The Gospel Library iOS Project Print E-mail
Written by Joshua Howland   
Monday, 11 April 2011

Joshua HowlandJoshua Howland volunteers as a developer on the Gospel Library iOS project. iOS is Apple’s mobile operating system, used on devices such as the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. In this article, Joshua shares information about the Gospel Library iOS project, its purposes, features, roadmap, and challenges.

What’s the purpose of the Gospel Library iOS project?

There are quite a few scripture apps on the store today. A couple of them are very good, but they are expensive. The Church wants to give all users a chance to use the scriptures across multiple devices. The other scripture apps on the store also don't contain the official scriptures, nor do they include the bookmarks, links, and information that are only available from the Church. Gospel Library for iOS is all about giving users a great experience reading and studying their scriptures on mobile devices.

What are you working on for the next version?

We’re currently working on version 2.1. In this version, you’ll be able to take advantage of the Study Notebook on LDS.org, and with your user account, sync anything you take notes on, highlight, or tag online with your device.

You’ll also be able to back up annotations, notes, and bookmarks so that if you get a new device, you can just sync it up to your account and have all your notes back.

The team is also working on bug fixes. We’re doing a great job testing bugs and putting together a very stable update to ship to users.

What’s on the roadmap after 2.1?

We just started a new section of the app called Gospel Art. We get a lot of requests for artwork to be on the device. Especially with the iPad version of the app, users want to show artwork to their classes when they teach, or to their children when they are studying scriptures as a family.

I think scriptural art makes a big difference in the feel of the scriptures. It gives a sense of warmth. As an added bonus, we will be able to add the maps section of the scriptures.

What are some of the challenges you’re facing with this project?

The biggest issue I face is that I am sitting in the middle of two paradigms. Now that we have a new device, we can display and show digital content however we want. We can use examples like Instagram, or Flickr for our design, and create an entirely new way of navigating and displaying content.

However, there is an existing physical paradigm to consider as well. We have the scriptures with pictures, and gospel art books printed. Following these models, we can display and show the content so that it’s consistent with the way these printed materials display their content. This type of interface design is called skeuomorphic.

A perfect example of apps that use the physical paradigm are the calendar app or contacts app on the iPad. These were made to look and feel like real printed calendars and address books.

The iPhone or iPad photo app, however, feel completely different from a photo library or printed book of images. The team is developing along similar lines to the iBooks app.

This challenge is not unique to my portion of Gospel Library, let alone this app. Choosing whether to create a new design paradigm or attempt to follow after relevant print version is a common issue faced by developers.

Neither paradigm -- design evolution or a skeuomorphic interface -- is wrong or right. It is all about giving the user the best experience possible.

What are some highlight moments for you on this project?

We have a weekly conference call in which we discuss the progress of the project and any major issues. I’ve spent many hours talking to fellow developers over the phone. I had an idea of what they looked like and what their personalities were. But it was completely different when I was able to meet them at the LDS Tech conference. Development can be a lonely task, so meeting the other developers on the project -- David Weiss and Stephan Heilner, for example -- made a big difference in feeling like I was part of a living project.

It is always fun to see your idea drafted on paper move onto a device for the first time. Also, watching someone interact with gospel art on a device is so cool. Like I said, I think art adds a level of warmth to the scriptures.

Does this project have any needs for additional volunteers?

The project (not just my section) really needs testers. Right now most of the developers are working through major steps to prepare the app to be updated on the store. However, when they are done it would be good to have people with iOS devices willing to test the app and look for bugs. It simplifies development if bugs are reported along with a description of how they occurred. Typically we just receive an e-mail from a user saying something is not working.

If you are interested in helping out on the Gospel Library iOS, please browse and sign-up for that or any other project here.

 
LDSTech Conference Keynotes Will Be Streamed, Sessions Will Be Recorded Print E-mail
Written by Tom Johnson   
Wednesday, 30 March 2011

We are excited to announce that the LDSTech Conference keynotes will be streamed, and the other sessions will be recorded for later viewing. This will allow the many members on the waiting list and at home to participate remotely in the conference. You can view the stream at the following URL: http://stream.lds.org/110330-110401. The following schedule lists the time for each presentation's stream:

 
We’re at Full Capacity for the LDSTech Conference! Print E-mail
Written by Tom Johnson   
Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Last year we had about 200 participants at the LDSTech Conference. This year we have 400 registrants, with another 200+ on the waiting list. This means we are at full capacity. The interest and growth in the LDSTech conference this year has been phenomenal. Here are a few last minute notes before the conference.

 
New LDSTech Site Features Integrate with Community Projects Print E-mail
Written by Tom Johnson   
Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The LDSTech website now includes more advanced integration with the community projects. If you recall, a few weeks ago we rolled out Talent Profile -- you see the Talent Profile tab when you log in to the site. Now we’ve added several more enhancements.

