Review: RefTagger vs. VerseClick

For novice bloggers and advanced web programmers, there are two good tools available to automatically create a pop-up showing the text of Bible verses referenced on your site, as in: Rom 1:20. One is RefTagger from Logos Bible Software. The other is VerseClick, recently made available at AV1611.com.  If you are interested in using a tool like this, here are some things to consider.

UPDATE: after writing this review, I learned of the BLB ScriptTagger from the Blue Letter Bible website.  It is well worth considering along with the two mentioned here.

RefTagger

Highly customizable: If you know some basic web concepts like CSS, you can match the styles in the pop-up window to your own site theme.  There is an optional toolbox to allow visitors to choose their preferred translation or web developers can choose the default version using the simple setup form.  There are many other options shown on the RefTagger website.

Works with most syntax: There are all kinds of ways to reference Bible verses, making it difficult for a computer to properly recognize them. RefTagger works with most common syntax and it also works with some developing web standards such as BibleRef markup.

Integrates with Logos Software: Next to each verse link, you’ll see an icon that takes the user to that verse within Logos Bible Software, provided the user has this software on their computer.  To me, this is an unnecessary distraction.  Few users are likely to want this feature and it adds a button that gets in the way of the normal flow of reading.  It undermines the very purpose of the tool: to provide a seamless way to look up verses referenced without distracting the reader with a quote box or going to another resource in the middle of a paragraph.  UPDATE: I am told that this feature is optional (see comments), but it is enabled by default and may be difficult for the average blogger to disable.

Performance and Simplicity: It is quite simple to install this tool on any site.  Just pick a few options and paste a line of code in the appropriate place.  Unfortunately, its host of options slows down page loading.  While it performs adequately in most cases, it could be much better in my opinion.

VerseClick

Not customizable: Perhaps later versions will allow for some options regarding colors and fonts, but right now you’re stuck with a brownish-yellow background on the pop-ups.  That said, the lack of custom parameters makes VerseClick perform much better in general than RefTagger (based on my experience – I don’t have the resources to do scientific benchmarking). Furthermore, it does not advance the proliferation of corrupt Bible versions so overall I view this as a “plus.”

Works with most syntax: Like RefTagger, most reference methods are supported.  It doesn’t recognize BibleRef markup, which is how RefTagger recognizes whole-chapter tags.  VerseClick takes you to the whole chapter when a verse is clicked and since both tools limit pop-ups to just a few verses, this becomes a moot point.

Performance and Simplicity: As mentioned, I have found VerseClick to perform better overall than RefTagger.  It is just as simple to install and use: one line of code to cut-and-paste.

If you aren’t using either of these on your Christian website, I highly recommend adding this functionality for your visitors.  It puts Scripture at their fingertips within whatever point the author is making.  I use VerseClick for its use of only the time-tested KJV which ensures the verse shown is an accurate and complete translation, as well as for its superior download performance and absence of the distracting Logos button.  The color styles of VerseClick happen to match the ones used on SoulLiberty.com, but if you find the yellow clashes with your design, I’d recommend e-mailing the creator to request the option to customize the CSS.

  • Thanks for the review… Just so you know, you can easily customize RefTagger, including turning off the link to Logos Bible Software. It’s pretty flexible.

  • How would people go about doing this if they wanted to?

  • Only VerseClick works remotely well with touch devices like iPad, Android, iPhone, etc. It is the only one that makes the verse pop up in the same window. However it still has no way to dismiss window unless another verse is tapped. Who will properly reach this growing number of users first?

    RefTagger has the larger repertoire of book abbreviations (eg Dn instead of Dan)

  • Brandon Staggs

    Thanks for reviewing VerseClick. I know this was years ago, but I wanted to point out that I have added the requested CSS styling to VerseClick. The verse links and popups can be heavily customized with three CSS classes.

    • Good to know. I ended up using RefTagger when I moved over to WordPress (they had an easy plugin) but I may look into switching back to VerseClick.

      • Brandon Staggs

        A WordPress plugin is on my to-do list, though it’s easy to add it with a text widget. You can even add the styles that way. But the widget would probably be a lot easier for people unfamiliar with HTML design.