Bahá'í Library Online
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Some structural or systemic improvements necessary for future Bahá'í Library expansion. Planning began in 2013, a redevelopment team was convened in 2021 and funded in 2023, and the project "reset" in 2024.

Proposed Changes for Version 5

by Jonah Winters


2024 July

  • Project fork:

    After four months of thought and programming, I'm "closing the books" on the eleven-year planning for Version 5 (2013-2024), considering my interim codeset at .org as being "5.0 beta", and am starting planning afresh with Version 6.

  • Near-term plans: I will continue refining and expanding the 5 code through August, at which point it will be ready to transition to, replacing the April 30 HTML archive. By September 2024 I will have replaced all functions from the last iteration of Version 4.6.

    After 5 is mature enough to replace the production site, we will hire a programmer to review and recreate my own code, but with professional syntax, which will be 6 and probably late 2025.

2024 June
  • The new, interim code is fully functional now. Basic, but complete. RSS feed just re-enabled.
  • Have finally completed the database import started in 2003, with Version 2.0, 21 years ago; only a few dozen items remained out of that initial 2,500 that were copy-and-pasted from HTML to MySQL in 2003, mostly more complex multi-chapter ones like books. (I only did not migrate the HTML files in /writings/, as that directory consists of 7,100 files and tens of thousands of interlinks, which can't be recreated via the databased content.)
  • Have finally created a proper Tags backend, including standardizing, correcting, and collating six separate datasets that have been growing separately since 2012: Tags and Locations for each of Catalog, Chronology, and Chronology Canada. This will allow for improved Tags functionality and expansion, including separating sub-categories such as Locations, People, and Writings.
  • Tags front-end and editing development. On the back-end, migrating the Tags data meant sorting 8,000 tags from 6 datasets, collating, standardizing, adding metadata for each, and then converting them into a relational table for each of the 13,000 items in the three collections.
2024 May
  • We have begun developing a basic LAMP site on the new VPS.
2024 April:
  • We have completed the migration to a new server. The legacy server, which we'd been running for 21 years (wow, time flies!), can't be maintained due to an outdated operating system and even older PHP. Rather than upgrade to a new dedicated server with the same datacenter, we've switched to a Virtual Private Server elsewhere.
  • The redevelopment project is paused. The Bahá'í Library Online is archived at An interim site, where new content will appear, is at (and freshly archived under that domain at
2024 March:
  • The migration to AWS seems to have been abandoned. Initial deadlines for Phases 1-2 passed a year ago; the final deadline EOL and end-of-lease Jan. 31; my ancient code can't be exported.
  • Our host confirms that we can continue operating it through April.
  • Pending a rewrite of the code to migrate to a newer server, the website has been crawled and preserved as HTML (not "live" from a database) at the domain The interim live site is at
  • We'll set up a new programming team once this migration is complete.
2024 January:
  • Programming is again underway, and it will be completed within days
  • We are now a registered non-profit organization in the state of New York under the name “Twenty-seven Letters Foundation, Inc.,” and have a new website at
  • The foundation's board is comprised of: Jonah Winters, president; J. Michael Kafes, secretary; Alexander Meinhard, treasurer.
  • We have an "EIN" and tax-exempt status from the IRS and can now issue tax-deductible receipts.
  • We have a new bank account at Chase in Buffalo NY for “Twenty-seven Letters Foundation, Inc." and can now accept donations. Checks can be mailed to the following address:
      Twenty-seven Letters
      c/o Jonah Winters
      12 Tasker Street
      St. Catharines, ON, L2R 3Z8
2023 November: Just confirmed that our application is still in process with NY. Programming has paused, but the hosting company confirms we can keep the current server online past January 2024, its end-of-life and the end of our lease; keeping fingers crossed!

2023 October: After resubmissions due to bureaucratic issues, our 501c3 application is being processed by the state of New York! As soon as that's done, we can pursue funding and complete the final migration; our (now-November) deadline will be met!

2023 July: The 501(c)(3) application is being processed this month and the programming renewed; we're now planning the final steps of the migration.

2023 May: We have filed incorporation papers for our non-profit! Continuing development on Version 5 is on hold at the moment, but an initial migration of all content to AWS is done and so we are again able to post updates and additions (though still using the legacy server); it can all be done by November.

