BibleMap.org Interview

Today we have an interview with Tim Kimberley, one of the people behind BibleMap.org. BibleMap.org is an ESV/Google Maps mashup we previously wrote about in January. Keep up with the latest developments at the BibleMap.org Blog. Thanks to Tim for letting us interview him!

1. What’s the purpose of the BibleMap.org? Where did you get the idea for it?

The purpose of the site is to very simply connect every location in the Bible with Google maps. I was reading my Bible one morning and came across a location I had never heard of before. I grabbed one of my Bible atlases off the shelf and looked in the index and the location wasn’t in the index. I grabbed another atlas and the location wasn’t there either. I realized Bible atlases have publication requirements and aren’t able to be exhaustive. I began wondering if I could bring together a site which would be very simple yet powerful and exhaustive.

2. How long did it take you to create? What tools or processes did you use?

I have probably put about 200 hours into the project so far. I designed the site completely in Adobe Photoshop CS3. I wanted it to have a simple/clean look so I wanted to just focus on the looks before turning to implementation. The implementation of the site was done completely through Dreamweaver CS3. The guts of the site is PHP with a MySql database. I like PHP and MySql because it is so inexpensive to get up and running. A digital Bible was provided by the fine ESV folks and the Bible locations, images and descriptions were all donated or already open to use. The majority of the work was writing PHP code to hook up all the functionality of the site and then to generate all the files the site would use. When users are going through the site, they never touch the database; it’s all cached and generated files. I use AJAX to get all the data and use either included html files in some cases and JSON javascript files in other situations.

3. What’s some of the hidden functionality that the average visitor to your site might not come across?

Some of my favorite functionality which I always hope people see are all the photos and descriptions associated with locations. For example, if you select Acts 18 and then click on Athens there are many photos attached to Athens which show the area from the ground. The site currently has about 400 photos awaiting discovery.

4. What are your plans for the site in the future?

I am working to double the locations we currently have hooked up through the site. I have gained access to many more locations which will hopefully continue to get the site as exhaustive as possible. We are getting close to being as exhaustive as modern biblical research will allow. We are also working to greatly increase the photos associated with each location. We currently have about 400 photos in the site, yet we have over 6,000 photos at our disposal. So we are working to get the site saturated with these photos.

5. What do you do when you’re not working on the site? Who are you, anyway?

While not working on the site I am finishing up a Master of Theology (Th.M.) degree at Dallas Theological Seminary. I also design the Dallas Seminary website (www.dts.edu) and I also design and develop www.helives.com (new site coming online September 1st, 2007). My wife and I are involved with our local church and thoroughly enjoy our two little children.

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