Wednesday, December 26, 2007

HTML, XML, OSIS, XSEM, ThML, USFM...: What a biblical scholar should know

If the title to this post hasn't already caused your eyes to glaze over, this post is intended to provide a brief overview of what is happening with biblical encoding systems. This is a really simplified description with all sorts of caveats associated with such generalizations, but this should at least familiarize a biblical scholar with the field of biblical text encoding and equip him/her to name-drop acronyms with the geekiest of them.

We have all become quite accustomed to reading digital versions of texts related to biblical studies, but there is considerable attention being paid to how that text is presented and how it may be enhanced. For viewing on the web (and in some programs), the system used is HTML=HyperText Markup Language. HTML only describes how the data looks on a page: paragraphs, lists, bold, italic, etc. These codes are consistent, are established by a worldwide consortium, and they are important so that different browsers know how to display the data. To make more sophisticated styles and to provide for global (i.e., across a whole web site) changes to styles, HTML is often enhanced with CSS=Cascading Style Sheets.

If HTML is focused on how data is displayed, XML=eXtensible Markup Language is interested in describing the data and indicating what type of data it is. XML can be used within HTML to both describe how the data is displayed and what kind of data it is. While HTML has broadly accepted standards, XML tags can be defined by the content creator. In general terms, you can then combine HTML and XML to come up XHTML.

Here is where it becomes interesting for biblical texts, because XML can help us make all sorts of distinctions about what is going on with a text. What might standardized XML tagging do for scriptural texts? It could be used to indicate

  • A Scripture citation (We need standard ways to refer to each biblical book, how to designate chapters and verses, what punctuation to use for separating chapter:verse, etc.)
  • Greek or Hebrew lemmas underlying English translations
  • When Scripture is citing other Scripture, e.g., when the NT is citing an OT text.
  • Who is speaking You could, therefore, conduct a search looking only at the words of David or Jesus or Peter...)
  • Which translation you are citing or alternative readings or when there is a summary heading that is not actually part of the text or... The list of possibilities is quite long.
Now, this is all wonderful information that can be embedded within a text that we are able to summon as needed, and there are people doing this work, but there is not as yet an agreed upon standard used by all biblical scholars and publishers. There is a very helpful table and summary by Kahunapule Michael Johnson, but I will summarize the summary to save you some time.
  • SFM=Standard Formatting Markers: Like HTML, this uses backslash codes to define elements. There were no standards with SFM, so it has been superceded by what follows.
  • ThML=Theological Markup Language: I'll include this here as another attempt at providing the kind of encoding we are discussing. This system is used on the CCEL site (another acronymn you probably should know and probably already do: Christian Classics Ethereal Library), and it is a clever implementation for which they have quite a few Bibles and other books available. There is ThML Viewer and updated ThML Reader, but the Reader has not been fixed to work with systems with IE7 installed. (And you probably do have IE7 installed.) So, this is an interesting project, but it is limited and not likely to become a standard.
  • XSEM=XML Scripture Encoding Model: This system was proposed by the important and influential SIL International organization. It does not seem to have gathered much support, and on their own web site, they now appear to be promoting the OSIS standard.
  • OSIS=Open Scriptural Information Standard: Since OSIS is co-sponsored by the American Bible Society and the Society of Biblical Literature, it has significant support for becoming a standard. It is, however, quite complex (which is both a strength and a drawback).
  • USFM=Unified Standard Format Marker: This is a simplified system of marking using backslash codes, but it can easily be converted to USFX which is an XML format. As Johnson notes, it is easier to convert from USFM to OSIS than OSIS to USFM/X, so it is a good choice for now. There is also a free WordSend program that can be used to move between USFM/X and Microsoft Word DOC / RTF / HTML.
How much of this stuff does a biblical scholar need to know? Probably very little if any. It is, however, worth knowing about it, because it does indicate what sort of possibilities do exist for ways we can enhance digital texts related to biblical studies.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Shibboleth: Free Ancient Script Unicode Typing Tool from Logos

Shibboleth is a very nice free gift from Logos. As it states on their web site:

Shibboleth is a tool for typing Unicode text in ancient scripts. It was designed to help people unfamiliar with a script easily enter the correct characters, and then copy text to the clipboard in Unicode or another format.

