[OS X TeX] plea for help with TeX bibliographic databases: the humanities, and unicode
rhart at mail.utexas.edu
Tue Apr 12 22:44:58 EDT 2005
After reading all of the very helpful and detailed responses so
generously offered in the thread,
Re: [OS X TeX] Beginner: bibliography strategy?
I decided that I should revisit the problem, which I had two months ago
given up on in complete frustration, of working with bibliographic
databases in LaTeX, for publications in the humanities (following the
Chicago Manual of Style), with unicode.
First I should note that I am in no way an expert in computers,
programming, LaTeX, or TeX, but I have spent a considerable amount of
time trying to resolve these issues to get something working.
In general, most of the tools I work with now handle unicode fairly
well -- both the extended European characters (probably of most
interest to others on this list) and CJK (Chinese, Japanese and
TeXShop works perfectly, as far as I can tell, including complex regex
expressions, and is a really excellent program,
most LaTeX packages work without incident,
other utilities like Terminal and Perl work fine, and finally,
XeTeX of course is an extremely exciting development.
But bibliographic databases and utilities seem to me to still have
considerable limitations. My sense is that they probably work well for
the sciences and medicine in English, but not as well for the
humanities, which have more complex (or admittedly, arcane, if you
prefer) citations and bibliographies, and almost always include several
EndNote, as some have noted, crashes often, more than even beta
software should, yet costs $100 per upgrade. While EndNote 8 *is* a
significant upgrade -- it now handles unicode -- it does not import CJK
properly so you have to type it in by hand. Import and export filters,
and connection files are very good. But find/replace capabilities are
very poor: for example, it is impossible to generate LaTeX keys from
the author and year fields to be placed in the label field (that is,
except by hand, one-by-one). For reasons I don't understand, exporting
all the records as text does not work reliably, making it impossible to
export the text, clean it up through perl scripts, and import it again.
But EndNote is the only program that comes close to having the
capabilities to handle humanities citations.
BibTex with LaTeX packages, such as natbib, etc., don't seem to me to
have even the number of fields needed to be potentially capable of
formatting a bibliography for the humanities.
BibDesk still seems to me not to handle unicode well. I turned off
character conversions, set open and save to UTF-8, but I can't even get
it to properly import European characters in a file, or by pasting an
entire record. Only cutting and pasting field by field, or typing into
each field, seems to work. BibDesk otherwise looks very promising, with
excellent integration with TeXShop, so I hope this will be fixed soon
(assuming I'm not missing something here).
Sente seems very nice for downloading files, but the choice of filters
seems very odd, for example not including OCLC WorldCat, the most
complete database for research university libraries.
So after having spent a couple more days looking in to all of this, I
have again concluded that the most efficient strategy for formatting a
humanities bibliography is to import from WorldCat into EndNote, export
a formatted \bibitem ... entry, paste into my bibliography, and clean
it up by hand.
This is not the approach I would prefer to take, and this is really
another plea for help: I would, of course, be extremely grateful for
any suggestions, or corrections to these very preliminary impressions.
Assistant Professor, Departments of History and Asian Studies
University of Texas at Austin
office: Room 405, Garrison Hall
office phone: 512-475-7258
department fax: 512-475-7222
email: rhart at mail.utexas.edu
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