[OS X TeX] Bibliography management

Simon Spiegel simon at simifilm.ch
Mon Dec 29 14:08:11 CET 2014

> On 28.12.2014, at 23:13, Adam R. Maxwell <amaxwell at mac.com> wrote:
>> On Dec 28, 2014, at 13:58 , Joseph Wright <joseph.wright at morningstar2.co.uk> wrote:
>> 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
> BibDesk uses string templating for export, which
> is similarly human-readable, but ISTR there's also
> a GUI. It's 'proprietary' insofar as no other software
> uses it, but is BSD-licensed. We considered a UI for CSL
> and the data model that Bruce D'Arcus was proposing several
> years ago, but it was exceedingly complex and too different from
> BibTeX to support in BibDesk.

BibDesk's template system is actually quite powerful and allows for some rather complex styles. But I think it's also a good illustration that there's no such thing as a simple tool for bibliographic styles. While the GUI is nice, it doesn't expose all functionality the style system allows. And even at that stage you're already at a level of complexity where I don't really see how you could use it for a "quick format definition in the preamble" approach. To use all bells and whistles you have to edit the style file by hands, and while this is certainly less complex than biblatex, for example, it's certainly mich more complicated than what Joseph has in mind.

It's my firm believe that bibliographic styles are inherently complex beasts and that any "simple solution" ultimately leads to something unsatisfactory. The road to take in my opinion is to make use of one of the existing tools and not try to re-invent the wheel. A lot of thought went into both biblatex and CSL and they both offer a variety of predefined styles. BTW there's an online editor for CSL which allows you to search for styles by appearance and then to alter them: http://editor.citationstyles.org/about/ As far as tools for the user go, CSL is really already quite advanced.

Simon Spiegel
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