While a keyboard layout is provided for several scripts, the emphasis is on helping the user recognize and select the proper characters. To that end, user input is shown in both typed and rendered format, with multiple font options, and all of the characters for each script are selectable from a well organized palette on the right side of the application window.
I have become fairly adept at typing in Greek using an installed polytonic Greek keyboard, but I often forget where those Hebrew vowel points are on the keyboard or where other special diacritics for Greek or for transliteration are located. Shibboleth will make this job easy. Support is provided for Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic, Greek, Coptic, Ugaritic, Armenian, South Arabian, and Transliteration. You will, of course, need to have appropriate Unicode fonts, and links are provided on the Logos page.

A few things to note:
  • Using this link to the Logos page, you need to run/install the program using Internet Explorer. (For some reason, Firefox will not work when you save the file and then try to run it.)
  • You will, of course, need to have appropriate Unicode fonts, and links are provided on the Logos page.
  • You can either type your text directly (using the keyboard displayed at bottom as a guide) or you can click and choose one letter at a time (by clicking on the keyboard or the letters in the column on the right).
  • You will usually want to export text using Unicode, but you can also use escaped or ASCII.
  • Output is optimized for HTML, so if you paste into a Word DOC, you will need to strip away some of the coding that precedes and follows your text. No big deal.
Thanks to Logos for sharing this tool!
UPDATE: 2007.12.28 - Logos has now posted about this tool.

Lexham Greek-English Interlinears for LXX and NT on Logos Pre-Pub

Logos recently announced that it is now offering on Pre-Pub the Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint and the Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament to accompany the Lexham resources it already has published:Lexham Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible, The Lexham Clausal Outlines of the Greek New Testament, and The Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament. ("Pre-pub" means that the item is offered at a reduced price, about 24% off list, as interest is being generated to move it into production.)

I find that I do not use the Clausal Outline of the Greek NT much at all. It helps visual the text somewhat, but it really doesn't offer that much more information than is gained by a simple awareness of the grammatical arrangement of the text. The Syntactic Greek NT, however, is very interesting. (Or at least, it will be. Only Romans, 1 Cor, Hebrews, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude, and Rev are available now. Though it has less syntactic analysis, Logos does offer the Syntactically Analyzed Greek NT which does cover the whole NT.) I can see where Lexham Syntactic Greek NT could be a real help to someone who needs a little help with their Greek. E.g., in 1 Cor 1.2, it is not immediately apparent that ηγιασμενοις is in apposition to εκκλησιᾳ, as the syntax notes make clear.

The two new interlinears being offered, however, complete the work begun with the Hebrew-English one. According to the Logos announcement:

Here are the primary features that make both of these Greek-English interlinears special:

  1. Two Levels of Glossing: Each Greek word has a simple, context-free gloss (i.e., the "Lexical value," what you'd see in a lexicon) and a context-sensitive gloss (or "English Literal Translation").
  2. Idiom Level: Where the literal translation doesn't convey the force of a passage, the interlinears provide an additional idiomatic translation.
  3. New Morphology: Several scholars have carefully worked through the morphology and made corrections. They have also added some nuancing to certain categories.
  4. Notes: There are four different kinds of notes: (1) lexical, (2) text-critical, (3) literary/rhetorical, and (4) LXX compared to the Hebrew (LXX interlinear only).
  5. Word Order Number: They also include English word order numbering where it is not clear.
Though these are indeed providing helpful information, I find that I really don't use interlinears much at all. It is not that I am basically opposed to interlinears, it is simply that they seem to me to be more of a print resource than a digital one. I.e., with all the popup help and linked resources in the software, there doesn't seem to be much need for all this information to be displayed. If one didn't know any Hebrew or Greek at all, however, it probably is helpful to scan and find a word more quickly. (The reverse interlinears that Logos offers--ESV for the OT and ESV and NRSV for the NT--might even be more helpful.) English glosses need to be used with caution, but all these resources are linked to more comprehensive lexicons.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

