Logos RefTagger

8 comments | Posted: 7 October 08 in Code, by Nathan Smith

A few weeks ago, I got an email from Dan Pritchett of Logos Bible Software about a tool they’ve developed called RefTagger. In a nutshell, it’s a lightweight piece of JavaScript that parses the content of a page and creates excerpt bubbles containing the referenced scripture and a link to bible.logos.com to read the complete passage. On the Logos blog, there are numerous articles on how to add RefTagger to your own site. There are instructions on using it with Blogger, Drupal, MediaWiki, Movable Type, phpBB and WordPress. Currently, over 2400 sites make use RefTagger.

What I found to be really helpful is that they provide a configuration tool, in order to build the script to your liking. You can custom tailor such settings as Bible version, additional commentary via the Libronix digital library, and whether or not RefTagger links open in a new window, to name a few. You can also opt to exempt certain tags from being targeted for enhancement. As you adjust the various options, you can see it change live in the code preview area. Likewise, you could also make the tweaks by hand, if you prefer.

One thing I was initially concerned about, from a JavaScript standpoint, was a potential for a negative impact on the speed of page rendering. With the script referenced in the <head> of a document, if the page was text heavy, it would take longer to parse its contents, looking for possible text matches to Bible references. Thankfully, Logos really gets it because they instruct users to insert a reference to their code before the close of the </body> tag. This allows the full page to load, after which the parsing can run its course. This results in maximum efficiency. It is also the method that Google Analytics recommends.

Another really cool thing about RefTagger is the ability to customize the look and feel to match that of your site’s design. Below is the default light yellow appearance, and an example of a custom bluish grey theme. As you can see, all aspects of the appearance are customizable, from colors to fonts.

RefTagger - Default

RefTagger - Custom

So, without belaboring the point, I hope that you will take some time to check out RefTagger, and see if it might be a good fit for your blog and/or site. Additionally, if you have any feedback to give to Logos on how they might improve RefTagger, then please feel free to voice that in the comments on this post.

Discuss This Topic

  1. 1 Michael Montgomery

    Thanks for the article.

    I tried the service, and it’s a good concept that works.

    Several great features: can override the default CSS, can customize the code (including selecting icons in light-on-dark or not), available WordPress plugin, long list of tutorials and FAQs.

    A note for users: it will not alter with a reference that is already a link, so be surprised.

    Questions abound, though, including: why inline styling by default? why only link to BibleGateway? why 1,100+ validation errors on their home page?

     
  2. 2 Michael Montgomery

    Edit: …why only link to bible.logos.com?

     
  3. 3 brandon

    ebible has a similar api for their app with a ton of options. I’ve implemented it on a few websites and it works well

     
  4. 4 Phil Gons

    Nathan, thanks for the nice mention of RefTagger. We’re excited that our RefTagger plugin is now available in the WordPress Plugin Directory (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/reftagger/).

    Michael, thanks for the great feedback. Logos is ultimately a company, so though we want to make a great free tool that anyone can use, we also want to use our efforts as a means of letting people know about Logos Bible Software. We also think that Bible.Logos.com is the best place to read and search the Bible online. (Yes, we might be a little biased.)

    Our website needs a refresh, and sometimes inline styling is the only way to get certain styles to work properly. The validation errors are mostly things like unencoded Unicode characters.

     
  5. 5 Michael Montgomery

    Congratulations on the WP Plugin Directory.

    we also want to use our efforts as a means of letting people know about Logos Bible Software.

    Understand completely about directing traffic to the company; no problem at all there.

    Our website needs a refresh, and sometimes inline styling is the only way to get certain styles to work properly.

    We all need a refresh sometime. Not sure what you mean about inline styling, but stating it that way is not accurate.

    The validation errors are mostly things like unencoded Unicode characters.

    Here’s the list.

     
  6. 6 Phil Gons

    Michael, just a quick clarification that when I said “sometimes inline styling is the only way to get certain styles to work properly,” I was not speaking absolutely but specifically with regard to the way our website currently works. Certain styles just don’t seem to work quite right when they are in our style sheet. I know it doesn’t make sense, but that’s been our experience. There’s probably a good explanation for the problem somewhere, and there’s definitely a better solution than inline styling, but we simply haven’t had the time for the major overhaul that fixing this would require. Hopefully before too much longer!

    BTW, the page is not XHTML 1.0 Transitional. It’s (closer to) HTML 4.01 Transitional. The result is 114 errors instead of 1658! :)

     
  7. 7 Michael Montgomery

    Ah, that makes some more sense.

    there’s definitely a better solution than inline styling

    Agreed.

    Oh, I only mentioned “XHTML 1.0 Transitional” because it’s being declared by your Doctype (first line in the source code).

     
  8. 8 Nathan Rambeck

    I saw that there was a Wordpress plugin for RefTagger, but nothing for Drupal, so I developed a Drupal module for RefTagger. If there is enough interest, I can add it as an official Drupal project.

    http://rambeck.com/blog/2008/10/reftagger-drupal-module

     

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