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Getting Started with Biblelator

Last updated: 2018-02-16 RJH

This document is to help the Biblelator user to get an understanding how the developer anticipated that the program might be used.

Installation is not described here -- you should follow the instructions in before using this document.

For an overview of the program design philosophy, see

  1. Settings

    When Biblelator is run the first time, it tries to create a BiblelatorData folder in the user's home folder. Inside there, it creates a BiblelatorSettings folder and the file Biblelator.ini inside that. The idea of the settings file is that Biblelator tries to remember the size and position of open windows plus the current Scripture reference position, and to return to the last values when the program is restarted.

    The settings file can be viewed (or even changed if you are careful) with a simple text editor program. (If Notepad doesn't work, try Wordpad.) Just make sure that Biblelator is closed if you are editing settings, otherwise your changes may be overwritten when Biblelator exits.

    If you want to reset Biblelator to its default settings, the settings file can be renamed (e.g., to Biblelator.ini.bak) or deleted (if you're sure you don't want to reuse them) and Biblelator will now ignore those settings when starting up. (This might also be necessary if a bug causes Biblelator to freeze or malfunction.)

    ADVANCED: Biblelator can also be started with the --override flag to override the normal Biblelator.ini settings file with your own file, e.g., --override Test.ini will use Test.ini rather than Biblelator.ini for loading/saving program settings.

    This feature can be used if you regularly switch between a number of different project environments, e.g., you are working on separate English and French translations and have different resources, etc. open in the two different projects. Run Biblelator, set-up your windows for the English project, then exit Biblelator. Go to the settings folder (see above) and rename Biblelator.ini to English.ini. Now do the same for the French translation windows so you get French.ini. Now you can start Biblelator with either of the following: -o English -o French

    It's recommended that you edit the .ini settings file to enable Internet access unless you have (security) reasons not to. You'll also see other settings that can be adjusted. (Eventually you'll be able to set these from inside the program, but the settings editor hasn't been written yet.)

  2. Logging

    A folder called BiblelatorLogs is also created inside the BiblelatorData folder. The last two or more logs (e.g., Biblelator_log.txt and Biblelator_log.txt.bak) are kept in this folder. These logs may be useful to the programmers after a program crash to help determine what caused the fault.

    If Internet access is enabled in the settings file, and the sendUsageStatistics flag is enabled, then the logs will be automatically uploaded to the server.

  3. Main window

    The Biblelator main window is a small window that is used to open other windows. It also contains the main bar for entering book/chapter/verse values and for entering lexicon words. Note that the introduction to a book is considered to be "chapter -1". The main window can usually be kept fairly small and be placed in the most convenient part of the screen. However, if Biblelator is started in debug mode (with the --debug flag on the command line), the main window may need to be made larger in order to properly display the additional debug logging information. In touch-screen mode, Biblelator will display the main window with larger buttons suitable for touching accurately with a fingertip.

  4. Resource texts

    Resources are texts which are opened read-only for study or reference purposes as you translate in a project window. This includes most unencrypted Bibles, commentaries, and some lexicons. These might be other USFM Bibles that you have been given by colleagues in other nearby languages, or perhaps mainstream translations that have been installed on your computer by other Bible display programs or that you have downloaded. Depending on the type of resource you are opening, you might be required to select either a folder or a file to open the resource.

  5. Resource Windows

    The Resource menu in the main window is used to launch new resource windows which can be moved anywhere on your screen(s).

  6. Resource Collection Windows

    Resources are texts which are opened read-only for study or reference purposes as you translate in a project window. This includes Bibles, commentaries, and lexicons. Unllike Resource Windows above, Resource Collection Windows allow the display of several resource boxes within the same window. This makes better use of the screen space, however, these resource boxes can't display large segments of the text (like chapters) -- only a verse or two. The Resource menu in the main window is used to launch new resource collection windows, and then individual resource boxes are opened from the Resource menu inside that new window.

  7. Reference Collection Windows

    Reference collection windows display read-only cross-references all in the same version. They display individual verses, groups of verses, or ranges of verses. The Window menu in an edit window is used to launch new reference collection windows, and the references will automatically show in that same version.

  8. Lexicon Windows

    There is a Bible lexicon window, but it's not yet automatically linked to Bible resources. At this stage, you can use the text box to the right of the verse number in the main window in order to enter Hebrew or Greek Strong's codes such as H123 or G1026.

  9. Project Windows

    Projects are Bibles in the process of being translated, so they have a full edit window.

    Note that the default settings for AutocompleteMode in the .ini settings file is None. Other options are Bible and BibleBook. Using Bible AutocompleteMode slows down the starting of Biblelator as existing Bible books are scanned to find all words used, but having the pop-up autocomplete box make suggestions can significantly speed up typing of commonly used terms, plus it can also highlight mispellings if you scan through the suggestions. (Use ESC or just keep typing to dismiss the pop-up window.)

9a. Biblelator Project Windows

If Biblelator is your only Bible editor, you can use our native Bible projects. At this
stage, you simply give a Bible name and abbreviation, e.g., "My special Bible", "MSB".
The project files are saved as UTF-8 files in your BiblelatorSettings folder. (These
projects are not fully developed yet.)

9b. Paratext Project Windows

If you already have a Paratext project, Biblelator can also be used as an editor/checker
(but of course you're likely to lose work if you edit using both programs on the same
files at the same time so we suggest only having one of these programs open at a time).
You point Biblelator at the .SSF file to open an existing Paratext project in Biblelator.
(This feature is used extensively by the developer, so it's well tested, at least on
  1. Bible Groups

    Biblelator has five group codes (A,B,C,D,E) that Bible windows can be assigned to. All new windows are assigned to group A by default but this can be easily changed. Each group can be set to a different reference, e.g., if group A windows are in Matthew, group B windows might be displaying a reference in Isaiah that was quoted by Matthew.

    In the future, there will be automatic ways to display OT references (like the above example -- at the moment it must be set-up by hand) and also to display synoptic gospel references, e.g., by having separate Bible windows open in groups A,B,C,D automatically displaying parallels in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

  2. Optional Start-up Parameters

    If you start Biblelator with the --help command-line flag, the program will display the available parameters which can be used and then exit immediately.

    The --verbose flag can be used to get the program to display more information in the start-up/terminal window, although it can easily be overwhelming. However, it might be helpful to get more information in order to report a fault.

    The --debug flag is usually used by programmers to display debugging information and is more likely to cause the program to fail, so is not recommended for normal users.

    Note that the --strict flag is part of the Bible Organisational System usually used for strict checking of data files where you want to halt even if there's a small error. You usually don't want this behaviour in an editor so it's not recommended for Biblelator.

    The --single flag limits Biblelator and the Bible Organisational System to using a single thread. This only makes a difference on a multicore CPU or multiprocessor system. Setting this flag might make some debugging easier, but it may also slow down response times of the program in some cases, especially start-up.