Archive for July, 2009

A Different Kind of Summer Vacation

Instead of a vacation to Mediterranean beaches this summer, Olive Tree developers are taking an intellectual vacation to the Eastern Mediterranean, the ancient home of Hebrew and Greek, the original languages of the Bible. Academics, lay people, and clergy alike have benefited from the convenience and affordability of Olive Tree’s original Greek and Hebrew products for Palm and Windows Mobile, which brought parsing, morphology, and dictionary products to the mobile platform. Now our developers are hard at work extending those same ground-breaking original language features to the iPhone BibleReader.
The recent release of the BHS/GNT BibleReader for iPhone was just the beginning, and we have great plans to update the platform in the upcoming months. What can you expect to see in upcoming product releases?

  • One touch parsing and morphology
  • Fast and powerful searching capabilities extending beyond the biblical text to the parsing information itself
  • New and improved dictionary functionality, including a nearly-unabridged version of BDB
  • Improved quality of dictionary links to support entries even when sources disagree on lexical forms 
  • Aesthetically pleasing UNICODE fonts

Behind great projects are great people, and Drayton Benner and Steven Cummings will be working on these projects for Olive Tree. Drayton studied math and computer science as an undergrad at the University of Virginia, and he worked full-time doing research and development work in mathematical software for a number of years.  But Drayton was drawn to biblical studies and had a desire to edify the church through academic teaching and research, so he shifted directions and obtained a Master’s degree from Regent College (Vancouver, BC, Canada) in Old Testament. He is now studying for a PhD in Northwest Semitic Philology in the University of Chicago’s Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations Department (Hebrew and Aramaic are Northwest Semitic languages). He is three years into these studies, and he hopes someday to be an Old Testament professor and to research, among other things, the use of computers in aiding biblical studies.  This is Drayton’s third summer working for Olive Tree, and he is “delighted to be working to provide tools to advance the work of two institutions about which I care: the church and the academy.”

Assisting him on manuscript formatting will be new Olive Tree employee Steven Cummings, who is well-versed in Koine Greek and has a Master’s of Theology in New Testament Biblical Studies from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.  Steven says, “I am excited to tackle the formatting for Olive Tree’s original language projects, and look forward to helping make original language study more accessible to those on the go!” You can read more about Steven in his own blog entry:

While there are no swimsuits or beach towels for our developers on their Mediterranean vacation, their hard work means that Olive Tree Original Language tools will be as handy to take with you to the beach as the sunscreen. 

Running Olive Tree Software on the Palm Pre

With the latest update to MotionApps Classic application, Olive Tree’s Palm 5.x software can now be installed and run from it.

You can follow the installation instructions that you’ll find at to get your product up and working. But right away, given the size of the screen, and the inability to use a stylus, you may experience some problems with accessing certain features with a screen tap.

I’d like to share with you a number of suggestions to make the process of operating our software on the Pre as painless as possible, minimizing the number of screen taps that are necessary to operate the program.

The Keyboard 
One of the advantages of the Palm Pre is its built-in keyboard, which can become the simplest means to access certain features of the BibleReader program. By simply pressing a key you can access a number of features, listed below: 

L Library
V Verse Chooser
B Bookmarks
M Notes
F Search
N Search Next
W Split Screen
T Toggle Full Screen
S Toggle Strong’s
H Verse History
A Toggle Tabs iLumina
E History Back
D Line Forward
Space Chapter Forward
Backspace Chapter Back

If you don’t care for this particular list of choices, you can go into Tree>Options>Preferences and select Shortcuts – Alpha from the drop down list.

Via Keyboard


Select the shortcut and select modify, or hit the add button, and set up the shortcut that you really want and makes sense to you. If you get a little too ambitious creating and changing your shortcuts and get confused, you can rest easy knowing that the developers thoughtfully left a default button for you to make it all right again.

Shortcuts Via the Buttons 
If you are not much for memorizing a bunch of keyboard commands, another option is to assign many of these same functions to buttons. What button goes with which number? Here is a list so you can keep it straight:

Button Number
Contacts 1
Calendar 2
Mail 3
Home 4

The opportunities are somewhat limited, in that there are only so many buttons to assign, but it can be helpful if you, like me, tend to hit the home key by accident on occasion and move the app out of view. Reassigning this key alone to something fairly unobtrusive might save you some anguish as you attempt to aim for the 5-way navigator button. The down side of this reassignment is that you have removed the button assignment that is the means to get back to the main Classic screen.



You can also control the behavior of the navigator button while in BibleReader by setting the options at Tree>Options>Preferences, and select Scrolling. Designate the navigator to move your text by line, verse, or screen among other choices. I set the right and left taps of the navigator for screen scrolling, but you will probably have your own preference on this. In this same screen, you can also designate the location and size of the scroll bar, and setting it for large does help however it is still pretty useless if you have your screen split. Down at the bottom were some check boxes I never investigated before, but now think will be quite useful: I set the Up/Down action of the 5-way navigator for next hyperlink/scroll, and so when I use this feature I can jump from note icon to note icon, hit the center select button and the note opens up.   



Shortcuts Via the Toolbar
If you go into Tree>Options>Preferences, and select Secondary Toolbar, you get a number of helpful options. I moved the toolbar to left and changed it to large buttons, which is a necessity if you are really going to use it. Of course, as soon as you go to large icons so much less will fit on the screen, so you can use the options available under this preference choice to set your most used choices to the top (visible) part of the toolbar.  My choices were split screen, daily reading, notes, maximize screen, and some highlighting choices.



Final Notes

You’ll definitely want to make sure you’ve listened to and dealt with your voicemails, as the voicemail strip will cover up the bottom of the screen and interfere with the 5-way navigation button.
Because of the small screen size, I would recommend setting your BibleReader program for a maximum of two windows (Tree>Options>Preferences, select Split Screen).


New Book Formatter

Hi everyone! I am the newest of the newbies (at least for a little while) here at Olive Tree. My name is Steven. My duties here at Olive Tree are primarily going to be in book formatting. I’m still learning the ropes, but I am excited about the opportunities here.

My education is in the Biblical Studies field. I have a Master’s of Theology in New Testament Biblical Studies from the University of Edinburgh in good ‘ol Scotland. Though I grew up the Southeast (no I don’t really have a cool accent – sorry to disappoint), I made my way out to Spokane shortly after returning from Scotland. I had been working for a marketing firm doing systems administration before finding Olive Tree’s posting.

One of the biggest “draws” for me was Olive Tree’s work with original languages. I really enjoyed learning Greek in school and even teach a Greek class now. So the opportunity to jump in and help in the original language projects here seem like they will be right up my alley. I look forward to working with this great team to produce quality original language tools.


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