Remember last month, when I asked “What About Christian Web Services?” Remember when I listed a series of questions remarking that I was in touch with a major Bible publisher who responded to “An Open Letter to Christian Media Outlets” I posted back in July? Well now I can let the cat out of the bag.
Late last December, I was contacted by Stephen Smith, the webmaster for the Holy Bible, English Standard Version website. ESV for short. When you were answering the questions posted as comments back in January, he was taking notes. It also didn’t hurt that some of you came up with web services of your own and used this web site as a means of working out the kinks. But I digress.
Yesterday afternoon, I received the following email from Stephen, announcing that the ESV as the first major Bible publisher to offer their content via web services AND an Application Program Interface (API) similar to those offered by both Google and Amazon. Here’s what Stephen had to say:
We’ve finished (for the most part–SOAP is still a little shaky) the technical implementation of the ESV Bible as a web service, and I anticipate final approval in mid-February. Based on the feedback you and others had, we made some changes to what I sent you previously.
In the meantime, we’ve posted two documents for public comment:
We welcome any comments you may have. Thanks for helping us make this vision a reality.
Do you understand what this means? Imagine infusing title arguments with Scripture “The Great Commission” so hyperlinks and acronyms have more meaning (i.e. when you hover your mouse over the link) ? Or perhaps rewiring a DHTML trick for long posts to expand Scripture references the actual Word of God? Imagine your Bible Studies, Sermons and Devotionals programatically able to incorporate the Bible in the form of fully annotated footnotes? Imagine the ability to get verses of Bible into countries that would otherwise ban it with a little proxy trickery?
In other words, imagine if you will, applying Scripture to your online words in ways that are only limited by the imagination God has given us.
As you can tell, I’m pretty giddy — and grateful to the good people over at the ESV for having the vision and courage to take these steps. I’ve already given the API a spin and I can tell you, it is as easy to implement as their well documented page indicates. And in case you missed it, they are looking for input. If nothing else, send them a thank you note.
If I could ever find the time, I think the first cool tool I would create would be a MovableType plug-in that would take a custom Scripture reference tag and replace itself with the verses during generation. What about you? Go play with the API. Let the good people over at the ESV know what you think. Then come back an share your thoughts, ideas and visions. I’d be very interested to hear about them — perhaps now, it will get the attention of some other publishers — or at least help out the one who is already listening to us!-)
Thanks Stephen you really made my week!