[OS X TeX] Crossrefs in BibDesk?

Adam Maxwell amaxwell at mac.com
Wed May 18 18:50:38 CEST 2005

On Wednesday, May 18, 2005, at 09:15AM, Curtis Clifton <curt.clifton at mac.com> wrote:

>On May 18, 2005, at 9:26 AM, Adam R. Maxwell wrote:
>>> (or what it should do, for that matter.).
>> We are confused about that as well :).  I'm curious as to what 
>> advantage (real or perceived) crossrefs have over filling out all 
>> fields of an entry.
>Imagine that you need to put 6 different papers from a conference 
>proceedings in your bib file.  With cross references you can create a 
>single entry carrying all the general information for the proceedings 
>(conference name, location, month, year, publisher, series, volume, 
>number, editor, ...).  Then the entries for each paper only need the 
>paper title, authors, page numbers, and the cross-reference.  This can 
>be a significant savings in data entry.  This was especially true 
>before BibDesk came along with its automatic completion of entries.

I think a key point here is "...before BibDesk came along...," and part of what I'd like to establish is that this is a feature that would be used.  For instance, we (mainly Mike) just spent a /lot/ of time implementing macro support, which people on this list griped about, but we haven't heard any feedback on it.  So either a) it rocks, we did it completely right or b) no one uses it.  See the dilemma?  Honestly, I'm starting to think it's better to ignore people who say an app is useless unless it has feature X.

In BibDesk, you can start enter the fields that are unique to a particular entry, then drag and drop the parent crossref'd entry onto the editor window; this will overwrite the empty fields.  So the savings in data entry isn't a compelling argument for me, especially since this makes your file more readable, portable, and immune to sorting problems.

>Another advantage is that a data entry mistake in something like the 
>name of the conference only needs to be corrected in one place, instead 
>of 6.

This argument is reasonable, and I also know that people have pre-BibDesk bib files with lots of crossrefs which they need to  maintain.  We've targeted some type of crossref support for a future version, but a discussion like this is needed to flesh out what it will look like.

>It seems to me that if an entry has a cross reference, then the data in 
>the referenced entry should appear in the editing window for the 
>referencing entry but shouldn't be editable there.  Perhaps a small 
>arrow icon could appear next to the non-editable field.  Clicking this 
>icon would open the referenced entry for editing.  Maybe dragging one 
>entry onto the edit window for another could be used to establish a 
>cross reference.  

see my comment above :)

>Searches should show the entries that would match if 
>the cross-referenced data were in-lined.
>I don't know the precise semantics of cross references.  For example, 
>what happens if an entry contains a booktitle, but also has a cross 
>reference to a book entry?  Does BibTeX use the booktitle from the 
>original entry, or does it use the title from the cross-referenced 
>Per Matthias's comment about sort order:  Since cross-references make 
>the dependencies explicit, it would be feasible to automatically sort 
>so that referenced items appear after referencing items (assuming no 
>cycles in the referencing graph).

I think sorting is the most challenging part of the problem, really; you're suggesting that BibDesk do something that BibTeX itself can't do!  I appreciate the discussion and comments.  Curt, if you could add yours to the RFE, I'd appreciate it.

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