Accordance Blog
Mar 9, 2011 David Lang

A Tourist Guidebook on Steroids

When we first developed the Bible Lands PhotoGuide, we envisioned it as a reference work and teaching tool. If Accordance users wanted to find out more about a site, they could look it up in the PhotoGuide and get an in depth description and photos with detailed captions. If they wanted to put together a slide presentation, they could do so simply by dragging the image thumbnails onto a Keynote drop-zone. With the advent of the iPad, we've discovered a new use for the PhotoGuide: as a tourist guidebook.

If you travel in Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Greece, or other Bible lands, you're likely to pick up a tourist guidebook of some kind. These books are usually a convenient size and offer listings of the sites tourists typically visit. They give information about the things worth seeing at each site, along with brief descriptions of hotels, restaurants, and other attractions. The better ones may include photographs and illustrations to help prepare you for what you'll be seeing.

I relied heavily on tourist guidebooks in preparing the PhotoGuide. They were able to give me insight into what I was seeing in modern photos of various sites, but they were not necessarily good at giving information that would help illustrate the Bible. For that I had to turn to historical atlases, Bible dictionaries, and the like. The result is that the PhotoGuide combines the best of both worlds. Like our human guide on this trip, who is able to explain the features of the land today, yet who is also a scholar with expertise in biblical geography, the PhotoGuide helps you see the living world of the Bible behind the ancient ruins which remain.

One reason tourist guidebooks only seem to give cursory information about the Biblical significance of each site is that they simply don't have the space for it. A guidebook has to cover hundreds of sites in a volume small enough to be carried with you, and it has to include information about hotels and amenities as well as historical information. There's simply no way they can do all those things well. The PhotoGuide, on the other hand, is not limited by the constraints of a print volume, and so is able to provide the depth those resources cannot. Of course, it's not very convenient to carry a laptop with you while hiking up Herodium, so its effectiveness as a guidebook while touring biblical sites has always been limited.

Herodium from below as seen in the PhotoGuide. (You don't want to hike up there carrying a laptop!)

Now, however, you can load Accordance and the PhotoGuide on your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. Which means, of course, that you can carry all that information with you to each site you visit. Where a print guidebook might offer a diagram of the Herodium which shows you the location of the synagogue or the round eastern tower, with the PhotoGuide you can find a photo which matches your current vantage point and read about what you're actually seeing.

The interior of Herodium as shown in the PhotoGuide

Whether or not you ever get to travel to Israel or other Bible lands in person, the PhotoGuide can really help you appreciate the historical and geographical setting of the Bible. If you do get the opportunity to tour these places, remember to load the PhotoGuide on an iPhone or iPad so you can use it as a tourist guidebook: a tourist guidebook on steroids!

By the way, the PhotoGuide is currently on sale, along with two other collections of Holy Land photos.


Mar 8, 2011 David Lang

In Israel with Accordance on my iPad

As I mentioned a little over a week ago, my wife and I are currently touring Israel with some other members of the Accordance team. I've already described how I created custom maps of each day's itinerary to help my kids follow along with where we'll be each day. The maps include representative images from each site, together with a list of Scripture references. I printed each of those maps out and taped them to a wall in our home.

As soon as I finished those maps, I realized I would like to have quick access to them myself. So in addition to printing them to paper, I also printed them as a PDF which I could read on my iPad using GoodReader. I also downloaded the PhotoGuide and most of the Carta books to the iPad so I could travel light with the very best geographical resources available.

With my iPad thus equipped, I can view each day's map while riding on the tour bus. If I want to read the Scripture references on the map, I can simply select and Copy from GoodReader, then switch to Accordance and paste the string of references into a search view. If I want to find out more about a site, I can look it up in the PhotoGuide or one of the Carta books. For example, I knew the ancient port of Acco was associated with Joan of Arc in some way, but I couldn't remember how. A quick lookup in the PhotoGuide reminded me that Crusaders renamed it Saint Jean d’Acre in honor of her, and the town was subsequently referred to as Acre.

As you can imagine, with Dr. J and other members of the Accordance staff on this tour, we're getting deeper into each site than I assume the average tour group does. Add to that the fact that our tour guide is a biblical scholar in his own right, and it's hard to keep up. With Accordance on my iPad, I'm managing to look a little more knowledgeable than I am! ;-)