Hey all, a few of you might remember me. It’s Tevya, the previous owner and creator of Mormon Life Hacker. I’ve been working on a small WordPress project and John was kind enough to let me tell you all about it here. It’s a free plugin to link all scripture references on your WordPress blog to the ChurchofJesusChrist.org scripture library, automatically.
A Problem Solved by a WordPress Plugin
In the early days of my first WordPress blog, SacredSymbolic (before MLH was created) I was looking for a way to easily link scripture references to the online edition of the scriptures. I found a great plugin called “LDS Linker.” It did just what I wanted: changed any scripture references that matched standard formatting such as Moroni 10:3–5, into links to that passage on scriptures.lds.org. I installed it right away, and have been using it there for around a decade now.
A year or three after finding the plugin, I started MLH. The LDS Linker plugin was one of the first plugins I installed on the first version of MLH. It’s been providing linked scripture references to all of you for many years now. In fact, you’ll notice that my reference to a passage in Moroni in the previous paragraph is linked. But I didn’t link it, it’s just automatically done by the plugin!
Problems with LDS Linker
One day some years back, I was contacted by another prominent LDS blogger about SacredSymbolic. He said in effect, “your site is displaying these strange errors above the content”. I checked, and found it was true. After some testing, I figured out two things:
- The LDS Linker plugin wasn’t fully compatible with the latest versions of PHP and WordPress.
- The errors were only being shown when debugging was turned on.
If you turned debugging off (which you should do unless testing), then the errors didn’t show. So they weren’t critical errors and the plugin still functioned, technically. But it was clear its time was limited. It was not working at peak performance, and was potentially one more deprecated function, or one change to LDS.org, away from breaking completely. I looked for alternatives, but the only other plugin like it was equally outdated and lacking support.
Contacting the Developer
So I tried leaving a message on the support forums, but Joey, the plugin’s developer was not responding. I searched around trying to figure out how to contact him and learned that he’d since left our Church and joined another. Assuming he was no longer interested in the plugin, I reached out through a few channels and asked if he’d turn it over to me to get it fixed and continue its development. I was eventually able to get in touch with him on Twitter. He graciously turned it over to me without hesitation.
Now I’m not a PHP developer myself, so I couldn’t just jump in and fix it myself. Plus I was busy growing my WordPress support and maintenance business, WordXpress. I ended up having to delay fixing the plugin for some time.
Revived as Latter-day Linker
Just recently I realized that I could justify paying a developer to fix it for some of our clients like LeadingSaints, plus as a marketing tool to get some exposure for WordXpress. After that realization I needed a smaller project to test out a new developer that I was looking at working with named Hiren. I gave him access to LDS Linker and told him what I needed done. He quickly got everything fixed, updating or replacing all the deprecated WordPress and PHP functions that the plugin was trying to use. He also changed the links structure from the old lds.org to the Church’s new URL and fixed it for changes in the path to each book of scripture.
Working together we also renamed the plugin to “Latter-day Linker,” plus made sure it worked properly with the new Block Editor (aka Gutenberg) and added an icon and banner image to make it look more current.
How to Use Latter-day Linker
It’s pretty easy to get the plugin setup. In the WordPress Admin area, just go to Plugins > Add New. Then search “Latter-day Linker”. When you see it in the results, click the “Install Now” button then the “Activate” button that replaces it. If you’re already using LDS Linker, just use the WordPress updater to update it and it’ll update to Latter-day Linker with all the fixes.
Now just include scripture references in your posts, such as: “1 Nephi 3:7” or you can use the standard abbreviations such as “1 Ne. 3:15”. That’s all that you have to do to get your scripture references linked! But there are two settings you can change to suit your needs. Just go to Settings > Latter-day Linker where you’ll find options for:
- Open scripture passage links in a new window. If you check that box, it’ll keep your site/blog open in its tab, while opening the scripture passage in a new tab. That way your users just have to close the tab to go back to your post.
- Linkify Holy Bible references. You may want to uncheck this, if you’re using another plugin to link Bible references to somewhere other than ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
In the future we may add additional options. We also hope people using the plugin will send us ideas for features they’d like to see.
If you blog on WordPress, and get tried of having to add links to all your scripture references, try out the Latter-day Linker plugin for WordPress! It’ll make your scriptures on your blog way easier!