Brandon Staggs

0 comments | Posted: 7 November 05 in Interviews, by Nathan Smith

Recently, I had a chance to talk with Brandon Staggs, author of the acclaimed SwordSearcher Bible Software. At a friend’s recommendation, I have been using it for about two weeks and have found it to be amazingly intuitive and customizable. Always on the lookout for other Christian geeks, I emailed Brandon to let him know I liked it, and he agreed to do this interview.

Nathan:

Do you run Akamai Software full-time on your own, or do you have a programming staff? Please describe the vision behind the company.

Brandon:

I run Akamai Software with the assistance of my wife. I do all of the programming and marketing, and she does production work on the CD-ROMs and order fulfillment.

Our business vision is really just to provide useful software that we ourselves like to use. We focus primarily on Bible study tools – with SwordSearcher being our flagship product. We also have a program called Daily Bible and Prayer which is a devotional aid, which is currently undergoing a major revision.

Since I love the Bible and I love programming, it’s a great blessing to be able to produce and market Bible software!

Nathan:

Did you already have a background in Biblical linguistics when you set out to author SwordSearcher, or have you had to learn as you go? What is your favorite Bible translation / version?

Brandon:

I do not have any training in linguistics, and like most Christians, have not found a real need to study Greek or Hebrew. The tools in SwordSearcher are focused on helping average Christians with Bible study and do not require any understanding of Hebrew or Greek to use. I believe the King James Bible is a complete and accurate translation of God’s word into English.

Nathan:

I have used both BibleWorks and SwordSearcher. For the balance of features and price, I’d say that yours is a far better product: $50 vs. $300. I also love that SwordSearcher is not prone to constant freezing and crashing like BibleWorks is. How would you say it stacks up against the competition?

Brandon:

Honestly, I have very little knowledge of most of my competition’s products. I rely on feedback from my customers for ideas and refinement of features in SwordSearcher and haven’t used other Bible software very much. From the feedback I get from users, I do know that many of them are very familiar with other products and appreciate what SwordSearcher brings to the table at a very affordable price.

Nathan:

I share the same high opinion of SwordSearcher. For what I need during a typical day, SwordSearcher is great. Most of the time, I’m not digging through Greek and Hebrew, and just want a quick-loading program that I can use for searching or devotional reading. I do appreciate the fact that there are Greek and Hebrew pronounciation hints built-in. This seems like it could be immensely helpful if working on a sermon (I’m a bit rusty on my languages).

You’ve got SwordSearcher Mac slated for a 2006 release. How has programming in a Cocoa environment differed from Windows? Do you think that Apple switching over to a UNIX base will help enfranchise open-source programmers vs. Windows Vista, which is still proprietary?

Brandon:

Apple is not open-sourcing OSX and is aggressive about controlling their hardware and software. Even with their switch to Intel processors, they are designing their operating system to only function on the computers they manufacture. Without a lot of hacking, it won’t be possible to run OSX on a standard “Wintel” box. This is a shame, because a lot of people find OSX to be a great operating system and would like to use it if it wasn’t attached to Apple’s high-priced hardware.

Personally I like OSX, though I still regard Windows as a superior programming environment. Apple’s development tools are not as refined and advanced as what is available for Windows. This has slowed me down a bit on my development of SwordSearcher for OSX. I have done a good deal of development in Cocoa for SwordSearcher Mac, but am currently re-evaluating the development tools. Apple’s announcement of the Intel switch came after I invested in what is now basically obsolete for a development platform, which caused me to change my target release date while I deal with the switch. It’s not a severe problem, but it has slowed me down.

Nathan:

I sympathize with you there. It’s frustrating as a web designer to have to work with browser compatibility issues, so I would imagine that actual software programming would be even more difficult when your environment is constantly changing. But then again, having to adapt and refine our methods keeps us on our toes.

Would you share your testimony, and how you came to faith?

Brandon:

I became a Christian when I was young, 12 years old. I believe in salvation by faith alone and will spend eternity in heaven with God because of the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Nathan:

Amen to that! I don’t really have any other questions. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we close?

Brandon:

Thanks for the opportunity for this interview! Please let your readers know they can out try SwordSearcher for a month to see what they think of it. :-)

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