[OS X TeX] bibdesk 1.1

Adam R. Maxwell amaxwell at mac.com
Fri Jun 10 04:30:36 CEST 2005

On Jun 9, 2005, at 10:45, Norm Gall wrote:

> On 9-Jun-05, at 8:23 AM, Adam R. Maxwell wrote:
>> On Jun 9, 2005, at 07:12, Norm Gall wrote:
>>> I use carbon Emacs (not surprisingly) and various built-in  
>>> functions (like bibref) gag on them.  I have some lisp that  
>>> converts back, but it sometimes take a while to do a 500 entry  
>>> database.
>> Funny, I parsed that as "I use carbon Emacs <gag>".  Anyway, we  
>> use capitalized names since they are used as keys in a dictionary,  
>> and things break internally if we change a character in the key.
> Well, I suppose that's fair enough.
>> We could probably lowercase them on saving, but shouldn't bibref  
>> be fixed to understand the keys, since they're correct BibTeX?
> I am not sure that they are. All of the examples of bibtex database  
> files provided in teTeX have lowercase field names as does the  
> bibtext specification in the LaTeX Book by Lamport.

Ah, the beauty of an undocumented syntax!  I'll spare everyone my  
rant on parsing BibTeX, and recommend Nelson Beebe's article in  
TUGboat (1993, v. 14, no. 4); suffice it to say that much of what is  
known about BibTeX has been developed by reverse-engineering it.

For instance, BibTeX is surprising case-insensitive with respect to  
field names and even cite keys:

     Author = "someone",
     Year = 2005,
     Journal = "Not Likely"

is equivalent to

   @article{    mycitekey2005,
     aUTHOR   = {someone},
     yeaR     = 2005,
     Journal  = "Not Likely"

as far as BibTeX itself is concerned; I didn't even know that cite  
keys were case-insensitive until we added crossref support to BibDesk!

Beebe's bibclean will downcase everything except @Article and the  
cite key, whereas BibTool will downcase the cite key as well.  It is  
further interesting that a cite key (according to TLC 2) is  
essentially a LaTeX command, and is theoretically subject to the same  
restrictions; in practice, BibTeX allows almost anything in the cite  
key, so BibTeX 1.0 will have some interesting backwards compatibility  
to maintain.


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