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A Bible reading and study tool

xulsword is a Bible reading and study tool intended to be easy to use, yet very powerful at the same time. It utilizes popular Open Source technologies such as The SWORD Project and Firefox and will always be a free program. It is designed for full internationalization, including right-to-left languages. Potential users include those who are not experienced at using a computer, those who might be new to the Bible, and those who may not have (or may not want to use) an internet connection.

Distinctives include:

  • Direct text download. Allows easy download of hundreds of texts in hundreds of languages with the "Add New Module" interface (located under the File menu, or else just press F2).
  • Single file internationalization. Simple drag-and-drop of an XSM (XulSword Module) file automatically adapts the program to a new language by installing a user interface translation, new Bible(s), glossaries, bookmarks, fonts, audio files, and more. This file can be downloaded from the internet, passed from person to person, distributed on DVD/CDROM, or even emailed. RTL languages are fully supported (the entire UI becomes RTL).
  • Very readable texts. Texts can be nicely formatted to appear on screen the way they look in printed form. Text flows from column to column (up to three columns). Font, font size, line spacing etc are adjustable for each text.
  • Easy Bible browsing. Go to any heading in the entire Bible with a single click using the graphical Bible navigator. This also gives a visual representation of the Bible.
  • Print capability. A powerful print feature allows Bible texts and related information to be easily printed, and includes print preview.
  • Integrated audio. Allows you to listen to the Bible and read along. Export audio for other uses, such as mp3 players.
  • Text Links. Bible texts and footnotes can include quick links to associated dictionaries, which may include pictures, maps and tables.
  • Recursive popup windows. Dictionary links, cross references, footnotes and more appear in multilevel recursive popup windows that allow instant access to a variety of information without necessitating a complex user interface layout.
  • Powerful bookmark and personal annotation features. Annotate texts with personal notes, create and organize bookmarks, notes and verse lists. Make quality printouts of your notes and verse lists, or export them to share with other xulsword users.
  • Secure texts. Texts can be encrypted and secured to prevent others from tampering with them. There are no encryption keys to enter or lose (or find), and users never even know that a text is encrypted.
  • The marriage of Firefox with SWORD provides the best of both worlds by combining the power and speed of C++ in the back-end SWORD engine with the quick and easy programming of a Javascript front-end and CSS3 UI.

Plus many other features provided by the SWORD engine, such as:

  • Compatible with a wide variety of Bibles, commentaries, glossaries, books, and devotionals which are already freely available in the SWORD standard.
  • Powerful search capability.
  • Parallel and interlinear version display.
  • Much more...

Compilation instructions for Linux

Linux (Ubuntu Xenial/Bionic): Run

Cross-compiled to Linux 64/32 bit: On MS-Windows, Linux, or MAC install VirtualBox and Vagrant and run:

$ vagrant up

Linux builds will appear in the /build-out directory.

Compilation instructions for MAC OSX El Capitan:

Install Firefox and Homebrew. Then run

Compilation instructions for MS-Windows

Build requirements

The following programs need to be in the command path:

  • Git
  • 7-zip (command line version)
  • Perl
  • Microsoft SDK (GRMSDKX_EN_DVD.iso for 64 bit builds) You may need to run Setup/SDKSetup.exe (instead of setup.exe) to allow compiler installation. Unfortunately this version of cvtres.exe is broken which adds custom launcher icons. The official fix creates yet another bug by deleting amnintrin.h so that nothing compiles... Workaround in progress...

Compilation Steps

  • Get the xulsword code from GitHub.
  • Get the XulRunner runtime (version 41.0b9).
  • Get Clucene (version 0.9.21b).
  • Get SWORD (svn revision 3203) source code.
  • Check or add paths in xulsword/build/build_settings.txt for XULRunner, CluceneSource, SwordSource, MicrosoftVS and MicrosoftSDK.
  • Run xulsword/build/
  • Start the program by running xulsword/build/ (which is created when you build xulsword). The development version of the program has a hidden button which displays useful debugging features when clicked. This invisible button is located JUST under the top menu bar at the FAR right of the xulsword window. Debugging buttons will appear in that same area when the invisible button is clicked.

