USCCB’s online version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

“Providing the Catechism in this particular electronic format will make this foundational resource even more accessible to people,” explained Bishop John Wester, chair of the USCCB Communications Committee. “It is free to anyone who has access to the Internet.”

Available through any Internet browser, the Catechism file displays and functions as an e-book. Users can bookmark or highlight areas, see footnotes in a “light box” without leaving the original page, and search within the Catechism, including by paragraph number.

…“The USCCB is wisely using technology to serve their constituents and they are raising the bar for engaging users,” said Dave Gallerizzo, CEO of Fig Leaf Software, the interactive Web agency that partnered with the USCCB to create the e-book. “There might be some e-book readers that have a few of these features, but I doubt you can find one that offers all of these features in a single application.”

OSV reported on this as Catechism now available in free e-book format which is not quite accurate since the actual ebook version in ePub format is $9.95. and they call it the “E-Catechism of the Catholic Church”, which is rather lame.

The online version is actually pretty good with a solid search and quick access to the index throughout. Judging from the url of the site they are using a viewer that translats the epub format for the browser. The epub format is actually a zipped file that contains html, css, images, etc. The functionally they mention of bookmarking and highlighting seems to be missing. I could find no way to do so and I tried it in a couple of browsers. You couldn’t even do a regular bookmark of a section since the url never changes as you navigate. The same goes for the footnotes which have links at the bottom of each section and simply link to the specific footnote using normal html navigation. Maybe I totally missed out how to do this?

For years the St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church site has had an online catechism with search and has been quite useful. The USCCB online version of the Catechism is I think a more effective implementation and more usable. If they actually implement the features they say they listed it will be quite excellent, until then it is the best way to read the CCC online.

Update: Jeff Geerling also post on this and finds the usability on a mobile device to be rather poor. I had only looked at it on the iPad myself and of course on it’s screen size there is no problem. This is definitely a rather serious oversight and I recommend that you read what Jeff has to say.

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