An App for Every Diocese

I've been working on the Catholic Diocese App (for Android and iPhone) for the past year and a half, and it's my hope that every Catholic diocese or organization that wants an app can have one.

In fact, it's easy enough that even non-developers should be able to help dioceses get up and running on the app in just a few minutes, once they get the hang of the process! I've made this quick demonstration video of how you can customize the App to your diocese or organization's needs in about five minutes:

Basically, all that's involved is:

  1. Downloading the Zip archive of the Catholic Diocese App from GitHub.
  2. Replacing graphics like the App Icon, Default image, and news icon with your own.
  3. Changing a couple strings in Localizable.strings and another file.
  4. Building the app, then submitting it to the App Store.

Customizing the Android version of the app is similar, but requires Eclipse and the Android SDK instead of Xcode.

I publicly introduced the Catholic Diocese App during my App/Development Expo presentation at this year's CNMC Tech Summit, and I've already received some great feedback from other developers. If you have any questions, or would like to help make the App even better, please fork the project on GitHub, leave comments on this blog post, or contact me directly.

I really hope other people can benefit from the project:

  • Developers can help dioceses and organizations customize the app.*
  • Dioceses and organizations can have awesome apps!

*If you're a developer interested in being contacted by organizations to build the Catholic Diocese App for them, please leave your information in the comments below. I'm working on a way to let organizations see a listing of developers for the App.

More information about the Catholic Diocese App can be found at catholicdioceseapp.com.

Comments

Matt Doyle's picture

This is a great idea and a big step forward. You are to be congratulated. It is particularly helpful for (arch)dioceses that have tourist seasons. If I can muddle my way through the creation of one for my diocese, then I intend to try a second for Year of Faith. Thank you for this.

Drbrainfreeze's picture

Thanks for publishing this Jeff! I find the basic tweeking pretty easy, but I would be gratefull if you could link to some resources on how to work with SQlite, because the changes I do doesn't seem to have any affect on the app at all.

Jeff Geerling's picture

Please see my last comment on this page; I've added a video showing how to customize the ParishData.sqlite file.

Web developer from St. Louis, MO. Personal website: Life is a Prayer.

Jonathan L's picture

Would it be better to utilize an existing mobile app (and service) that plugs into a database which contains mass times across the country? This will give your users access to any parish that maintains its information on catholicweb.com and thecatholicdirectory.com database. Keeping information accurate in a national database sounds like an easier initiative for a diocese than maintaining your own app, dealing with the app store, and re-releasing the app every time a parish updates its mass times. (it appears that the catholic diocese app maintains a static database within the application itself).

See #5 in the link below:
http://cantuar.blogspot.com/2010/01/top-10-catholic-iphone-applications....

Snippet from the webpage:
5. Mass Times - Catholic Church Finder (free)
So you're traveling and you need to get to Mass. If you're like me, it's difficult to find Mass times on the web sites of local Catholic parishes (epecially if you're browsing these sites on your iPhone). If you also have this problem, you need the Mass Times app. By teaming up with CatholicWeb.com and TheCatholicDirectory.com database, Mass Times helps you find the closest parish along with Mass times (and Confession times).

Jeff Geerling's picture

It's all about synchronization and where the data is stored; basically, the canonical data should reside on the parish's own website. Failing that, a diocese should have the best information (or should pull in information from individual parishes).

Then, we need a central store of all the data pulled in from parishes and dioceses that updates once a week/month. From there, we can synchronize data to different services and subscribers.

It's great to have an app like Mass Times, but that model is not sustainable, and is not open enough to be used universally and is incredibly time-consuming/wasting. One organization tries aggregating ALL the information from ALL parishes, and while some apps/websites are doing this pretty well already, they are drowning in the maintenance of that data set, and don't have a free/open way of sharing data and synchronizing data between parishes, dioceses, and organizations.

See more about the Parish Info initiative here: http://www.opensourcecatholic.com/wiki/117/xml-format-parish-directo

Separately, when discussing the Catholic Diocese App, I tend to not focus on the fact that it has a data store for a particular diocese/organization, but rather on the fact that it gives a Catholic org a presence on the App Store. Also, the data can easily be synchronized via a diocesan website so the app has the latest data at all times. Finally, most Catholic Dioceses seem overprotective of their 'precious' parish data (for reasons I can't figure out), so the only sustainable model seems to me to be allowing a diocese control it's own app/presentation of that data.

This is not a dig at MassTimes.org, Catholic Parish Finder, etc. I have used those apps and think they're a good resource. Rather, it (the app) is a small part of a unified vision of a Church that starts sharing data more uniformly and easily, and having a presence on people's home screens :)

Web developer from St. Louis, MO. Personal website: Life is a Prayer.

Jeff Geerling's picture

I've also added a video on how to customize the ParishData.sqlite file for your organization: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxEIrjEU0_c

Web developer from St. Louis, MO. Personal website: Life is a Prayer.

Jimmy's picture

Excellent tool that help all catholic organizations to develop and implement apps for smartphone users. The most important thing here is even a person without any knowledge of programming can develop app for their catholic organization.