eLearning Tools

As part of my work with biblical studies and technological tools, I am always keeping an ways I can use and apply the technology in my courses. I've listed some resources previously, but here is a sampling of some of the stuff I check out:

I've also been working on incorporating blogs as one of my course components. I had mixed but mainly disappointing results using them this past semester in a couple courses (on Experiencing the Gospel of Mark and Opening the Scriptures: The OT in the NT), and part of it was simply that the students had no experience in blogging. I spent way too much time on the technology than I wanted to do, but this report on Teens and Social Media from the Pew Internet and American Life Project confirms how young people are indeed using multiple forms of technologies for conversation and sharing content. Course blogging will become not just helpful but essential as a conversation tool. I am also considering how I might incorporate wikis as well, and here are some of the places I'm checking:
Some other things I'm considering:
  • Second Life: There are a lot of educators and institutions committing a lot of time and money into this virtual world. I've been playing around in it a bit, and I can see where this might be going, but I don't know that I want to invest my time into it. (BTW, if you want some experience of SL without actually downloading the software and creating your avatar, etc, HERE is a 44 minute video by ABC of Australia that is quite a good intro to Second Life. A bit heavy on the business and sex stuff and a bit short on the educational resources, but it will give you a good idea of the pros/cons of a virtual world.) There are some interesting installations of universities and libraries and online courses, and churches are getting into the act as well.
  • circaVie: A site that allows users to create their own free timelines where comments, pics, and video can be arranged.
  • Voicethread - Start with an image, doc, or video. Users then respond to that material by leaving voice (using mic or telephone), text, audio, or video comments. It is free, and the idea is that it becomes a collaborative learning space.
Other ideas? I'd be glad to hear what you are doing!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Free Online/Downloadable Hebrew Grammar Instruction

It does not appear that there are very many free Hebrew instructional grammars on the web. (I've paid for my share of Hebrew grammars! I'm just saying, if someone wanted to check it out for free...) The only ones I could find (and these are not necessarily recommendations, but I have * ones that look most helpful) are:
[UPDATE: 2008.02.18] A posting on the BibleWorks Forum requesting suggestions for a Hebrew Grammar suitable for teaching an Intro class has now generated a number of responses. One recommendation by David Kummerow points to *Ancient Hebrew: A Student Grammar by John A. Cook (Asbury Theol. Sem.) and Robert D. Holmstedt (Univ. of Toronto). It is a free PDF download. In their preface they define its purpose:
This textbook is intended for a university classroom. It is divided into thirty lessons, corresponding to the typical thirty-week academic year. Following the sequence of lessons will provide the average student with a cutting-edge understanding of ancient Hebrew grammar and will enable the student to read both prose passages and less complex poems from biblical and non-biblical texts. Additionally, the textbook introduces the student to the standard Biblical Hebrew lexicon [BDB] and includes an appendix on the Masoretic “accents,” which may be incorporated into the sequence of lessons at whatever point the instructor desires.

Because of the variety of first-year biblical Hebrew textbooks currently available, it is worth briefly noting what this textbook is not: it is not a reference grammar; it is not meant to be used without supplementation from the instructor; it is not meant for self-study; it is not theologically oriented. What this textbook does not do represents fairly well the character of almost every other available textbook, and thereby indicates that there exists a significant lacuna in the world of Hebrew textbooks. This textbook is intended to fill this hole.
Thank you to Cook and Holmstedt for sharing this resource which looks to be a competent and reliable guide.