 
Alan Brown: LDSTech Forum Moderator Print E-mail
Written by Alan Brown   
Monday, 28 March 2011

Alan BrownIf you’ve participated in the LDSTech Forum, with questions or comments, chances are you’ve interacted with Alan Brown. Alan is one of the moderators for the LDSTech Forum, and he tries to stay up-to-date with nearly every forum post and help out where he can. I asked Alan a few questions about what it’s like to be a forum moderator.

Why did you first start participating in the forums?

I joined the LDSTech forums in November 2007 and was invited to be a community moderator in March 2008.

What drives your motivation to participate so actively?

I serve as a stake financial clerk and stake technology specialist. One of my primary responsibilities in those callings is to help leaders and clerks with their finance and technology needs. I can’t possibly learn everything on my own, so I rely heavily on the experience of the LDSTech community to help me as I help members of my stake.

I also enjoy helping people in the world-wide community of clerks and leaders, so it is rewarding to use the experience I gain both in my stake and on LDSTech to help others on the forum.

 
Meetinghouse Internet Installations Growing Print E-mail
Written by Ken Knapton   
Tuesday, 01 March 2011

Approximately half of the 17,000 LDS Church meetinghouses around the world already have Internet connections. Many more will install Internet access in the near future. For example, the Africa West area is rolling out Internet access to every stake center, district, and mission office in the area – a total of 64 locations. Meetinghouse Internet trends will probably increase, especially since Internet costs are now paid for by area offices.

It’s clear that the Internet has become an important part of communication in the Church – not just for clerk software (such as Member Leader Services), but also for teaching the gospel, helping individuals with provident living, doing family history and temple work, administering in the Church, and ministering to those in need. In areas where members are remotely located, the Internet also reduces burdens related to travel and cost for meetings and training.

 
The Vineyard: The Church’s First Crowdsourcing Site Print E-mail
Written by Tom Johnson   
Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The Vineyard, available at vineyard.lds.org, is a new Church site that allows members across the world to contribute their time and talents to do the work of the Church. Designed as a crowdsourcing site, the Vineyard allows large numbers of people to perform small tasks remotely and independently towards a larger goal.

The Vineyard

The Vineyard (vineyard.lds.org) is the first crowdsourcing application created by the Church. You can find minute-sized service opportunities here and spend as little or as much time as you want.

The word crowdsourcing stems from two words: crowd plus outsourcing. You may have heard of astronomy crowdsourcing projects, where volunteers classify shapes from thousands of images taken by telescopes. If you can chunk the work into easy-to-do bits, volunteers are more apt to participate. The work is somewhat anonymous, with no obligation or long-term expectations.

 
LDSTech Conference, March 31 – April 1, 2011 Print E-mail
Written by Ben Hutchins   
Thursday, 10 February 2011

Do you have programming or other information technology skills? Have you ever wondered how you could use those skills to build the kingdom? LDSTech makes it possible for you, regardless of your location, to consecrate your time and talents to technology projects that further the growth of the Church.

If you’ve never been involved in work like this, the second annual LDSTech Conference is a great way to start. Last year, about 150 people attended, including a few international participants. After a keynote address by Elder David A. Bednar, attendees learned about the many forward-looking initiatives currently in progress. Then they signed up for a project that matched their interests and skills and met with the project team. Attendees were even able to start work on the project right there at the conference.

LDSTech Conference

This year’s conference is March 31 and April 1, right before April General Conference. Plan to bring your computer, roll up your sleeves, and get to work. There are almost 30 different projects that need help now. Like the saints who consecrated countless hours building the first temples brick by brick, now you too have an opportunity to build the kingdom—bit by bit.

2011 LDS Tech Conference Details

Location:            
Riverton Office Building, 3740 W. 13400 S., Riverton, UT
Times:
8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. both days (there may be an additional event Thursday evening)
For Who: Designers, developers, testers, support staff, technical writers, etc.
Cost: FREE and includes breakfast and lunch
Keynote: Guest speaker
Date: March 31 – April 1, 2011
Register: http://tech.lds.org/conf

Attending the conference may not be an option for everyone, but you don’t actually have to attend to help out. You can sign up directly on the LDSTech website and build a talent profile that makes it easy to match your skills with an available project. After signing up for a specific project, a team member will contact you with more information.

 
LDS Tools for iPhone Print E-mail
Written by Tom Johnson   
Monday, 31 January 2011

LDS Tools for the iPhone, created by the LDS Church, allows you to view the member directory, calendar, and leadership callings for your ward or stake on your iPhone. Additionally, you can create contact lists and see member locations on maps.

The following screens show the features of LDS Tools on the iPhone.

 
Talent Profile: Matching Your Skills to Relevant Projects Print E-mail
Written by Tom Johnson   
Thursday, 18 November 2010

One of the challenges in aligning community volunteers with projects has been matching up the right talent with the right project.

For example, a community volunteer might say he or she has PHP expertise. A project manager begins a project that requires PHP development. If the community had just a few volunteers and project managers, it wouldn’t be a problem matching the two up.

 
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