Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

« Ludwig VanMainThe Legends »


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Bibdesk is a graphical editor for BibTeX files. Let me quickly give an apology for BibTeX: It’s great. Anyone who has to create more than one bibliography in his life should use it. You write all the things you may want to reference into a file and then you can include them in any document you write. BibTeX will then automatically generate a bibliography from you database that contains the things you actually reference. Very simple.

The only thing that some people see as a drawback is that BibTeX only works together with LaTeX – so as usual, users of MSOffice are out of luck. Yet, people have been known to switch to TeX just for the bibliography management. And never looked back.

Bibdesk Icon The only ugly thing about BibTeX was that you mostly had to edit your bibliography database in a text file by hand. That’s not very pretty and that’s where Bibdesk comes in. It is the editor that hides the ugly text file from you and give you the graphical interface you deserve.

Actually it does a lot more. Things like instant filtering for your favourite papers are obvious. Others, like integration with the Mac’s Services feature, drag and drop, autocompletion, linking to local and remote files, are less obvious but very nice. If you’re working with bibliographies, you may want to give Bibdesk a go. Just throw your existing BibTeX file (or a copy of it to be on the safe side) at it and see what happens. It’s not 100% ready yet – so be sure to report any bugs you see.

Oh, and I’m happy to report that I’ve been helping out a little for the latest release of the application. Blame me if you find errors with the AppleScript implementation (working with multiple documents may be shaky… try to find out the other problems ;). Or buy the other guys a pint so they can tolerate my nitpicking about UI details better.

While everybody who worked on Bibdesk before I started recently was very welcoming, it still felt like coming late to a party. There are many things I just didn’t (and still don’t) understand from looking at the source code. So the ‘large picture’ still isn’t entirely clear to me. Luckily, there are still many places where you can improve or add things with a ‘local overview’.

Anyway, if you have any excuse to try the program. Download it now, try it out, and write down the bugs you’re going to run into.

September 21, 2004, 21:07

Tagged as software.


Comment by darius: User icon

hi, I tried Bibdesk for a few days. I use to do bibtex in Alpha. I just wonder if you tried Alpha in Bibmode. It is also a comprehensive system. what are adventages of Bibdesk compared to Alpha except the visual interface? Another point: Drag and Drop function. I have some references with bibtex strings in txt. I opened the document and tried to drag one entry to Bibdesk, nothing happens.

March 30, 2006, 7:37

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