[texhax] Puzzle: bibtex working when it *shouldn't*!!! ???

Rolf Turner r.turner at auckland.ac.nz
Mon May 7 00:37:06 CEST 2018

In a paper that I recently processed in my capacity as Technical Editor,
the authors specified the name "references.bib" in their \bibliography{} 
command.  The copy editor processed the LaTeX file using MiKTeX and got
a complaint that it couldn't find "references.bib.bib" --- which indeed
it couldn't!   So the processing came to a shuddering halt.

I could not figure out what the hell was going on, since everything 
worked OK for *me*.  (I run pdflatex and bibtex from the command line,
under Ubuntu Linux.)

Fortunately the copy editor very cleverly figured out the problem,
replaced "\bibliography{references.bib}" by "\bibliography{references}"
and all was well.

Just out of idle curiosity, I would like to gain some insight as to 
*why* things worked for me when it seems they shouldn't have.  (If 
bibtex had thrown the same error at me as MiKTeX threw at the copy 
editor I would *probably*  have been able to figure things out and
remove the spurious ".bib" before sending the paper "into production".
I would thereby have saved the copy editor a great deal of wasted time
and hair-tearing.)

So has anyone any explanation as to why one can get away with the 
spurious/redundant ".bib" when running bibtex from the command line,
but not when running it under MiKTeX?

I noticed (*after* the fact :-( ) that when I do the bibtex thing
from the command line I get:

> This is BibTeX, Version 0.99d (TeX Live 2015/Debian)
> The top-level auxiliary file: anzs12230_e.aux
> The style file: anzsj.bst
> Database file #1: references.bib.bib

So it *says* that it is looking for "references.bib.bib" (which I never 
noticed.  Psigh!).  But it apparently happily *uses* "references.bib", 
since it produces citations and a bibliography and gets everything 
right.  Weird.

As I say, this is idle curiosity, so don't anyone waste too much time on 
the issue if the explanation is not immediately obvious.


Rolf Turner

Technical Editor ANZJS
Department of Statistics
University of Auckland
Phone: +64-9-373-7599 ext. 88276

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