End of Year Review for 2012

Let me begin by thanking all those who have helped to make 2012 the most successful year since biblicalstudies.org.uk’s launch. I have greatly valued the contributions of all those who took the time to pray, post a comment, e-mail a question or just contacted me to point out a broken link. I have put together a brief summary here of what I consider to have been the highlights of the last year and my plans for 2013.

New material added in 2012

The following journals were added to the site in 2012:

Ashland Theological Journal
Grace Journal
Grace Theological Journal
Haddington House Journal
Mainstream (Baptists for Life and Growth)
Melanesian Journal of Theology
Proceedings of the Wesley Historical Society
Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology

Of these, two (Proceedings of the Wesley Historical Society and Churchman) took a total of 7 months work to complete. The remainder were added using existing scans supplied by the various publishers. The websites currently host between 18,000 and 19,000 peer-reviewed theological articles.

Increase in Visitor Numbers

Following the release of Churchman journal there was a significant increase in visitor numbers to the site, reaching over 64,000 in October and 60,000 in November. This put biblicalstudies.org.uk’s ranking in the top 400,000 websites in the world according to Alexa.

Site Support in 2012

In May I had the privilege of attending the European Leadership Forum in Hungary and through contacts made there received a grant from a Charitable Trust. This has allowed me to upgrade my computer hardware and software and begin a major site-wide design update to make accessing the site via mobile devices easier. Also as a result of the Forum I took on paid advertising [from Tyndale Seminary Europe] for the first time since the start of the current recession.

Things That Just Didn’t Work

In order to keep focused on your main purpose it is necessary from time to time to prune away those things that didn’t quite work out, such as:

Multiple File Formats

Over the years I have experimented with a variety of file formats to see which could be accessed most easily, including pdf, iPaper and djvu. Of these pdf has proved to be the one which most users can use and so I am in the process of removing iPaper from the site and were necessary re-scanning djvu format articles into pdfs.

Multiple Languages

Getting  articles translated into other languages has been time-consuming and not particularly successful. So, for the time being I am putting this on hold.

The Next Phase in Development

For the last 12 years I have had a list of journals in mind that I wanted see on-line and have concentrated my efforts in making that a reality. Over the last  months, truly remarkably, I have seen the last two on my list “fall into my lap” as it were.

This has brought me to the realisation that it is now time to move on the Phase Two of the Theology on the Web project, something that has only taken form in detail over the few weeks or so. Phase Two involves a slight shift in focus from adding new material (though more will still be added), to making the 18,000-19,000 (soon to be over 21,000+) articles easier to find on-line. To this end I plan to convert the tables of contents pages into database-friendly CSV files for incorporation into Tyndale House’s Scripture Tools for Every Person (STEP) software. Within that superb (and free!) software package the articles will be linked into the verse structure offering the readers relevant secondary literature to enhance and inform their Bible study. This process should a couple of months to complete, but will mean that many more people will gain access to the resources I already have on the sites.

Looking forward to 2013 I hope to make the following my priorities for the year:

  • Convert journal tables of contents into a database
  • Re-optimise pdf files with the aim of reducing their file size as much to reduce visitor bandwidth.
  • Roll-out new website layout throughout the sites
  • Find further advertisers for the sites
  • Add more material
  • Establish a base of support – click here to find out how you can help

Thank you again for your support over the last year – have a Wonderful Christmas!

New Website Layout

Regular visitors will have noticed that some of the pages on the BiblicalStudies website have changed their appearance. For various reasons it has become necessary to begin to roll-out a new page design:

  • The current design has not been changed in 11 years and looks its age.
  • The pages are based on old-fashioned tables based layouts rather than cascading style sheets.
  • The sidebars were looking very cluttered and distracting and needed cutting down to size.
  • The majority of new visitors, particularly those from the Majority World, are expected to be accessing the Internet using hand-held devices with smaller screens than you would use on a standard PC.

The new layout uses Dreamweaver v.6’s new fluid page features that adapts the pages dynamically depending on how wide the viewer’s screen is. Someone using a PC would see something like this:
Whereas if you have a tablet you might see this:
Or you might see this on a mobile phone:
Note how the right-hand column has now moved down below the main content and that the images shrink as the screen size gets smaller. The roll=out will take several weeks to complete.

What do you think of the new design? Do leave a comment and let me know.

Churchman Journal now available online

The Church Society made the following announcement earlier today:

Church Society are pleased to report that Rob Bradshaw, Director of “Theology on the Web“, has recently digitised and uploaded to the internet, most back articles of Churchman (est 1879), dating from the 1920s. Click here to view the Churchman page on Rob’s Biblical Studies website. It is hoped in due course that these files will also be made available on the Churchman website.

Rob Bradshaw comments:

“Due to the growing demand, particularly from Bible Colleges and teachers in the Majority World for this kind of material it was a great encouragement to be asked to digitise and make available on-line the back-issues of (The) Churchman. This not only represents the largest single collection yet made available by Theology on the Web, but also one of the most valuable, both in terms of the diversity of subjects covered and the expertise of the individual contributors. The scanned articles will be available both on the Church Society website and on www.biblicalstudies.org.uk. More of the older articles will be added as copies of the rarer issues become available for scanning.

Since 2001 “Theology on the Web” has sought to make high quality theological articles freely available via the Internet. Working in partnership with authors and publishers these websites now host over 15,000 articles from over 60 theological journals, many of which can be accessed on-line nowhere else and are difficult to obtain in print, even in the UK.”