A year ago, give or take a day or two, our friend Brent started work on ToolTip NT (also called T4), the successor to ToolTip 3. ToolTip NT is an e-Sword authoring tool, allowing anyone to make e-Sword modules. Or at least that's how it started. Now it's used well beyond e-Sword and even beyond Bible software in general.
Without ToolTip, the biggest e-Sword modules you see on this website wouldn't be here because we would have to spend our time developing tools rather than making modules. ToolTip automatically converts verse references to e-Sword format with one of the best algorithms I've ever seen. And it works backwards, converting e-Sword tooltip references to their full (normal) text for publishing material outside of e-Sword. This is a huge time saver for making verse references for e-Sword or for other publishing needs, saving countless hours.
I remember looking on eSnips once at some old version 8 modules. The module maker left some internal notes in the module, remarks to himself and others on the module's composition. He noted he had worked for months tooltipping the module (this was a several megabyte module). And that he would try to get the rest of the module tooltipped within the next year.
Now a year after the project began, T4 has evolved into a masterpiece. The most useful of T4's features include the:
- Mass creation of database records with predefined symbols
- Best verse tooltipping and error checking algorithm freely available to the public.
- Recognition of Greek and Hebrew with color options for whatever publishing format you need.
- Various options (algorithms) for converting implicit verse references to explicit references (ver. 5 to Gen. 1:5)
- Options for chapter recognition and formatting
- Custom Bible book abbreviation recognition
- Reliable Roman numeral verse conversion to Arabic digits (John iii, 16 to John 3:16)
- Insertion of paragraph numbers
- Importing text from existing e-Sword modules, RTF, Microsoft word, etc.
- Exporting text in PDF, HTML, Microsoft Word, etc.
- Hyperlink and bookmark support
- Showing every verse reference in a paragraph, page, or document.
- Advanced study mode features for seeing the full text of verses from a verse reference
- Too many others to list
T4 would cost tens of thousands of dollars to develop from scratch, paying hourly programming rates. Ironically, Brent isn't a programmer. And many would consider his programming language "less than ideal" for text manipulation.
But Brent's confirms a theory I contemplated as a project manager some years ago. Programming languages rarely confine a programmer. A programmer's knowledge of his language confines a programmer (some exceptions, yes, but the larger point is true).
I've seen plenty of programmers who knew "just enough" to get by. I've seen plenty would need enormous amounts of time to "figure things out". I've seen plenty make excuses or even attack the legitimacy of a proposed feature because they could not program it easily. An inadequate command of a programming language often manifests itself as stubbornness.
Brent's command of a programming language is nearly unparalleled. In my lifetime in IT, I've only seen 3 programmers that knew their programming languages as well as Brent. Hats off to you, brother. And thank you!
Your ministry makes this ministry (and so many others) possible!
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