Open English Translation (OET)
Bible Drop Box
USFM 3 Bibles
USFM 2 Bibles
MDF Dictionary Drop Box
Bible Organisational System
Music and songs
Note: This page is in progress to document the forthcoming design of ESFM which will be based on USFM 3 released in April 2018.
Enhanced Standard Format Marker (ESFM) Bibles use an extension of the better known USFM 3.0 (Unified Standard Format Marker) format. ESFM Bibles are usually created by a program such as our own Biblelator, or by a future version of Paratext, Bibledit, or even Toolbox or (horrors!) a text editor or word processor (cringe!). They consist of one file per book encoded in UTF-8 Unicode and with a .esfm filename extension. They only contain the Bible text and a few extras like book titles and introductions, but a lot of other necessary information (metadata) is not defined or included in the USFM or ESFM format, thus they do not provide enough data for typesetting from directly.
First let me answer the question: why not XML? Part of the whole philosophy of this whole suite of programs (Bible Organisational System (BOS), Biblelator translation editor, Android BibleDoor app, etc.) is to create Bible software that is hackable. In order to do this, it must be relatively readable. I don't find XML easy to scan or read, and it's very difficult to manually extract information out of and not necessarily easy for a program to be certain to extract all information out of. Besides that, if you want an XML Bible format, there's already the complex OSIS and the more recent USX.
So ESFM is more user/hacker friendly than XML Bible file formats, but it's also more rigid than USFM in many ways, e.g., insisting on UTF-8 encoding, .esfm file extension, etc. It also extends USFM 3.0 to define some extended features and better ease in encoding internal and external links.
ESFM files will be loadable by USFM 3 Bible editors (e.g., recent versions of UBS/SIL Paratext) which will simply treat the extra fields as text. A script is also available to convert ESFM to plain text USFM.
The file (which must be encoded in UTF-8) starts with the following three lines:
\id JON - Open English Translation—Literal Version (OET-LV) v0.2.03
id line contains 3-character Paratext book code followed by
optional text and ending with the book version number
ide must contain only UTF-8
\rem ESFM v0.5 BBB
rem (remark/comment) line contains the letters ESFM,
the ESFM format version number (currently at v0.5)
and the three-character BOS book code.
If any of the above are missing, it may not be detected as an ESFM file. These lines are designed to allow Paratext and Bibledit compatibility, yet can be detected by our Biblelator and other software.
The following are the restrictions over USFM 3.0:
USFM 3.0 special characters are supported, plus some extras:
In addition to the non-deprecated USFM 3.0 newline markers, the following are defined:
In addition to the non-deprecated USFM 3.0 internal markers, the following are defined:
Paratext provides some additional information in a .ssf file, and this information can be used by the Bible Drop Box if included. However, even with the SSF file, ESFM Bibles don't yet specify things like which order to include the books (believe it or not, not all Christian traditions put Bible books in the same order), nor does it carefully define the short names of the books or the book abbreviations which will be used in section references and cross-references, etc. For this reason, the Bible Drop Box tries to make some intelligent guesses as to how to best format your data. In the future, we hope to find an easy way for you to specify some of this additional information. (Suggestions happily accepted.)
Depending on how the files were formed and what checks have been made on them, ESFM Bible files can easily contain MANY errors, e.g., fields like \v 7And Jesus said... (missing space after the verse number) or a cross-reference like Maat 3:7 (instead of Mat) or missing ESFM closing markers such as in Jesus said, \wj"Go." (missing \wj* and failure to use proper “quotation” characters). The Bible Drop Box software attempts to find and inform you of such errors and inconsistencies, at the same time trying to guess how to best handle them without just giving up. This may or may not be successful. (Your mileage may vary.) Of course, you will have the best result if you take the time to fix the issues in your files.
The Bible files (which must all have the .esfm file extension) should be combined into a zip archive (which must have the .zip file extension). Take careful note of which folder you are creating your zip file in, because you will need that information in order to submit the file.