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LAUNCHED: BfA Bible Study

January 31st, 2011 Jeremy Jeremy

BfA Bible Study
Today I am happy to announce the launch of a secret project I have been working on for the past few months. It’s a free app called BfA Bible Study and if you are a christian or are interested in the Bible, you should definitely check it out.

Bible Study?

Most of you know me as someone who is passionate about apps but most folks who know me personally know that I care even more about the Bible. Frankly, though, the Bible is a very deep book and is hard to understand so I have been using an excellent study Bible called the Recovery Version with 9000 footnotes and a very readable but accurate translation to help me understand and enjoy the Bible more. I like that the extensive footnotes use other portions of the Bible to explain what the given portion is saying and they have not only helped me study the Bible but they have helped me in my daily life. Take, for example, footnote 1 on Acts 2:21 which thoroughly reveals the very much lost practice of calling on the name of the Lord – something I have found tremendously helpful in my christian life.

I am delighted that a non-profit organization called Bibles for America is giving away the New Testament edition of this study Bible for free. Given how much I have enjoyed the Recovery Version, I felt privileged to volunteer my time to help build Bibles for America’s first app – BfA Bible Study.

Main features

120 study units. These range from the doctrinal topics such as “the Triune God” to experiential topics like “Prayer” with some of the best verses and footnotes to help study that topic.
Bible reading scheduler. Select the books you want to read (i.e. Matthew to Revelation), when you want to finish (i.e. March 2010), and it will set up a portion for you to read each day. Share enlightenment on Facebook.
Search verses in the Recovery Version by reference or keyword. Since we didn’t have access to the RcV (Recovery Version) text, we are using online.recoveryversion.org and optimizing the text for the iPhone’s screen (thank you webkit).
Learn how to use the features of the RcV (footnotes, cross-references, etc.) with a Sample Study.
Order a free Bible straight from the device.

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Download BfA Bible Study for free

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Cross Platform Development

Some of the new challenges I faced with this app were localization (we launched in English and Spanish) and working within some difficult constraints (i.e. not having access to the actual RcV text). Probably the most interesting issue, though, was the fact that we were simultaneously building the same app for Android as well.

We had to design it in a way where the app would look and behave similarly on both platforms. We also tried to avoid duplicating coding effort… Obviously Java doesn’t jive too well with Objective-C so we ended up coding a lot of the views in local HTML/CSS.

For example, We used HTML/CSS to display the study topics and when the user checks off a study topic, we use HTML5 LocalStorage to save the data so we could not only share the view itself but the storage mechanism as well. I made sure that we were using native code for all the transitions so the app still feels very native (except for the Bible Reading Scheduler since that is a mobile-optimized web app and not tightly integrated). The downside to using webviews and HTML rather than pure Objective-C is that when you load the webview in, even if you use Objective-C for the transition, the webview doesn’t always load in instantly so you are sometimes transitioning into a blank view.

We didn’t use PhoneGap. I’ll be writing more detailed thoughts on this later.

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