Saturday, January 24, 2015

Orthodox Study Bible trade-offs

Some of you are unhappy with the latest big update to the Orthodox Study Bible app.

Some reviews in the App Store:

New update of Orthodox Study Buble ★★
by Orthodoxlady - Version - 5.0.1 - Jan 7, 2015
I'm sure this is still a good app of this bible, however the newest update has done away with the attractive look of the app. I would rather have kept the ability to change font style in my own settings. Disappointed!!!  Before the update this looked like an attractively formatted book, it is now just blah!

It's ok ★★
by Toughgirl96 - Version - 5.0.1 - Jan 5, 2015
I'd give a 5 star to the original app I bought, but one star to the update. I want it back how it was!!!

What happened? ★★★
by Kevin May - Version - 5.0.1 - Jan 9, 2015
I agree with the other reviews. What happened to the attractive design?

First of all, thank you for the kind words about the original design! It (and what we did for the Eastern Orthodox Bible app) took a bit of work to develop, and I was also happy with the way it turned out. (Thank you to Zander Renault for the design help!)

Unfortunately it also took a bit of work to maintain. Adding the custom look made the code different enough from the "plain" VerseWise Bible app it's based on that whenever I fixed a bug or added a feature I risked having a difficult time integrating it with the OSB app code. This was technically doable but, VDUB Software being a part-time operation, it slowed development down. To a crawl at times. (I don't think any new features were added in 2014.)

And then a couple things happened:
  • iOS 7
  • iPhone 6 and 6+

iOS 7 looks a lot different than previous versions of iOS, but it also changed a lot under the covers. Updating the "plain" VerseWise Bible apps was going to require a fair amount of work. And given how simpler things could sometimes be difficult to integrate with the OSB app, this had to potential to be a nightmare.

And the iPhone 6 and 6+ were released. The iPhone 5 had lengthened the height of the iPhone 4, but maintained the same width, so adjusting to the new size was not always difficult. The new 6 and 6+, however, offered two completely new screen sizes, different in height and width. None of the current custom assets were going to work.

So ... given that I wanted to support the iPhone 6 and 6+ screen sizes as soon as possible, start releasing updates in a timely fashion again and work on new features, I decided to start over. The OSB app would return to the common VerseWise Bible app codebase. 

Some think the iOS 7 looks "plain"; I like to think of it as "clean" or "straightforward". I apologize to those who prefer a more distinctive look, but the choice really is between the app being distinctive or the app having new features. 

What new features you ask? Things like storing bookmarks and highlights on iCloud so they can be easily copied to more than one device. Things like being able to configure "Today's Reading" to use a different jurisdiction's readings or having the reading appear in the "Today" view of your phone. Things like an iPad version.

I'm excited about the possibilities for the upcoming year! I hope you are too. Thank you for your support and your patience.