2023 April: After various delays, the site files and index pages, current to 2/23, are now functional in the cloud! Temporary URL:

2023 March: Our initial site migration to AWS is taking longer than anticipated, due to the sheer size of the Library (est. 79,000 distinct files, 141,000 internal links, an outdated database, and archaic code). But seems to be almost done! We have a new Patreon membership page to help support this extensive effort, which cannot be done without paid labor.

2023 March: Incorporating a 501(c)(3) non-profit is in process and should be done by May.

2023 March: Set up and

2023 February: The redevelopment is proceeding well, and we have issued our first-ever call for donations to pay for the programmer's work.

2023 overview: Here is our roadmap for this year.

  • Phase 1 is migrating the entire site from a dedicated server to AWS cloud hosting, and coding a wholly new, original backend, and writing specs for a future API — time estimate 6-8 weeks, completion date March, and shut-down of the legacy server by April.
  • Phase 2 is creating the API, which will allow the new backend to interface with new and future front-ends — time estimate 1-2 weeks, completion date March.
  • Phase 3 is creating new front-end interfaces, starting with mobile — target date autumn, aiming for November at the latest.
  • Phase 4 is adding the much-needed new features to bring the site up to current Library Science standards — time estimate unknown, but this phase should be well underway by December 2023.
  • Phase 5 is data entry, specifically adding tags and other metadata — time estimate two years, target date spring 2025.
2023 January: Ismael has just alerted me that he has an unexpected but brief 5-week window in which to do the redevelopment. I am getting ready to start a fundraising effort to raise the funds that will be needed to accomplish this. So the redevelopment has begun in earnest; the new Version 5 (beta) will be online by March.

2022 May: Behind-the-scenes changes have been coming along steadily; see Bahá'í Library Online at 25.

2021 September: Initial programming has begun! Updates will be posted when I receive them.

2021 August: Progress has begun on coordinating a team of programmers to build Version 5, led by software engineer Ismael Velasco, and initial payments made to the team in Mexico.

2021 March: Version 5 initial development and planning has begun.

2013-2020: research and gradual planning for the future wholesale re-creation of a brand-new codebase.

Every few years the Library grows enough to warrant a sub-version number. Once every 5-10 years the Library evolves enough to require a whole new version; see past versions. This document will track proposed changes to Version 5, circa 2021-2023. It will not include all requested changes, as there are too many to possibly consider; see all those in Brett's and my To-Do list. Rather, this document will list changes that are more feasible or more necessary.

Some planned changes:
  1. Mobile interface
  2. From-scratch rewrite of desktop interface
  3. Unified database, e.g. and
  4. Authority control for authors:, which would also solve the problem of multiple spellings, e.g. "Masumian" and "Ma'sumian", name changes, and items with many authors
  5. Edit/version history
  6. Licenses and permissions. Separate editor/publisher. Change "open copyright". See
  7. Make public metadata search options, e.g. search Abstract or Parent or Publisher, plus full-catalogue output
  8. Tag table / master subject index
  9. Native push notifications
  10. EndNote and Marc export
  11. Crowdsourcing-capable multi-editor system with versioning and rollback functions, à la Wikipedia
  12. Incorporate diversity awareness, e.g. disclaimers on certain documents with now-outdated racial or non-inclusive terms
  13. Document-submission portal, scanned with VirusTotal, allowing for receiving, categorizing, vetting, editing, tagging
  14. Ensuring accessibility, e.g. for blind users
Design proposals:
  1. Logo, fonts, and colors concept art: zein_logo_design_concept_2022.pdf
Mistakes and other to-do:
  • multiple-authorship issues, e.g. Cole and UHJ
  • check "published as" fields
  • loss of initial punctuation in titles in Editing window
  • deal with redirects, e.g. (should be khanum_passing_shoghi-effendi)
  • move "ed." from volume field to new "editor" field for books
  • deal with surname fields e.g. "van den" / "Hoonaard"
  • Begin archiving regional newsletters, including sending requests to the Institutions
  • Title search issues: how search for a title that has embedded HTML (italics, ampersands, m-dashes)?
  • Make other language documents more prominent
  • Combined searches, e.g. search for Tags "Philosophy + Free will", or search Author + Date
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