[OS X TeX] BibTeX Questions.

Adam R. Maxwell amaxwell at mac.com
Sun Jan 9 19:08:55 EST 2005

On Jan 9, 2005, at 15:04, Simon Spiegel wrote:

> Hash: SHA1
> On 09.01.2005, at 23:52, Stephan Hochhaus wrote:
>> Am 09.01.2005 um 17:54 schrieb Adam R. Maxwell:
>>> Okay, to satisfy my curiosity, how should BibDesk handle required 
>>> fields?  I'm so used to BD that JabRef is hard to use, but there's 
>>> always room for improvement.
>> BibDesk does a great job at making data entry simple and 
>> straightforward. However, a newbie will most likely not know which 
>> fields are required and which are optional with bibtex or a certain 
>> bst style. BibDesk highlights the names of fields that are mandatory 
>> in red, but I came across some issues when changing the entry type a 
>> couple of times and the updating of the required fields indicator in 
>> former versions (I don't think this is an issue with the latest 
>> version anymore).

Yes, this used to be messed up.  The remaining issues exist basically 
to avoid data loss if a field doesn't exist in the new type.

>> The one thing where JabRef semi-"shines" in data entry is when it 
>> comes to the identification of the mandatory fields. There are some 
>> tabs that will only show you "required fields", "optional fields" and 
>> "general fields". This is very helpful when you're starting your 
>> journey through BibTeX but it somewhat slows you down when you 
>> already know what you are doing. So I think JabRef makes the learning 
>> phase a bit easier but later on it rather slows you down.

Interesting.  I suppose we could hide optional fields, but in my 
experience, most of the optional fields really aren't optional.
> Actually, I think this is very annoying. When I started using 
> LaTeX/BibTeX I went with jurabib right from the beginning. Now jurabib 
> has lots of special fields which other styles don't use but which make 
> it very powerful. Any decision by the app what fields are required or 
> optional is pretty pointless IMO when you use jurabib (I don't know 
> about other styles).

BibDesk uses the required/optional fields definitions provided in 
btxdoc.dvi by Oren Patashnik (the author of BibTeX) for BibTeX types.  
Other types are probably defined however the original requester 
suggested; as Simon notes, the usefulness of the "required/optional" 
definition is largely dependent on a particular .bst.

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