UPDATE: 2008.03.14 - SCSaunders on the BibleWorks forum found a few more resources worth noting.
UPDATE: 2008.03.15 - The hits keep coming!
  • *Davar Biblical Hebrew Vocabularies from the University of Auckland (noted by Tim Bulkeley in the comments) - Great vocabulary tool; sort by Hebrew, English gloss, root, semantic domain, or frequency.
  • **CHECK THIS SITE: I had forgotten the list of Hebrew study resources provided by Ralph Klein from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. (From the menu on the left, use "Biblical Studies Misc" > "Hebrew") Quite a few PDF Hebrew Helps files of his own along with links to Vocabulary aids, Lexicons, Grammars, and more.
If you know of other resources, please share the links with us.

BTW, for an excellent summary of Hebrew grammars available for purchase, check this post over on Codex.

Tyndale Tech now available as a blog

I've commended David Instone-Brewer before for the helpful work he shares via his Tyndale Tech emails. He has now changed to a blog format to which one can subscribe. Recommended!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Digital Resources for Biblical Mapping Update

An earlier post requesting comments on what people want in a mapping resource and how they are using it only generated one comment, but it did also generate a couple of fine postings on other blogs.

  • I've expressed my admiration and appreciation for the work being done at, and the author there posted a comprehensive list of how mapping in Bible software should develop. It is well worth reading, because that person not only has a great perspective on what is possible, but some great ideas about other ways that the maps could be used and integrated with other resources. Thanks!
  • Over on the Accordance Blog, David Lang posted on the benefits of using the Accordance Bible Atlas. It does look to be an excellent resource. I see that Accordance can be run rather well on a PC using a free emulator (instructions/links are posted on their site), but the 3D features of the Atlas are not available. I'll have to do more checking on this. In a more recent post, David also demonstrated a good example of how the mapping software might be used in understanding the battle of Gibeon.
  • Bonus: The latest blog entry provided a link to a link of work by "The Glue Society" which depicts an imagined Google Earth view of some biblical events: a God's eye view of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Noah's Ark on Ararat, Parting of the Red Sea (cf. below), and the Crucifixion. Here is the best way to see these fun pics.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Best Books on the Parables of Jesus

A bit of an experiment here... I don't use any ads to generate revenue on this blog, but there are times when I would like to recommend books, and going through Amazon is an acceptable option for me. I'm trying out a new widget here, and it looks like this:

Hmmm... I find that this experiment really slowed down the loading of this blog page, so I moved it to a separate page.

It's still only a partially developed web site, but for more information on the parables, you might check my site, The Parables of Jesus.

Updated online Bible Study site at

The Bible Study at has updated their web site. It mostly includes the standard, public domain works one can find online, but they are nicely organized here. There is easy access to quite a few English translations of the Bible. One innovation on the site, kind of a Web 2.0 thing, is that there are ways to work in a "My Bible Study" page that allows you to annotate text, and those annotations are preserved for you online. (Free registration is required to do this.) I'm not sure how widely used this will be, but it is a decent implementation of the idea.

Online Resources for Bible and Theology

My previous post on the Online Yale Course reminded me of another collection of resources that I consult regularly. The Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion is a wonderful place, program, and online resource. (As a participant in one of their workshops, I can personally recommend what great service they do and provide.) At their site, they have one page of links for Teaching and Learning Resources on the web. To encourage you to take a look, here are the categories:As you can see, most of these links are focused on pedagogy. They also have a collection of links included with the Internet Guide to Religion. Here is a but a snippet from the site that focuses on Bible related resources. I will also add here the AAR Syllabus Project. I find it very helpful to see what others are doing as I work on constructing my own courses.
While I am at it, here is a very helpful Directory of E-Learning Tools for quizzing and testing, many of which are free.