Build Controls

Build controls are in xulsword/build/build_settings.txt. Build the Development version, Portable version, Firefox extension, and Setup installer version by setting their values to "true". Install modules with your build by adding your repository path(s) and by adding SWORD module names to the IncludeModules line. Various user preferences can be set in xulsword/build/build_prefs.txt as well. To help protect texts from tampering, a security module is provided. To enable the security module, set UseSecurityModule to true and set the path of KeyGenPath to your key generator.

Locale Creation

##What must be translated? The phrases used by xulsword's user interface are found in xulsword/localeDev/en-US/UI-en-US.txt. Optional bits are in xulsword/localeDev/en-US/UI-en-us_2.txt.

Add a new locale to xulsword

Locales are automatically packaged when xulsword is built. Create xulsword/extras/localeDev/<locale-code> and put the locale files there. Edit xulsword/build/build_settings.txt so IncludeLocales lists <locale-code> and XulswordExtras is ../extras. Rebuild and start xulsword.

A new user interface choice will appear in the Options -> Language menu of xulsword. Also, a locale extension module will be created under build-out which can be used to install the new locale into other compatible versions of xulsword.

Optional user interface possibilities

  • Many optional locale configuration settings are found in xulsword/localeDev/en-US/UI-en-us_2.txt including the order of Bible books, short-cut keys for menu commands, CSS font-family, font-size, etc., and localization of numerals and search symbols, among other things.
  • A locale-files subdirectory, containing a localized splash image called splash-overlay.png may be included.
  • A skin-files subdirectory, containing files which will overwrite the default skin, may also be included. This allows you to run xulsword with a customized skin for your locale.
  • Some scripts (like Arabic), which cannot simply be printed vertically, will need images for vertical texts. These images should be placed under the locale-files subdirectory.

Audio Modules

Translations may have associated audio readings of the text. These audio files can be packaged in zip files for easy installation into xulsword. After installation, audio icons will appear above the associated texts to play their audio recording. Audio files may be exported from xulsword with File -> Export Audio.

Packaging an audio module

An audio module is a zip archive with a directory structure containing ogg audio files like:


The audio-code can be chosen three different ways:

  • Usually, it is simply the name of a SWORD Bible module (and module names are case sensitive, so make sure the directory name exactly matches the module name).
  • Sometimes, when audio files need to target more than one Bible module (for instance two modules of the same translation using different scripts), then any unique audio-code may be used, but in this case all SWORD modules associated with the audio files need to have AudioCode=<audio-code> in their .conf files.
  • It is also possible to use the ISO-639 language code as the audio-code, which will then associate the audio files with all SWORD modules shareing that language code.

Audio file coverage

An ogg file should cover an entire Bible chapter. It's perfectly ok if only certain chapters have audio files. It's possible to have multiple chapters recorded in a single audio file, but this is not recommended because users will only be notified of the existence of the first chapter's recording (the audio icon will only appear in the first chapter which is covered by the audio file).

Audio file tagging

Audio files can be exported from xulsword, so it's also a good idea to tag the audio files. But xulsword itself does not require or utilise audio file tags.

PECL extension: phpsword

The PHP extension brings libxulsword's API into php.

Compilation and use

Compile the extension by going to the xulsword/Cpp/phpsword directory and running:

$ phpize
$ ./configure
$ make
$ sudo make install

This will install the extension to your php shared extensions directory.

Next, to enable the extension you can add the following to your php.ini:


And then restart PHP:

$ sudo apache2ctl restart

Finally, to access phpsword from PHP, do something like this:

if (!extension_loaded("phpsword")) {
    header('Location: ' . $redirect_URL); 

$Sword = new phpsword($repository_path);

$My_modlist = $Sword->getModuleList();


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