Online Bible 3.5 Released

A Few Highlights of the Latest Version

by Dale Critchley (Posted: 1/18/03)

I've been using Online Bible for Macintosh since 1992, and it's been fun to watch the program evolve. This latest release features a number of new enhancements, and begins to pave the way for the promised release of an OS X-native version.

When you install OLB 3.5, the most obvious change is the new art. OLB has left its "Copland-style" icon for a more photorealistic icon (following the OS X trend), and has also improved the splash screen. This still being a Classic app, this change is the only X-like change.

The greatest change in OLB, though, reflects a difference in how and why people use computers in 2003 compared to ten years ago. OLB has always had an incredibly intuitive interface. A true Mac app from the ground up, if you know the Finder, you can guess what various actions in OLB will do.

That has now changed.

OLB is still intuitive, but a paradigm shift has occurred. Now, instead of reflecting the Finder, OLB is geared more toward those familiar with web browsers. Instead of double-clicking on a word to bring up a definition or note, only a single-click is required, just like a web browser. (We are so lazy!) While this doesn't sound like a major change, you'll find that it takes some getting used to. Since I've been beta-testing OLB 3.5 for a couple months now, I'm used to the change, but it can take over a month to really get comfortable with it. If you have anger management problems, you might want to put a "Jesus loves you" sticker on your mouse to stop you from throwing it across the room. :^D Also, like the Microsoft Internet 5+ suite, the space bar functions as "page down" in read-only windows. (See, I told you we are lazy!)

The other major change is a significant improvement. As much as I love the Bible FKey, it's always annoyed me that you can't do non-contiguous verses with it. Well, now you can--almost. OLB has a "Copy Verses" command that will paste whatever series of verses you want, including a list from a versenotes window, into any open application. It's immensely more functional than the FKey, and the only drawback is that you have to have OLB running to use it.

The new Copy Verses command lets you select a list of verses (inluding non-contiguous ones), and automatically paste them into your favorite word processor. The pasted verses are formatted as a continuous paragraph, with the verse references listed at the end.

Note for OS X users: The Copy Verses command cannot auto-paste into OS X applications, but the selected verses are copied to the clipboard and formatted properly. Simply switch to your OS X word processor and use the "Paste" command.

Okay, raise your hand if you have a series of notes modules and hate seeing blank windows because you're using Calvin's notes or one of the other modules that groups multiple verses together under a single note. Okay, now put your hands down--people are staring at you!

For those unfamiliar with the problem I'm referring to, let me explain. OLB notes modules are designed to contain a separate note for every verse of the Bible. But some commentaries discuss a whole group of verses in a single paragraph, rather than having a separate comment for each individual verse. In such cases, the comments for a group of verses like Matthew 1:1-10 might all be contained in the note for verse 1, and the notes for verses 2-10 would therefore be left blank. In previous versions of OLB, if you synched a Bible text with such a notes module, you would see a notes for verse 1, and then a bunch of blank notes as you scrolled through verses 2-10. OLB 3.5 solves that problem by displaying the previous versenote as you scroll, rather than making you advance through a series of empty notes. Also, as you use <command>1 to switch through modules, OLB will automatically skip any module that does not contain a note for that verse, definition, or Bible version. Who cares which modules don't have information on your topic, right?

Finally, there is one new feature (besides the single-click thing) that can easily result in a keyboard-shaped imprint in your forehead á la Don Music: the new "Show Notemarks" command. You know the "Show invisibles" command in most word processors, allowing you to see grey dots and that backwards-P paragraph mark ()? Well, OLB has the option of hiding not the invisibles, but the asterisk next to Bible verses that have notes for them in your default Notes set. While this is very handy when you want to copy some verses the old-fashioned way (instead of with the new "Copy Verse" command) without those annoying *'s there, the default is to hide them, which can lead you to think all your notes are gone. Just show them, go to Preferences, and save, and you're all set, but if you have any saved desktop files like I use for sermon research, you'll have to open the file, Show Notemarks on each versions window, then save and overwrite the desktop file. Once you take care of that, you'll forget the command is even there until you find yourself in the distant future saying, "I wish I didn't have to copy all these stars...wait! There's a command for that, right? I guess I'm using it after all!"

So if you're an OLB user already, install it and repeat after me: "It's just like a web browser. It's just like a web browser." And if you haven't used OLB yet, download it (It is still free!), give your veteran OLB friends a strange look, and say, "What's the problem? Makes sense to me!" And then thank God not only for His saving Word, but for Ken Hamel and his willingness to bring us that Word for free and to continue making it even more easily accessable.

Oh, and OS X users, the carbon version will come like a thief in the night. Stop asking when. :^P

Dale Critchley is pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Delaware, Iowa. He is also the webmaster of Infinity Ltd. and LCMS Pastors' Resource. He and his wife Teresa have three children.