversion tools are not published anywhere on the web at this time, 
because I do not want to create any hostility.  The derived SwordSQL 
format is not in any way a replacement for the SWORD module format and 
represents a decrease in information content from the original SWORD 

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