Bloom (and FLEX) for MAC?

Hiya, I use Bloom and FLEX (used to use toolbox as well), and am now a Mac user, but I have trouble running PC programs on my mac, so have a separate computer just for Bloom and FLEX. I see on different forums that many people are also Mac users, and I was wondering if you guys would be interested in collaboration to get some Mac programs happening? I have had huge success in the past collaborating with RHoK (Random Hacks of Kindness). They have hackathons twice a year (in Melbourne at least) where people with tech skills donate their time to get projects happening. It could be quite a good fit?

Hi Katrina,

Thanks for writing! I’m sorry you have to have a separate computer to run Bloom and FLEx. Alternatively, you could use one of the Virtual Machine methods that allow you to run Windows or Linux programs on your mac. I regret that we do not have the staff required to provide support on how to set up a mac in that way.

While we’d love to provide a mac version, it’s going to be a big job. Far bigger than could be done in a couple weeks, even by the core Bloom team, who know the program intimately. The problem is that Bloom uses some user interface components (winforms) which are not available on Mac. That isn’t something that can be hacked around. At this point, I think the best way for an organization to help with this project would be to fund a developer for something from 2-6 months, during which they would replace any use of winforms with html.

One thing a hackathon could conceivably do is to ease the process of setting up your mac to run Bloom and FLEx Linux versions, via a virtual machine. That is, I can imagine some program that does everything needed including downloading, configuring, and installing, such that at then end you have an icon on your desktop named “Bloom” or “FLEx” which runs the virtual machine and the program.

By the way, we have another project, the “Bloom Reader”, which is very well suited to hackathon-type collaborations. This is an Android app that will act like Kindle does on your phone/tablet, so that you can see all the books available in your language and download them to your device, or share them with others, phone-to-phone. The github repository is here.

John Hatton
Bloom UX Designer and Program Manager

Hi John,

Apologies for the delay getting back to you. I wanted to sit down and answer properly, and time has gotten away from me!

Ok, starting with the boom/FLEx mac question-

Thanks for outlining what the issues are for me. I find it hard sometimes as a non-programmer to know whether something is a one week or one year job! I obviously can’t help with the programming side of things, but I certainly can help get some movement happening re funding. Looking at the Bloom and FLEx threads, I think there are enough people around using macs that we might have some success with fundraising from linguists. I see that SIL has a donations page and there is ‘language software’ as an option in the drop down menu. Could we add another option ‘FLEx and Bloom for Mac’ so it can be specific fundraising? Another few things

  • Do all of the SIL programmers work together? It seems from the website that Neil Mayhew is the main contact for FLEx, would you be able to bring him in on this conversation?

  • If we can have a fundraising target and an endpoint that would help for the fundraising, i.e we need $50,000 to fund a developer for 6 months full time to get a version of FLEx and Bloom available for mac by the end of 2017- or something like this. Once we have the details etc set, I’ll start getting the word out and hassling people to make donations [:blush:]

  • Local Linguist

I also wanted to share with you an app that we have a very early MVP for, called Local Linguist.

I help out with the mother tongue program in Timor-Leste (Jim and Karla Smith are the SIL people working there, and Chuck Grimes is also heavily involved).

One of the biggest problems we have come up against is translations which retain too much of the structure of the first language / literal / word for word translations, which is leading to mother tongue resources that make no sense and/or need to be heavily edited. I came up with the idea of local linguist, which uses the record function on a mobile phone to handle these translations orally rather than them being written, as it will be MUCH harder for speakers to use ungrammatical structures in their own language if they are speaking, not writing. There is a website (written using ruby on rails) and an android app which talk to eachother. You input any or all of picture/text/recording in the website to create a new set on the website, which then updates on the android phone app. The researcher in country then uses their phone to get responses (you set what response you want- either recording, text, or drop down selection) and once the data collection for the set is finished, they press upload, which sends the data back to the website.

Just this week we got the app and website talking to eachother, and I successfully created a set on the website, collected the data using the phone, and viewed the results on the website.

there is still a fair few things to tweak before we spread the word more widely, but please have a look and any suggestions you have are more than welcome.

Back end website:

apk available here:

The website will change quite a lot, it is not very intuitive to use yet, but you can see and create new sets using the ‘studies’ tab, and then see (listen to etc) the uploaded results in the ‘recordings’ section. Everything created in the website to date is in the ‘phrases’ section.

The first part of the app collects info about the speaker being recorded. Once this is completed, the researcher will be able to choose to interview the same speaker or a different speaker for the set they are collecting data for. The app is currently based around Timor-Leste, and includes all regions, sub districts, villages and languages of Timor in the app. There would need to be additional work done to add new countries to the app, I’m thinking Indonesia is a logical next step when we get to that point.

Please feel free to create your own sets to test, just label them with your name so we can keep track of everything easily.


  • Great ideas re the hackathon things. Once local linguist is running properly, I’m happy to take these ideas to a hackathon, or I know RHoK runs worldwide if someone else wanted to take these to a hackathon before I get a chance.

Well, I think that’s enough from me at the moment! Thanks for getting back to me [:blush:]



Hi Katrina,

Do all of the SIL programmers work together?

We work together, but we are physically we’re spread around the world.

I’ll contact you about the fundraising ideas via email.

Thanks for telling us about “Local Linguist”!