File Formats

From CrossWire Bible Society
Revision as of 01:06, 4 September 2007 by Osk (talk | contribs) (File Formats: - updates (part 1))

Jump to: navigation, search

The SWORD Project respects copyright, and other Intellectual property Rights. As such, conversion of material that is under copyright is not supported by The SWORD Project.

This page merely lists some of the more common file formats, and Bible Study Programs, and why conversion of their resources (if applicable) is discouraged.

EULA is the abbreviation for End User License Agreement. This is the agreement that governs the terms and conditions of using a product. As such, it is enforcible, in the United States, under contract law.

File Formats

Bible Study programs use a plethora of file formats. Even more have been suggested for use in creating Bibles, and other religious material. This subsection merely lists some of the most common of those formats.


General Bible Format

This file format is intended as an aid to preparing Bible Texts for use with various Bible search programs. The complete specification is at

This file format is used for creating some resources for The SWORD Project.


Hyper Text Markup Language

This is the basic language of the World Wide Web. Some Bible programs use it for their resources.


Liturgical Markup Language

The home page for this markup language is This is described at and

This is a descendant of, and complement to ThML. An additional influence is HTML 4.0.

The markup reflects its orientation towards liturgy and hymns.


Open Scripture Information Standard

The Open Scripture Information Standard (OSIS) is "a common format for many visions." It is an XML format for marking up scripture and related text, part of an initiative composed of translators, publishers, scholars, software manufacturers, and technical experts, coordinated by the Bible Technologies Group. It is co-sponsored by the American Bible Society and the Society of Biblical Literature.

The most recent XML schema is OSIS 2.1.1, and a manual is also available.

This markup format is recommended by the CrossWire Bible Society and can be used for creating all types of resources for The SWORD Project. Support for OSIS is actively maintained and support for any unsupported elements or features needed for a module you may be working on may be requested.


Portable Document Format

This is an ISO track file format for platform independent rendering of documents. It is derived from Postscript and is maintained by Adobe. Documents may be text, images, or scanned images of text. Even textual documents cannot reasonably be expected to allow plain-text export. As such, it is designed to be a "read only" format.


Rich Text Format

This is a markup format designed by Microsoft. It is used as the markup language for presentation The SWORD Project for Windows. It is also the internal markup format used within STEP books (see below). The format is of limited use as an archival format and there are no plans for Sword to support it beyond its current use for presentation.


Standard Template for Electronic Publishing

This file format was formerly used by QuickVerse and WordSearch, and is currently used for some e-Sword books.

While not an open standard, the publicly released documentation and specifications for this format can be found mirrored at Some utilities for working with this format are listed below. It is unlikely that the SWORD Project will support this format in the future as it is laregly dead.


Theological Markup Language

This format is a variant of XML based on TEI and ThML, developed by and for the Christian Classics Etherial Library. The specifications for this markup format are available at

This markup format in some Sword resources, but only the creation of free-form "General book" modules based on existing CCEL resources is currently supported. Other works and new works should be created using the OSIS format.


Unified Standard Format Markers

This plain-text format is a common internal-use format within Bible translation agencies and Bible societies. It is the native format of Paratext. The rudimentary utility may be used to convert Zefania XML to OSIS for import to Sword's native format.


Unified Scripture Format XML

This XML file format is designed to provide clean conversions from Scripture to USFM compliant file formats. A more comprehensive description can be found at There is no widespread use of this format and there are no plans for Sword to support it in any way.


XML Scripture Encoding Model

This XML format was proposed by SIL. A comprehensive description of the markup language can be found at

The formal specifications can be found at

The designers of this markup language were instrumental in the writing of the OSIS Specification and it has largely been deprecated in favor of using OSIS. There is no widespread use of this format and there are no plans for Sword to support it in any way.


eXtensible Markup Language

This is generic family of markup formats. Links to a number of XML specifications can be found at Each flavor has its own specifications. Sword supports markup in the XML formats OSIS and ThML internally

Zefania XML

This is the native file format of Zefania XML-based Bible study tools such as MyBible and BibleWorkPlace. The utility may be used to convert Zefania XML to OSIS for import to Sword's native format.

Utility Programs

Unless otherwise specified, the utility programs listed in this section do not work with file formats used by The SWORD Project.

GBF Tools

The SWORD Project

  • cipherraw - used to encipher Sword modules
  • diatheke - a basic CLI Sword frontend
  • imp2gbs - imports free-form General books in IMP format to Sword format
  • imp2ld - imports lexicons, dictionaries, and daily devotionals in IMP format to Sword format
  • imp2vs - imports Bibles and commentaries in IMP format to Sword format
  • mkfstmod - creates a search index for a module
  • mod2imp - creates an IMP file from an installed module
  • mod2osis - creates an OSIS file from an installed module
  • mod2zmod - creates a compressed module from an installed module
  • osis2mod - imports Bibles and commentaries in OSIS format to Sword format
  • vpl2mod - imports Bibles and commentaries in Verse-Per-Line format to Sword format
  • vs2osisref - returns the osisRef of a given (text form) verse reference
  • xml2gbs - imports free-form General books in OSIS or ThML format to Sword format

STEP Utilities

  • step2vpl - export a STEP book in Verse-Per-Line (VPL) format
  • stepdump - dumps the contents of a STEP book
  • step2rtf - extracts the internal RTF text from STEP books
  • stepr - a rudimentary STEP reader

ThML Utilities

  • cceldesktop.

Zefania Utilities

Link title