Open Yale Courses: Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible)

Yale University just announced the debut of Open Yale Courses that brings a full semester of an undergraduate class online available for free. One of the first seven to be posted is "Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible)" with Professor Christine Hayes. There are 24, fifty minute sessions, and each is available as HTML transcript, MP3 audio, or Flash or Quicktime video which works very well. There is also a midterm exam that is posted.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Coming up from Google: Knol to compete with Wikipedia

What do you think about Wikipedia? Personally, I tell my students to check it out. I think it can be used with caution and discernment. The articles I've checked related to the Bible and biblical studies have been appropriate. (And just because something is written in a 'real' book doesn't automatically guarantee it is more true or accurate!) The strength and weakness of Wikipedia has been its collaborative nature. Some items may miss the mark or miss altogether, but you also have the potential for a much wider and balanced perspective.
Here comes Google announcing an upcoming competitor to Wikipedia they are calling Knol (short for a "unit of knowledge"). According to the announcement:

The key idea behind the knol project is to highlight authors. Books have authors' names right on the cover, news articles have bylines, scientific articles always have authors -- but somehow the web evolved without a strong standard to keep authors names highlighted. We believe that knowing who wrote what will significantly help users make better use of web content.
Users will be able to rate articles and add comments but not edit them in the way that Wikipedia works. Authors will have full freedom over their content... including the decision of whether they want to include ads on the page and earn income from it. I'm guessing it will be a bit prestigious to be a Google Knol author anyways, so they should be able to solicit top experts in the field. I am wondering, however, who is making that decision for topics in the field of biblical studies. We shall have to see once Knol goes live.
So is this progress? Maybe. It seems to be similar to Citizendium which has few entries of questionable worth on biblical topics. Stephen Downes says, "It's surprising to see Google ignoring the lesson that created its huge empire in the first places: that many voices, not one expert voice, constitute authority." Well, you can think about that claim too...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Biblical Places: Locating on a map and in the Bible

As I have been soliciting suggestions for my upcoming BibleTech08 presentation on Digital Resources for Biblical Mapping, one request was made that a person would like to be able to click on a place on a map and see all the instances where it is mentioned in the Bible. Here are some ways to do just that.

  • Using the map module in BibleWorks7, right click on a place name, and then click on that place name in the popup. This causes a search to run in the BW7 main module.
  • Using the Bible Atlas, one can find the information displayed in the graphic above. If you use GoogleEarth and the downloadable kmz file which contains all the biblical information, then you can fly around in GoogleEarth, click on a place and get the information displayed like this:
  • There is a similar downloadable file from the GoogleEarth community that provides information from the ISBE or Eastons when you click on a place name instead of the references.
  • A similar online option is to use This one works through the biblical text. Clicking on a hyperlinked location name, the place is located on a GoogleMap, and then clicking on that place name will bring open the entry from the ISBE. It looks like this:
There are lots of other ways to get from a place mentioned in a biblical text to an accompanying map, but the best way to find biblical references starting by looking at a map location is the GoogleEarth with the OpenBible file. [The maps in Logos do not really lend themselves to this kind of work. I have created a resource collection of "Maps," and so I conduct searches on that collection to generate the list of appropriate maps.] Update: Mapping, Photos, Overlays, Bible Browser, Topical Bible

If you haven't checked out, it is well worth a visit. I have referenced them before for their work on Bible Geocoding and Bible Atlas and their Bible Word Locator visualizations, but they have other useful resources as well.

