Archive for year 2009

New Server for OliveTree.com

OliveTree.com is moving to a new server.   We’re making this change so we can offer better, faster service to the many users who visit our website. It will increase how fast you can browse and search, how quickly you can complete purchases, and how quickly product downloads to your device or desktop will finish.  Our new server will be nine times as fast as our old one!  Overall, we think it will be a big improvement.

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For us, it’s been a substantial project.  Many people in our company have been hard at work to help this happen, especially in the last several weeks.  But for you, our users, we hope the only thing you’ll notice is better service on OliveTree.com.

In practical terms, here what the new server means for you:

  • The store should look the same and function the same—just faster, even during times of high traffic.
  • Your Olive Tree Account information will stay the same.  You’ll still be able to log in and download your purchases, just like before.

It may also mean:

  • you may see a webpage that directs you to our new location if you visit OliveTree.com early in our move.  If you click the link on that page, you’ll arrive at our new server!  But many users will be redirected automatically, and may never see the message at all.
  • some unanticipated technical difficulties.  Even though we’ve worked hard to make this transition as smooth as possible, we may still encounter bugs along the way.  If you see problems with our site, or encounter something that doesn’t appear to be functioning correctly, please be sure to report it to Customer Support.  You can also click the “Support” link in the upper right of any OliveTree.com page.  Your feedback will help us improve the website for everyone.

Thanks for your patience during this transition, and we hope you like the faster store!

What’s hot? Love Dare, powered by Olive Tree.

If you were following @OliveTreeBible, or any of our engineers like @StephenLJohnson, on Twitter, you heard when we noticed yesterday’s big spike in sales on The Love Dare: 40 Dares, a “daily dare” App for iPhone that’s an adaptation of the best-selling B&H book The Love Dare.  For a while, we were confused—Was someone running a promotion we didn’t know about?  What caused this big jump?

Today we finally figured it out—The Love Dare: 40 Dares got listed on the App Store front page, in the “What’s Hot” category.  So every person visiting the iTunes App Store got a chance to notice this little $0.99 app focused on strengthening your marriage, right up there beside T-Pain, Kelly Clarkson, and Chipotle Ordering.

We still don’t know exactly how Apple decides what’s hot and what’s not.  But we’re pleased to be up there!
What's Hot on iTunes

All Over iTunes

We were browsing iTunes today to check on how our Apps are doing.  We were surprised to see how high they showed up in iTunes search lists!

We have seven applications in the top search screen when you search on Bible. The Love Dare: 40 Dares (the brown icon at #7) is an application from Broadman & Holman Publishers that Olive Tree designed, based on the best-selling book The Love Dare.  If you haven’t heard about this best seller or the Olive Tree-powered iPhone application, you can read more here.
iTunes Bible Search
Olive Tree shows up very first when you do a general search on “Bible”.
iTunes Search on Bible

And our New King James Bible Application just turned up on the Top 20 list of paid applications!
Top Paid Books

Customer input, including purchases, reviews, and ratings, plays an extremely important role in what Apps shows up in which lists on iTunes. So if you’ve ever purchased an Olive Tree iPhone App, and if you’ve left us a review or a rating on any of our products, you’ve helped us achieve the visibility we’re enjoying today.  When Olive Tree Apps turn up in people’s search lists, we hope this spreads the word about our products and introduces new users to our mobile Bible software.
Thanks, all of you, for checking us out on iTunes!

The Dominant Animal in Mobile Bible Publishing

Olive Tree’s Spokane employees were pleased to find our company profiled in our local paper, The Spokesman Review, today.

You can read the online version of the article here: Spokane digital Bible publisher aims to stay in lead

It gives a great history of our company and a good description of what we do, including our cross-platform development strategies for the mobile marketplace and our partnership with print publishers who supply the content for our digital Bible and book downloads.

We were also happy to see Dr. Keith Reeves, professor of Biblical Studies at Azusa Pacific University, describe us as “the dominant animal in the mobile device platform for Bible texts.”  We’re glad to know that users—particularly Bible students—are finding our software useful.

One clarification we want to offer is the number of Olive Tree downloads for iPhone.  The article says, “To date the company has seen more than 400,000 downloads of its products from Apple’s iTunes”—but that’s not precisely accurate.  The 400,000+ downloads also includes users who have downloaded books or Bibles (mostly free resources) from OliveTree.com, not just iTunes.

The article also includes some great photos:  one of our CEO Drew Haninger (@DrewHaninger) in his office, complete with white board in the background (don’t laugh—our company runs on white board lists and diagrams!) and one of a demo product on Drew’s iPhone.

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: http://www.olivetreeblog.com/2009/07/08/new-book-formatter/

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 www.olivetree.com/palm/palm_pre 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.

BUttons

 

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.   

Scrolling

 

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.

toolbar

 

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).

 

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