The project was retired on March 3, 2011. See comment #15.

Today marks the official first day for, a Bible viewer for the iPhone. It was specifically written to be extremely easy to use and fast without any distractions getting in the way. I stuck to the KISS (keep it simple stupid) style. The interface is very simple, no images were used, and code was trimmed to reduce loading times on the EDGE network. On the server-side, code and databases are also kept as simple and fast as possible to give the most time to the network to actually transfer search results.

I’m very excited to see how the application scales under heavier use now that it’s out in the wild.

The Story from Start to Finish

I was sitting in church last Sabbath and the preacher was doing the usual “turn to” routine. So I whipped out my iPhone to make use of the handy-dandy web browser, which I have to say is fantastic, however, I’m not so impressed by AT&T’s EDGE network. So, by the time finished loading the congregation was already on to a 3rd “turn to,” and I hadn’t even entered my first search yet! After the service I hunted for some better bible viewers but was sorely disappointed. There are some great looking ones out there but they are bogged down with lots of javascript and images leaving the performance on the EDGE network utterly unacceptable.

So I decided to put my rather idle server to work and make use of the spare resources. Within a few hours I had a simple working implementation. Long story short, and I really wished I had been blogging through each phase, I ended up including several other people in on the project (see About Page). After several redesigns based on the inital underlying implementation we settled on the current one, based off of the simple FaceBook website. Throughout the course of the week we added functionality for complex passage lookups and full text database searches while spending the bulk of our time pulling our hair out trying to actually get The Bible into our MySQL database.


From setting up the development environment and the MySQL database going up, the project took 6 days, 8 hours, 26 minutes to complete (not actual man-hours). 724,331 queries were made to the database during that span of time. That works out to be ~4,705 an hour or ~79 per minute. The initial application load only requires 71 lines of javascript, 114 lines of CSS, and 27 lines of HTML for a total of 212 lines of client run code. Processing is done server side with PHP (excluding database builders) for a total of 515 419 lines (with verbose documentation).

What should have been the easiest part of the project turned into the longest and most complicated: getting The Bible from a poorly formatted text file to the database. I personally wrote 2 different parsers, both iterations failed horribly because of special cases in the text file. The final working parser was written with the help of Professor Schmidt in PHP to achieve the final successful import and ended up being around 230 lines of code. With the different design implementations and glorious failures, I would say that over 2,000 lines of code (incl. HTML & CSS) were written then tossed for various reasons. So, if you have been adding those numbers up, the entire project both client and server-side ended up being roughly only 631 lines with documentation.

Update 3/8/08 @ 5:40 PM: Updated final server-side lines of code tally. The application has also been submitted to Apple Apps repository!

15 comments… add one
  • Jon Stacey Feb 3, 2011 Link Reply

    Hello everyone,

    I’m posting this comment in case someone wanders across this page and is wondering what happened to Well, was developed for the iPhone before the App Store existed. Now there are Bible viewers that run natively on the iPhone and iPad. Additionally, usage of has significantly declined since the availability of native apps. As such, I’m retiring once the domain expires on March 3, 2011. has served around 100,000 user queries since launch. Thanks for using it!

  • mike reddig Nov 3, 2009 Link Reply

    Jon: What translation of the Bible did you use here? Didn’t readily see it. Thanks. mdr

    • Jon Stacey Nov 4, 2009 Link Reply

      @mike, The default version is NIV, but KJV and ASV are also available on the preferences page.

  • Andrew Aug 9, 2009 Link Reply

    Copy & paste does not seem to work when I am in the web app? It would be great to be to look up a passage, copy it, & then paste it into another applicatio (like e-mail or notes).

    • Jon Stacey Aug 9, 2009 Link Reply

      Thanks for the report. I just pushed up version 2.1 which should get copying working 🙂

      • Andrew Aug 9, 2009 Link Reply

        Copy/paste works great now, thanks! I have been eyeing a Bible reader in the App Store for a while now but the one I want is $24.99, so it is great to have this free resource you have created! I have added to my home screen.

      • Andrew Aug 9, 2009 Link Reply

        P.S. I have an iPhone 3G, but I usually run it on the EDGE network to save battery life. I love how quick your web app is over EDGE!

  • Jon Mar 30, 2008 Link Reply

    Forrest: I’ve sent you an email. If anyone else is interested, just use the contact form to drop a line and I’ll get back to you.

  • Forrest Mar 30, 2008 Link Reply

    I was just wondering where you get the bible text that you parsed? I’m a programmer and wanted to do something similar, but couldn’t find downloads of bible text that I could then write a parser for. Any resources you used would be appreciated. By the way, your implementation rocks! Thanks.

  • jessica Mar 29, 2008 Link Reply

    Definitely bookmark worthy. I love how fast this application is, and how accurate. The design is perfectly simple. Thank you for all those hours of hard work!!

  • William Mar 25, 2008 Link Reply

    Great job on this app! I have had my iPhone since last June and tried out the Bible apps that were out there right away and was not very impressed. I gave up on the concept, but now I’ve bookmarked your site. I love the reponsiveness and clean interface.

  • Adam Berke Mar 19, 2008 Link Reply

    This is a wonderful site, John. Keep up the good work!

  • Chabel Mar 19, 2008 Link Reply

    I have to say the interface for this is simple and very effective…It is great to have the bible with me everywhere i go, and the searches are very fast and responsive…Thank you…

  • Jon Mar 18, 2008 Link Reply

    I’m not aware of any online applications that have it. I imagine it may be pretty hard to find since it’s not included in most canons. Sorry!

  • john r Mar 16, 2008 Link Reply

    First of all, let me say thank you for creating this wonderful application! It is so nice to be able to find the peace and answers I need at my fingertips. Sometimes that breif reflection can make a bad day just better. I was wondering though if you knew if there was an application for the Apocrypha? I enjoy reading those books as well and didn’t know if I could do so via iPhone as well. Any help that you could offer in this matter would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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