  • Overlays for Google Earth: There is a nice collection of ancient and modern map overlays for Jerusalem, and there is another one for biblical Bodies of Water. These overlays are great in Google Earth, because you can control the transparency as well as adjusting direction and changing perspective.
  • Photos of Bible Places: Using photos from Flickr that people have geocoded, OpenBible has mashed up a list of biblical places with those photos in that spot. It's a mixed bag of results but still useful.
  • Topical Bible is "a web 2.0 topical Bible mashup" that uses the ESV Bible and the Yahoo search resources. If you what to find what the Bible says about a topic, enter a search term, and it will not simply perform a word search, but, by using related words to your search term generated by Yahoo, return a much larger collection of verses. Once these verses appear, however, users have the ability to 'vote' on how helpful they are or not to someone wanting references to this particular topic.
  • Bible Book Browser: This is a neat way to visualize the Bible. There is a picture of the whole Bible, and by moving the cursor over a particular book, you move through the various chapter headings derived from the ESV Bible. Click on the chapter, and you are brought to the ESV text.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Digital Resources for Biblical Mapping - Help?

I am scheduled to present at BibleTech08 on Digital Resources for Biblical Mapping. I have been blogging on this topic for some time, but I am wondering if any of you have suggestions, complaints, recommendations, wishes, etc. pertaining to this subject that I might use to improve my presentation. Please note that I am focusing strictly on biblical (ie, just OT and NT periods) maps and mapping resources that are intended to be used on a computing device (computer, PDA, etc.) either as a software program or part of a program or as a resource on the internet.
I have my opinions..., but I would be interested in hearing from you.

  1. How are you using digital mapping resources now?
  2. What would you hope to be able to do with such resources? (projecting them, printing, how are you using in classroom/church/synagogue, etc?)
  3. What types of maps do you find most helpful? (Or, what makes a map not useful?) Are there some maps that you find yourself using most often?
  4. Are there features you would like to see/use in a biblical mapping resource, especially given the potential of digital/electronic tools?
Thanks for any comments/suggestions you can share.

NOTE: >>>>
To see what I have done so far, the easiest collection of links I have created is here, and here is a summary of that post noting the resources I've been checking.
  • So far, I've looked at map resources in Logos, BibleWorks, eSword, and OnlineBible. (This includes both the resources that come with the programs as well as other user-created addons.) I know there is an Atlas module for Accordance, but I have no experience with this one. (Any comments?)
  • I've spent a good deal of time looking at GoogleEarth and the user-created biblical resources. (cf. I have also been reviewing and Todd Bolen's (I'm hoping that Todd will be assisting me. He knows a lot more about the actual geography!)
  • I have the HolyLand 3D program, as well as BibleMapper, Interactive Satellite Map of the Holy Land. I have used the older Logos Bible Atlas and the Logos Deluxe Map Set.
  • I am aware of but do not have the programs from Carta, Manna, Nelson's 3D Bible Mapbook, Walking in Their Sandals, or iLumina. (Amy comments?)
  • I have been compiling lists of online collections of biblical maps (eg NTGateway,, NET and NeXt Bible maps...)

Mahalo Search Engine and Biblical Resources

"Mahalo is a human-powered search engine that creates organized, comprehensive, and spam free search results for the most popular search terms. Our search results only include great links." (Anyone can use the site and its results. Contributing to the collection of links requires a free user account.)
This site was launched in July 2007, and as a user-created database of links that promises to be spam-free and include only the best links, I thought I would do a quick check to see how well it might help in doing research related to biblical studies. The quick answer: not very well.
First, there is not much here (yet, at least) in the biblical field. The first four links to appear on The Bible page are to, Audio Bible Online, the Wikipedia article, and There are category groupings for Versions and Translations, Bible History, Bible Blogs & Discussion, Analysis and Interpretation, and then it veers into Bible Fun Stuff, Bible Criticism, and Bible Satire and Humor. Not much you probably don't already know... The page on Jesus places links first to the NET Bible and to Wikipedia. Given the relatively few links, it is a bit surprising to see so much space committed to Jesus of Nazareth in Popular Culture along with Books and Merchandise, Jews for Jesus, Jesus in the Muslim Faith, and Jesus of Nazareth Satire and Humor. Given how little biblical stuff there is on the site, the page on the Dead Sea Scrolls is rather complete..., but the first link is to Wikipedia again. The page also has a brief "Guide Note" with some "Fast Facts," and I was surprised to learn the following:

The scrolls contain text from the Hebrew Bible and are of considerable religious significance, as they are the only known evidence of late Second Temple Jerusalem... The scrolls contain the last words of Joseph, Judah, Levi, Naphtali, and Amram (the father of Moses).
Hmmm.... Bottom line: Don't bother with this site for biblical work.

