The Paratext 8 pre-release version is now available for download and installation from the download section of the new site. For now, the Paratext 8 website is located at http://pt8.paratext.org until the official release when it will be moved to http://paratext.org
It seems like we’ve been saying the pre-release version was just around the corner since early 2016. Why is it coming so much later than promised? Well, as it turns out, there are three major components, each of which could have been the subject of a major version update: Registration, Project Plan, and a new emphasis on user experience (UX) design. The fact that all three are being added in a single release makes me wonder if we should jump straight to version 10!
Registration now has two levels: user registration and project registration. User registration is open to all whereas project registration is only available to vetted users of approved Bible translation organizations. Registered projects can use the full functionality of Paratext, while unregistered projects have some limitations. We want to encourage project registration to enable better knowledge about the status of translation projects globally.
The Project Plan may be the most compelling reason to upgrade to Paratext. This is a team project management system that will guide the team through all the translation tasks from exegesis to final typesetting. Each member can see and act on the next assigned task for them. When completed, they check the task as complete for that chapter and the next task is served up to the next team member responsible for it. Paratext even automatically manages the editing permissions in lieu of the administrator, so that each person with an editing task is granted editing permission on that chapter for the duration of the task. As you might imagine, this was not an easy feature to implement, and was also waiting for the various organizations to come up with default project plans that modelled their translation process for the users. Those default plans are to be applied to a project, then customized for the specific parameters of that project.
Lastly, the development of Paratext 8 has been subjected to a new user experience (UX) design process. A UX team has been hired to design the user interface for all new features as well as redesigning some of the old. While much of the new UX design won’t appear until Paratext 8.1, the development team had to rework its whole process to incorporate the UX team. Now, every new feature will not be a developer’s best guess at how it should appear, but will be the result of extended observation of users as they perform unguided tasks. Microsoft does this for all their software development, and with close to 10,000 Paratext users worldwide, it is time we use similar processes. This investment will pay off with more productivity for users with less training required.
You can download the pre-release version today at http://pt8.paratext.org/download/prerelease. The site explains the qualifications to be a pre-release user and recommends you exercise caution when using it with real data. If you qualify, please help us test Paratext 8 and ensure a smooth transition for all users when the stable version is released.
You will need to register for a Paratext 8 registration code by going to http://registry.paratext.org and logging in with a Google account. (In many cases, that is also your organization email account.) Then enter your old code from Paratext 7, and select your organization. You will get a new code by email. When installing the resource texts, please note that the ones that are currently available are somewhat limited. More are being added all the time, so keep checking back under File | Install resources to see when new ones are added.