[OS X TeX] Bibliography management

Simon Spiegel simon at simifilm.ch
Sun Dec 28 23:23:51 CET 2014

> On 28.12.2014, at 22:58, Joseph Wright <joseph.wright at morningstar2.co.uk> wrote:
> On 28/12/2014 21:47, Simon Spiegel wrote:
>>> On 28.12.2014, at 20:43, Joseph Wright <joseph.wright at morningstar2.co.uk> wrote:
>>> On 28/12/2014 19:35, Simon Spiegel wrote:
>>>>> On 28.12.2014, at 20:23, Joseph Wright <joseph.wright at MORNINGSTAR2.CO.UK> wrote:
>>>>> On 28/12/2014 19:18, Simon Spiegel wrote:
>>>>>> Looking beyond BibTeX, there are now a bunch of tools which use the Citation Style Language (CSL). CSL is a very powerful open standard which is, among others, supported by Papers, Zotero and Mendeley (the latter two are free). While not as powerful as biblatex/biber, it is quite versatile, has a lot of traction among developers, offers a lot of ready-made styles and is supported by many WYSIYWG-apps. Unfortunately, there is no LaTeX implementation of CSL, although this could definitely be done. This means that people who want to use Zotero et al. together with LaTeX will end up exporting BibTeX.
>>>>> With my 'LaTeX3' hat on, I've been wondering about how one might tackle
>>>>> to competing desires to have a way of describing bibliography styles in
>>>>> a simple form and of allowing the complex set-ups needed in some subject
>>>>> areas. Off-topic for the current discussion, but this is certainly
>>>>> something worth further consideration. (In a LaTeX context, the idea of
>>>>> being able to alter the style 'in the doc' is worthwhile, but that
>>>>> imposes some requirements on how things can be described.)
>>>> Not really an answer to your question, but while I see little chance of biber/biblatex entering the world of WYSIYWG applications, a (Lua)LaTeX implementation of CSL would be something extremely useful IMO. It would, for the first time, allow to have one solution – datawise and stylewise – which would really work across all platforms (and there are tools for CSL which allow style creation without digging into code). To be honest, I'm really surprised that no one has yet tried to implement this; especially since Bruce d'Arcus, the original creator of CSL, was talking about this right from the beginning.
>>>> Simon
>>> CSL isn't quite what I had in mind. It's not really the sort of thing
>>> one could imagine dropping in to a preamble to customise something in
>>> the way many people need to ('I need the style of X except that ...').
>>> However, like I said, one for another list and needing some careful thought!
>> Sorry for dragging this on, but I'm not really sure why you would need such a thing when full-fledged solutions already exist. Fact is bibliography styles quickly become quite complex; on the other hand, while both CSL and biblatex require some time to get a grip on, neither of them is wizardry. So I really don't see the point if yet another solution which will, especially if it can't match modern solutions and is LaTeX-only in the end. We already had plenty of those.
>> Simon
> Most people's requirement to customise are quite simple, often one entry
> type and one minor change. Look for example at EndNote, which uses a
> simple 'human readable' format which might for example look a bit like
>  Title, Authors, [, Publisher], **Year**
> (It's a GUI, so not that easy to show here.) If all you need to do is
> something like 'I need to include the title for PhD theses' (a recent
> requirement for someone at work using EndNote) then an interface like
> this as a 'front end' form, if perhaps backed by a richer 'programmers'
> version, looks attractive.

(I know and hate Endnote with a vengeance. It's one of the worst pieces of software ever. Basically no update to the style editor in ten years, lots of bugs, and a yearly $99 bug fix. And when they're completely out of their wits, they start suing the competition).

I still don't see the point. One of the main advantages of any bibliographic solution is that you can re-use data and styles. Compared to this, I see the advantages of what you're thinking of as very small. Besides that, the simpler cases will are already by existing styles – be that classic BibTeX, biblatex or any other solution.

Apart from that, I think one of the main weaknesses BibTeX showed in the long run, is that it was focussed (for obvious reasons) on English-speaking (hard) sciences. Covering those is quite simple, but there are already solutions for this. As soon as you leave this area, these kind of simple styles just don't cover it anymore.

It's one of the patterns I've noticed over the years: Almost every time a new bibliographic solution comes out, it only can deal with English-speaking science in the beginning. After that the people behind it suddenly realize that the requirements in other fields are much more demanding and end up adding all kind of half-assed fixes to covert those. 


Simon Spiegel
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