[OS X TeX] Crossrefs in BibDesk?

Curtis Clifton curt.clifton at mac.com
Wed May 18 21:50:23 CEST 2005

On May 18, 2005, at 11:50 AM, Adam Maxwell wrote:

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

Having done open source development myself, I certainly understand the 
dilemma.  Just for the record regarding macro support: it rocks.  I use 
macros regularly now.  Thanks!

> Honestly, I'm starting to think it's better to ignore people who say 
> an app is useless unless it has feature X.

You might be right about that.  If someone is refusing to use an app 
based on missing feature X, then they probably haven't realized that 
features Y and Z are also missing.  So fixing X just initiates tail 
chasing.  On the other hand, many people have massive existing bib 
files that act as a barrier to entry.  The research group I belong to 
has many thousands of entries in the shared bib files.  These files 
heavily use macros and cross references.  I finally decided several 
months ago, given that BibDesk was so much better than the other 
options, to just start a new bib file and migrate items from the shared 
files to my personal bib file as needed.  Macro support has made this 
much easier.

> …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!

Sure, but BibDesk does lots of things that BibTeX can't do.  I haven't 
dug into the source code yet, but I suspect having the entire bib file 
sucked into an object model should make the sorting fairly easy, 
especially since transitive cross-refs aren't allow.  One pass over the 
set of elements would yield the subset that serve as targets for 
cross-references.  The file emitter could just save this subset for 
output after the other entries.

Please note that I don't intend here to cast any aspersions if no one 
decides to take this on.  "Theoretically easy" does not equal 
"practically easy"---let alone interesting, fun, or motivating for a 
volunteer coder.  Maybe I'll have time to work on a patch after my 
dissertation is done (6 weeks!).  As much benefit as I've gotten from 
BibDesk, I really should try to give something back.

> I appreciate the discussion and comments.  Curt, if you could add 
> yours to the RFE, I'd appreciate it.




Curtis Clifton, PhD Candidate
Dept. of Computer Science, Iowa State University

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