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News, How-tos, and assorted Views on Accordance Bible Software.

Thursday, February 02, 2006  

More on the New Bible Atlas

Way back in July of 1998, we released the Accordance Bible Atlas. More than just a collection of static maps, the Bible Atlas featured numerous map backgrounds, an extensive database of ancient sites, regions, and animated routes, and even a customizable user layer. The resolution of the Atlas was not what we had hoped it would be, but back then, inquiries into high-resolution altitude data of the Middle East tended to be met with suspicious questions or outrageous licensing fees. So we settled for 1-kilometer per pixel data and interpolated it to half a kilometer. While other developers were offering wireframe models of Israel, we used Apple's QuickDraw 3D technology to enable our users to explore 3D maps from Italy to Persia.

That was nearly eight years ago, and in that time I have yet to see another Bible Atlas even come close to ours. Now we're extending that lead with a major new upgrade to the Atlas.

The biggest improvement to the new Atlas is that it features ten times the resolution, with each pixel now representing 90 meters. This results in an incredible level of detail—especially as you zoom in close. My favorite example is Jerusalem. With the old Atlas, zooming all the way in on Jerusalem would result in a blotchy patchwork of pixels, making it impossible to distinguish the hill of David from the western ridge traditionally (and erroneously) known as Mount Zion. With the new Atlas, zooming all the way in results in a remarkable level of detail. In the image below, both ridges are clearly distinguishable, along with the Kidron, Hinnom, and Tyropoean valleys, as well as the Mount of Olives and the Mount of Offense.

    

As you can see, this dramatic improvement in resolution opens up a whole new level of insight into the Bible lands. It also makes the 3D maps that much cooler!

The original Atlas contained a database of more than a thousand sites, dozens of regions (with hundreds of subregions), and about seventy animated routes covering just about every Biblical journey and battle. Yet strangely, we would occasionally get feedback over the years that there weren't nearly enough of these sites, regions, and routes. We eventually realized that the problem was not that the information was not already there, but that our users weren't AWARE that it was there. To see each of these sites, regions, and routes in the appropriate menus, they need to be defined as a site, region, or route layer. When we shipped the original Atlas, we included predefined layers for the most obvious sites, regions, and routes, but we wrongly assumed that users wouldn't want to have to scroll past fifty Old Testament routes in order to select something like Paul's Second Missionary Journey.

This time around, we are including a new Map Settings file with all available layers already predefined. And although most of these layers were already available, those who hadn't yet discovered them will be blown away by the number of options available to them.

Another major improvement to the new Atlas is the addition of modern sites and nations, making it easy to locate Biblical events within the context of today's political boundaries.

Finally, the new Atlas adds two new background color schemes: Light Browns and Satellite. Light Browns looks like the mercator maps you often find published by National Geographic. The colors are subtle enough that they don't conflict with any superimposed region layers, yet striking enough to show a high degree of geographic detail.

Satellite is designed to mimic the appearance of the satellite photos which you now see on the web or in the back of the NET Bible notes, yet without every modern town or farm. It's darker than most other backgrounds, so you might want to set the font color for labels to yellow or white, but it gives a fairly realistic look.

All in all, the new Atlas is a major upgrade of an old favorite. After eight years, the Accordance Bible Atlas was still superior to anything else on the market. Now, with ten times the resolution, greater access to existing layers, and the addition of new backgrounds and modern boundaries, our new Atlas is even better.

Best of all, the new Atlas is just $89. Owners of the previous Atlas can upgrade for $39.





Comments:
I purchased the atlas a couple of month ago and you ask me to "buy" another one. Yes, I said "buy". $39 plus tax is not for an upgrade. You are ripping all faithful customers off.
 

We discounted the Atlas for the last several months, selling it at $49 instead of $69. The price of the new Atlas is $89 so you will actually save $1 compared to buying the new one now. This is not just an upgrade, almost the entire Atlas had to be done over, the programming, all the backgrounds, and much of the other data. And you do not have to upgrade, the old one will continue to work just fine.
 

I for one appreciate the way Accordance does business with their customers. They have always been very helpful and customer-service oriented. Getting ripped off is more like buying iWork '05 in mid-December only to find out less than a month later that a new version is out, and then contacting Apple with no price break on an upgrade. In reality, I didn't get ripped off. I got what I paid for - iWork '05. I may not like the way it worked out, but that's the way it goes. God is sovereign. I'm thankful for the incredible access we have to God's Word as a result of the hard work at Oak Tree. May Jesus Christ be praised!
 

Nicely said, Robb. And I'll second that point about fine customer service.
 

How do you get the areas around Jerusalem to show up on the map? I don't see the Kidron Valley or the other places that are showing up on your screenshot.
 

This is a new region layer called Geography of Jerusalem. It is only in the Atlas Version 2. If it does not show up as a region layer, see if you can make it a layer in Define Region Layers. If it is not available, download the upgrade to the Map Data from the website, but you will still need to define the layer.
 

"Another major improvement to the new Atlas is the addition of modern sites and nations, making it easy to locate Biblical events within the context of today's political boundaries."

Thank you...
 

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