Monday, December 10, 2007

NT Textual Criticism Chart Timesaver

Daniel Wallace of Greek grammar renown has been working on a software program that works with the Nestle apparatus. He describes it thus, "Essentially, it deciphers gothic M almost instantaneously, breaking down the various witnesses of gothic M into text-types and dates, and putting them all in a word document chart." If you are doing NT Textual Criticism and want a visual way of laying out the variants and their witnesses, this is a helpful program. Wallace just sent out an email noting that the PC version had been updated and that a Mac version was now available. Go to NT Textual Criticism for more info. In particular go HERE, and download the Instruction Manual to see what the program can do. The program costs $10 to download and will be going to $12.50 in the new year.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Parable in PowerPoint and Publishing to the Web

I have recently been doing some work on the 10 Bridesmaids parable in Matthew 25.1-13. To tell the story, I wanted to use PowerPoint and some simple illustration, but I also wanted to do so free of any copyright issues. So, in addition to using my own translation, I created all the graphics from scratch using an old Serif DrawPlus program. (More info here.) After creating the PPT with all the animations, I wanted to share this on the web. Here are a few examples . (Please forgive the lousy narration and background audio. I was doing this quickly and I threw together the audio using a free music program that is designed to generate copyright free midis. With more time, I would probably use something like "Wake, Awake, for Night Is Flying" or "Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers." They are available with clear copyright from a site like the CyberHymnal. Since they come in MIDI, and the programs I will use require WMA or MP3, one then has to convert them using a program like JetAudio.) I tried four [

  • HERE is a version using Camtasia Studio. Its a FLV file with narration. What's nice about this one is how fast it loads. Since I basically just ran my PPT, the timings are pretty good. (A little trick: in PowerPoint, if you click on the little slideshow icon at the lower right while you are holding down the CTRL key, it will open a mini version of the slide show and allow you to still see your slides and edit them. I recorded the mini version.)
  • HERE is a version done using the free Microsoft Producer program. This is really easy to use. You import your finished slideshow and add any audio if you want it. I used music but no narration for this one, but you can do both. (BTW, you will need IE to view this, not Firefox. This one takes a while to fully load.) I didn't bother to set the timings on the slides, but that would be possible to fix, and I also didn't bother to properly name all the slides. Do note that it does preserve the animations. The program does allow for the addition of narration and video to the PPT.
  • Check out this birth of Jesus video from Zondervan which uses audio from their "The Bible Experience." Note that it is really only a bunch of pictures with the 'Ken Burns' pan/zoom effect used. This effect is accomplished using the free Microsoft PhotoStory program. As an example, HERE is one I did using my PPT slides and adding audio and narration.(5Mb) No animations, but it could work well for some PPTs.
  • Another really easy way to publish PowerPoints to the web is by using SlideShare. Here it is embedded. (Note that it doesn't preserve animations.)
  • BTW: Want to save one of those little videos from Google or YouTube or such? (I have had occasion to need to do so when I've been presenting somewhere without web access.) I've tried a bunch of browser plugins for video downloads, but the best way I have found is to use KeepVid. Simply enter the URL of a page with a video, and it downloads it to your computer. As always, observe proper copyright restrictions.
My point? Each of these options is basically free to do. You do have to learn a bit about how they work, but they really are geared for a popular market so that anyone can do them. With the slideshare one, it is simply a matter of uploading the PPT. No doubt there are other ways to accomplish getting PPT to the web (e.g., Impatica for PowerPoint, but it costs $500), but for the educator who only does something like this on a very occasional basis, these are viable alternatives. If you have other or better options, I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Recent Posts: BW7 and Logos blogs

I'm still trying to figure out exactly how to make best use of this blog. Anyone reading this is probably already also reading the Logos and BibleWorks blogs, but in case you aren't...

