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New high-def “Heart to Heart” website

Whew! It’s hard to believe it’s been more than a month since I posted my March 8 article on Heart to Heart. Sorry to be quiet for so long, but so much has happened:

SlideshowI’ve ported my new presentation of the Heart to Heart program to its own, standalone web site: Heart to Heart HD. Even though this new site remains a work-in-progress, early feedback suggests that people are finding it highly attractive, engaging, and useful. You can visit it by clicking here, or on the slideshow graphic to the right.

The actual web address is: hearttoheart.bahaiteaching.net


This site went live on March 19. Less than 24 hours later, the official web site of the US Baha’i National Spiritual Assembly featured this new site on its “multimedia resources” page, under “interactive”: www.bahai.us/news/multimedia-resources/.

A few days later, Stephen Scotti, webmaster for the Virginia Peninsula Baha’i cluster, figured out yet another way to make Heart to Heart sizzle on the web. You can see his beautiful implementation of the slideshow here.

For anyone just tuning in, Heart to Heart is a multimedia extravaganzaabout about the Baha’i Faith. You can read my original article about it here. It’s the work of Zabine Van Ness and Miles Lane. In its PDF form, this tour de force has gone around the world, eliciting heatfelt declarations of faith, drawing new students into study circles, turbo-charging Baha’i core activities, and doing all manner of other good things.

But neither its founders nor its fans (like me) have ever been satisfied with the way Heart to Heart comes across on the Internet. It’s so huge that the standard web interfaces don’t work. The Heart to Heart Online web site allowed one to browse it, but only awkwardly.

Lately I stumbled, quite unexpectedly, onto a new technique for linking to the pages in the PDF file. I posted an experimental prototype of this new interface here, on The Astonished Tamale! site.

Its developers and fans were pleased — but Heart to Heart is way too important to be a sub-page of someone’s personal blog. So I knew from the outset that it needed its own web site. Hence its new home.

My web site, Heart to Heart HD, is still in its early stage of development. I’m already at work on the Spanish version of the slideshow. There’s a Portuguese translation already done; the graphics are being combined with the text as we speak; so that should be uploaded in due course as well. We’d love to have it in every language known to humanity. Still in the dreaming stage are video tutorials about how best to make the most of this resource.

But back to Stephen Scotti: He’s a NASA engineer and a long-time fan of Heart to Heart. As chief designer for a cluster web site, he has carried, for some time, an embedded version of the slideshow on his “Explore the Baha’i Writings” page. The format followed the one developed originally by Miles Lane for the “official” site at hearttoheartpublications.com.

Miles’ format is brilliant: It shows the open page of Heart to Heart in a relatively large block on the left, with the 700-plus question outline of topics in a scrolling pane at the right. The official original, however, had one awkward limitation: Clicking a question in the outline didn’t automatically open the corresponding slide: You had to get the page number from the scrolling text, then type it into a box under the slide image.

Stephen’s breakthrough was in working out some hyperlinking tricks involving flash, javascript and other web magic. (When you’re dealing with rocket science, it’s good to know a real rocket scientist.) Point is, it works — and it works using the two-column overview layout intended by Miles.

Perhaps best of all, both these new versions of Heart to Heart (mine and Stephen’s) work on the iPad (and other Apple mobile devices). Until last month, no web version of Heart to Heart was iPad-compatible.

The fact that it now works on the iPad is the real reason I named my web site “Heart to Heart HD”. Several people have asked me what the “HD” means. Literally, of course, the letters stand for “high definition”. But more broadly, “HD” has become an Apple-speak buzzword signifying that something is iPad-friendly. Not only are these new flavors iPad-friendly — they work better (in my opinion) on iPad than on Windows.

Be that as it may, Zabine is enrolling a steady stream of new believers using Heart to Heart to facilitate spiritual conversations. She’s up to 12 this year alone. She’s hoping these new web implementations will help others mirror her own success.

So please check out the new web site and test-drive both flavors. Then use the comment box to let us know which one you prefer.

1 comment to New high-def “Heart to Heart” website

  • Dear Gary

    Thank you ever so much for such a wonderful job on making Heart to Heart available to many many friends. It is now truly easy to use and beautiful to look at.
    Technology is a gift from Baha’u’llah, but it is us who have to use it to share His claim.
    I want you to know Miles and I appreciate all of your hard work and dedication.

    Much much Bahai love

    Zabine Van Ness

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