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Sunday, January 1st, 2006, 11:06 pm

Web-Based References Manger

Book scanning

SEVERAL days ago, in the context of ‘housekeeping’ computer chores, I stressed the need to manage paper references in an appropriate application. At the time I mentioned JabRef, which is a Java references management program. I have had JabRef installed for quite a while, but did not bother to accommodate it with data.

Knowing the limitation of workstation-bound software, I decided to go ‘shopping’ for a Web-based alternative. I have many such applications installed on my Webspace, so I know their powers. I also know that I can take advantage of remote access, but it can be slow (especially while on vacation), cumbersome, and only loosely inter-operable. JabRef is cross-platform, but installation on each desktop is still a requirement, which is less than desirable.

My pursuit for a Web-based program was very fruitful. I found only one application of the type I had sought. Freshmeat (which is suitable to vegetarians too!) had me aware of PHPBibMan (PHP Bibliography Manager). Here is my own description of PHPBibMan. It is based on what I have been able to gather after a few minutes of exploration:

  • PHP/MySQL
  • Open Source
  • Free, apparently GPL
  • Rich graphical interface
  • Multiple users, multiple groups
  • BibTeX import and BibTeX output (albeit import is not very reliable)
  • High level of complexity (over 500 files), plenty of functionality

PHPBibMan is finally installed on my site alongside similar applications, the latest of which is for spreadsheets. So far I like what I see, but the documentation (installation instructions in particular) are poor. There is plenty of potential for PHPBibMan, but merely nonexistent documentation had me digging the files and experimenting before actual success. The projects looks as thought it ceases to be actively maintained last year.

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