  • The Logos blog has a great article by Phil Gons on External Linking to Libronix Resources and Reports. He notes the ways you can use these to provide additional information to anyone using Logos, whether it be on a web page or a footnote in a Word DOC. In addition, I am using it to create links in my BibleWorks notes to Anchor Bible Dictionary articles in Logos, since BW7 doesn't have a very good dictionary included. (How to do this? In Logos, use the ALT-CTRL-C shortcut to copy the jump link. In the user notes in BW7, add a link to text in the user or editor notes, and copy the link into the "Link Text" window.)
  • And speaking of BW7, Michael Hanel just posted downloadable Hebrew Accent Color and Consonantal Text files.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

BibleWorks Classroom Tip 1.9 - Maps Module

A new BW7 classroom tip was recently posted on "Using the BW Maps Module." It provides a concise and helpful overview of this module. (Do note that there is another map module in BW7 that uses the NET Bible maps. Resources > Maps > NET Bible Maps.) I'm working on a more complete review of the BW7 map module, but here are some additional, quick observations:

  • It is a very nice mapping program, and it is not too slow. Zooming and panning while using the Satellite Imagery overlay is the slowest. Having used GoogleEarth, I do miss the perspective panning, however. I do also appreciate the ability to use Options > Adjust Color Balance (or click on the red/green/gray icon in menu bar) and work with the colors, including turning it into a grayscale image. It is great to be able to choose between backgrounds: elevation, satellite, land cover.
  • One needs to become familiar working with the Overlays/Stacking Order window. I prefer to keep the window open, but then choose Option > Make this window transparent. Keeps it handy but out of the way. (Cf. my graphic above.)
  • Note that you can find sites within the map module using Edit > Find or by clicking on the binoculars in the menu bar. Also note that if you are reading a text in BW7, right-clicking on a place name will give the option of "Lookup in BibleWorks Maps." Choosing this will open the map module and let one choose the site.
  • Sometime labels seem too big or off the map. I think it must be an issue with zoom and/or chosen overlay.
  • Sites can be chosen related to a particular book of the Bible or event or era. One can use the Overlay window menu to toggle on/off sites, but it is perhaps easier and faster to open one of the predefined maps. (Cf. file selection window on graphic above.)
  • It is very nice to be able to edit maps and create new overlays and/or sites.
  • Note that hovering over a site will give you some information about that site: location, spelling in various versions, etc. Right-clicking on a site will give you its name in some English versions, and clicking on one of those conducts a search returning all the hits back in the base program.
  • The program does not interact with a mouse's scroll wheel (which I usually like to use for zooming).
  • There is no link between a site and the dictionaries in BW7. (You have to right click on site, click on a version to conduct a search, return to the main program, right click on the site name in the text, and select Lookup in Default Bible dictionary. That said, ISBE, Faussett, and Easton are not the greatest of dictionaries.)
  • Another nice feature is the Edit > Copy as vectors/bitmaps feature that allows for defining a rectangular area.
  • The map module does not provide the kind of maps that shows, for example, the general locations of the twelve tribes after the conquest shaded in various colors (but there is a "Division of Canaan" map with labels) or the divided kingdom (but see the "Divided Kingdom" map which does have the regions outlined).
  • One important element I really miss is the lack of any way to display the ancient roads. This is one feature where even the free to use, unregistered version of the Bible Mapper program is really helpful. (I also think that the maps in Bible Mapper are visually more attractive and clearer in their presentation of geographical information.)
All in all, the BW7 maps module is a wonderful feature for the program. I still do recommend getting the GoogleMaps/ addin, however. For more info on mapping options, check my other postings.