The other day I needed to send my wife a series of Bible verses. This is one of the reasons I wanted a tool for quickly getting Bible verses on iOS. Well, as I went to text her, I realized that I'd made a sloppy error when building BibleDraft 1.1 – I had not built the multiple-verse functionality to group references and passages. So I took 15 minutes last night to fix that.
If you use BibleDraft to get Bible verses on your iPhone or iPad, please update to 1.1.1. Let me know if you have other issues.
I’ve been hard at work (in the little spare time that I have) on some new projects and my use of BibleDraft has also continued to evolve. I want to thank Greg Pierce at Agile Tortiose for being so generous to tweet a link to the project on NYE 2014. I was amazed at the amount of traffic that came to my little blog (in 2 days I had more traffic than I had since I started blogging 18 months prior) for a little project about using Drafts for iOS as a Bible app. I had no idea people were so curious about it.
So, if you’re using BibleDraft, I have a little update for you. I just updated the script to v. 1.1. With BibleDraft 1.1, you can now:
Use a semicolon ; to separate multiple passages in addition to new lines of text
turned off links to the corresponding verse on ESV Bible Online. It’s actually off by default now. The “Preference” to turn them on is at Line 63 of the code.
if you do choose to have links on, the link ids are now much less hideously long
For more info on the entire project, check out the BibleDraft page in the projects section.
Also, if you’d like to use BibleDraft but don’t have Pythonista, would you let me know? Tweet to me and let me know if you have Editorial. I’m trying to see if I spend the time moving the entire project over to Editorial for greater appeal.
This workflow has been turned into the BibleDraft project. Visit that page for more info.
I have long had the desire to have quick access to the text of bible verses. Maybe I want to email it, text it, put it in Day One, or just have it for my immediate consumption. I've always felt that the Bible apps were too slow or had too many taps for that time when you just need to get the verse and move things forward.
So while on vacation this summer I took two of my favorite apps, Drafts and Pythonista and built a very simple Bible action. Drafts is perfect for this because when you open it up, it's ready to accept text. And I'd already modified a Python script for Editorial to take sermon notes with inline Bible verses. So I took those two tools and created a simple Drafts action to:
Take the draft, needs to be a Bible verse (call me Captain Obvious)
Send the reference to Pythonista
run a Python script entitled “quick ESV verse” and have Pythonista pull the reference text from the ESV Bible's API
Return the reference as bold markdown with the verses on the lines below it.
And that's all the action was designed to do. For the 3 people in the world who:
use the ESV translation
are dissatisfied with the speed of looking up verses in their current Bible app
Update 1: I realize that the way I tweaked the Drafts Action now requires Drafts 4. Some of you may still be running Drafts 3. If that’s the case let me know and I’ll update the script so it works on both versions
Previously, I had the workflow pop up an error if no text was selected. Last night I realized that popup would be better as input text box if no text was selected. So that’s the tweak I made and it really improves the workflow. That way you don’t have to type the verse and select it if you can anticipate that the pastor is going to reference another passage. You can download the updated workflow here.
One of the things I love about our new pastor at church is that he sends out an outline of his sermon on Fridays to all the small group leaders along with discussion questions. This is great because it’s allowed me to take much better notes on Sundays and to be focused on the content of what our pastor is saying, not just taking detailed notes. My main workflow for doing this has been to take the email or PDF of the sermon outline, copy it into Drafts, take my notes there, and then send it to Evernote with a custom action that puts it in my “Jesus” notebook, tags it with “Sermon Notes”, and adds the date stamp to the note title in my preferred format.
A Few Issues with Drafts
Taking my sermon notes in Drafts has been fine, but I’ve found myself fairly limited by the way Drafts is setup to work. Drafts was designed for, well, drafts. Type a quick note, send it to Evernote. Type a quick text and send it out. You get the picture. Longer-form writing isn’t in the app’s purview, and that’s what sermon notes have become for me.
The main issue I was having was getting text from the Bible apps into Drafts. I wanted it done with a URL scheme, but there aren’t any Bible apps that I’ve been able to find using the X-Callback-URL scheme. So I was
then opening a Bible app,
copying the text to the clipboard,
switching back to Drafts,
pasting the text as a new draft,
sending the text to TextTool for cleanup using a Drafts action, and
switching back to the sermon notes draft.
This workflow was eventually simplified somewhat by incorporating a Launch Center Pro action, but it was still way too cumbersome. So I was searching for a way to keep my mind more focused on the sermon than the technology for note-taking.
My Issues With The Bible Apps Available On iOS.
Before moving on to how I solved my problem, let’s just discuss the state of Bible apps on iOS. On my Macs I use Logos Bible Software for all my bible study needs. I have primarily used their great iOS app as well for my mobile study, daily devotions, and for reference during sermons. However, the Logos app has this odd formatting issue. If you copy text and paste it into another app, it includes all sorts of weird formatting, specifically related to footnotes.
In the screenshots below you can see the footnotes in Logos for iOS are in superscript. Well, when those get copied in plain text and pasted, they get converted to regular text, sometimes with zero-character spaces between them as shown in the second screenshot.
So I was looking around for other iOS Bible apps and came across the ESV Bible app for iOS. Ironically, it was my wife (not a techie), who I noticed using the app, so I gave it a try. When it was formatted into plain text, the results were much nicer (screenshots below), and thus I was able to clean them up in TextTool with a simple wrap function.
This was fine, but it was still way too cumbersome for quickly getting Bible verses into my sermon notes, especially when the pastor was on a roll. I needed a tool that could help me when the pastor just starts listing off verses that support his point.
How Editorial Helped Me With Sermon Notes
I’ll be honest, I loved Editorial when it came out for about a month. Then iOS 7 happened. The app looked dated quickly and since iOS 7 broke TextExpander support, I essentially stopped using the app. But with the recent 1.1 update, I started using Editorial again quite a bit. So much so, that I started using it for my weekly sermon notes. It came to mind one Sunday, that if I could find a Bible app that supported the X-Callback-URL I could have my ultimate powerhouse for sermon note taking. So I pinged a few random people that I knew were into tech and Jesus on Twitter.
The ESV site even had some sample script in Python, which is great because I don’t know how to script or program, I’m just able to reverse-engineer code occasionally. So, I built two simple workflows to make Editorial harness the ESV Bible’s API, and help me stay focused on the sermons and not technology on Sundays.
The Workflows for Editorial
As I mentioned above, I don’t know how to code, I simple reverse engineered some workflows and the sample code from the ESV API. There’s a lot of work that could be done on these scripts, but for now, they do what I need them to do. If you’re handy with either Editorial or Python and want to give me some suggestions, I’m all ears.