[OS X TeX] Reference managers

Adam R. Maxwell amaxwell at mac.com
Thu Oct 25 02:07:15 EDT 2007

On Oct 24, 2007, at 22:01, Thomas A. Schmitz wrote:

> On Oct 25, 2007, at 2:00 AM, "Adam R. Maxwell" wrote:
>> Papers, Bookends, EndNote, and Sente all support BibTeX to varying  
>> degrees.  What are you looking for that BibDesk doesn't have?   
>> We're always interested in making it suck less ;).
>> -- 
>> adam
> OK, since you mention it: I was having trouble with the search  
> function and wildcards. The reference to the search function really  
> sucks; it just says this:
> For example, the following query includes Boolean, prefix, and  
> suffix searching:
> `appl* OR *ing'
> This query will return documents containing words that begin with  
> "appl" as well as documents that contain words that end with "ing".

That section was borrowed from Apple's official Search Kit  
documentation.  If you can suggest improvements, please do.  Saying it  
sucks is unhelpful; I've repeatedly asked for user contributions to  
documentation, so users can put up or shut up.

> As far as I can see (and I tried a lot), there is no real regular  
> expression search.

There is no claim for real (or imaginary) regular expression search  
for the toolbar search field.  You can use PCRE regex search in the  
Find & Replace panel (cmd-shift-f), but that limits you to a single  

> I was trying to filter my database for entries that have either  
> 'Electra' or 'Elektra' in any field.

Did you try "Electra OR Elektra"?  That worked for me in a quick test  
using those terms.

> But "Ele*tra" would in effect search for two strings, 'Ele*' and  
> 'tra' -- useless, IMHO.

Apple's Search Kit is a bit limited in its wildcards, so you'd have to  
use "Ele* AND *tra" to get a similar effect.  Note that implicit  
wildcards are enabled by default for backwards compatibility with old  
versions of BibDesk; disable that with the search field drop-down menu.

> So I don't quite agree with "forget the rest."

Just to be clear: I'm the only one quoted in this message, but I never  
said "forget the rest."

> Filtering with real regular expressions and creating "virtual  
> databases" is possible with ebib, a bibtex tool for emacs (http://ebib.sourceforge.net/ 
> ), which I like a lot, and (if you're not scared of the command  
> line), bibtool (http://www.gerd-neugebauer.de/software/TeX/BibTool.en.html 
> ) has very advanced searching and filtering options.

Are virtual databases similar to BibDesk's smart groups?  I don't like  
emacs myself, so I'm not about to try ebib.  I have used BibTool, and  
it's a great tool for some tasks, and well documented.  It's not  
trivial to use, though.

> This is much more powerful than this "wildcard" business.

Regular expressions are powerful, but they're also a pain because of  
variations in syntax and are overkill for most bibliography searching  
needs.  If an app uses regexes, does it use PCRE, POSIX, or  
Onigurama?  Does it support named subexpressions?  Are backreferences  
inserted with $1 or \1?.  We toyed with the idea of adding regex  
support a few years ago and decided against it because of this and  
performance issues with regexes and Unicode strings.


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