Bible Software Review: By way of an introduction, please give us any personal information you'd like to share with our readers...
Craig Rairdin: I'm married, five kids, and a Christian since my Junior year in college (1980) at the University of Iowa, where I earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with an emphasis/minor in Business Administration. I've been programming full-time since 1982 and writing Bible software since 1987.
BSR: When did your company start, and why did you feel the need to set this project off?
CR: The Bible software we currently sell at Laridian traces its lineage through three companies. I wrote the first version of QuickVerse in 1987-88 after having downloaded the KJV Bible from a shareware distribution company. I was looking for a home programming project and thought I'd see if I could come up with something that would make it quick and easy to find a Bible passage.
I sold that program from home for a few months, then took it to Parsons Technology where it became QuickVerse. The last version of QuickVerse that contained any of my code was QuickVerse 4. QuickVerse 5 was more of a team effort, and was the last version I was involved in at Parsons before leaving at the end of 1998.
In 1998 I formed Laridian with two of my co-workers from Parsons and we wrote a program called PalmBible for Windows CE. This product later had a name change to PocketBible.
I originally got involved with Bible software for my own personal benefit, and perhaps for the use of my pastor. We formed Laridian, my current company, out of a sense of frustration with a couple of aspects of working at Parsons Technology. First was the degree to which the company, as a publicly traded entity, was more concerned with quarterly financials than with creating great products and maintaining a high level of customer service. Second was the fact that QuickVerse had grown beyond the ability of one person to comprehend and maintain it. We grew to be uncomfortable with the bigness of the development team. At the end, there were about 8-9 programmers working on QuickVerse.
BSR: What is your current role in the company?
CR: By title I'm president, but I spend a good share of my time programming. One of the reasons we started the company was that Jeff Wheeler and I, who came to Parsons Technology as programmers, were spending way too much time "managing" and not enough time "doing". We've purposefully kept the development staff almost too small so that we can't help but write code. That's what we love to do.
A piece of my time gets eaten up being the public face of the company, whether it's interviews like this or resolving issues with retailers, suppliers, and customers. I have a great team consisting of some of the finest people in this business and I trust them to handle marketing and sales, development, content acquisition and development, customer service and support, and information systems.
BSR: When you look back, what would you identify as being the single greatest feat in the history of Bible software?
CR: I would have to say the refinement of the "library" concept vs. the "Bible software" concept. The tight integration of all types of reference content with the Bible is what brings the power of the computer to bear on the problem of Bible study. Frankly, it's easier to pull a book off the shelf than it is to launch your Bible software. But when you can easily see the development of a topic or concept across not only the Bible text but all your reference books, it makes it worth firing up the computer.
BSR: What segment of Bible software users do you consider to be your main target?
CR: We target mobile device users. For the most part those users aren't interested in carrying 4000 reference books in two dozen languages around with them all the time. They need the essentials at their fingertips. And while they're interested in the original languages, th ey don't regularly read from nor study from Greek and Hebrew Bibles. A few good English Bibles and some quality reference books and they're happy.
BSR: In your opinion, what are the three most salient features of your application?
CR: As others have said, most Bible software does the same thing as all the others. Our distinguishing feature is the mobile platforms our software runs on. The portability of the hardware makes our software more compelling, in my opinion, than more powerful desktop systems. What good is the gigabytes of data at home or in the office when you're out there in the world doing the things we all do every day? If it's not right there at your fingertips, what good is it?
BSR: If you had to recommend the use of Bible software to someone who has never been exposed to it before, how would you go about it?
CR: It's been about 10 years since I met one of those people. I don't remember what I said.
BSR: Why do you think people should consider using your software?
CR: I'll leave the marketing pitch to our Web site and ads. I think you should try everything you can get a demo of and settle on something that fits the way you study. It's amazing how two people can each find the software they use "intuitive" and the software the other guy uses "confusing". Programmers model reality in their code. If the programmer's model of reality matches yours, then you'll find that programmer's software easy to use because it just seems natural. I find everyone else's Bible software, with a very small number of exceptions, useless because they don't think about the problem the way I do. The only way to discover what you like is to experiment with a bunch of options before making a decision.
BSR: What is the primary use you make of your own software?
CR: Debugging!! Actually, it's my everyday Bible. It's the Bible I take to church and the Bible I read and study from.
BSR: Is there any feature lacking in Bible software in general that you would love to see implemented soon?
CR: This is a better question for our customers. We're too close to the solution to see what we're missing I think.
BSR: Are there any specific plans to port the software to other platforms? (Windows, Mac, Linux...)
CR: We don't talk about what we may or may not do in the future.
BSR: Besides English, is or will your software be available in other languages in the foreseeable future?
CR: See the previous question.
BSR: From your perspective, what should Bible software be heading for in the years to come?
CR: Obsolescence. Now we see in a glass darkly, then face to face.
BSR: Would you like to add or share anything not covered in the previous questions?
CR: I think, especially in America, we spend too much time and money studying the Bible and too little time and money doing what the Bible says. If there was a way that technology could actually help me accomplish the simple command to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and to love my neighbor as myself, then it would be truly useful. If it's not doing that, then it's just another distraction.
BSR: Thank you so much for your time!