Archive for category: FOSS

Detexify2 – LaTeX symbol classifier

June 12th, 2010 by

Using HTML5 features, this is the kind of obvious tool that makes symbol lookup faster than doing it by hand.

Just draw the symbol in the box and up comes the LaTeX code, and the package name that contains it.

Introducing citeproc-js

January 29th, 2010 by

Citation copy-editing is one of those deceptively small burdens that have a way of taking over the working day. If left untended, the task of tidying up casually scribbled references can snowball to crisis proportions as a submission deadline approaches. Similarly, when a submission to one publisher is unsuccessful, significant effort may be required to recast its citations in the format required by another. Collaboration outside of one’s own field can bring with it an unwelcome tangle of fresh style-guide quandaries to ponder and fight through. These are things that the machines, if they want to make themselves useful, should be doing for us.

There is plenty of collective experience in this line, and as fate would have it, there are also plenty of collective solutions. In the TeX/LaTeX world, authors and their editors can today choose between BibTeX and BibLaTeX — both of them excellent utilities — with the several variants of the former supported by no fewer than four separate versions of the BibTeX program. [1] Users of WYSIWYG word processors can look to the bibliographic support built into Word or Open Office, or they can turn to an external solution such as EndNote ™, ProCite ™, Reference Manager ™, or more recently Zotero or Mendeley. Migrating data between these environments is a process fraught with uncertainty, but it is sometimes unavoidable when you need this kind of output, and it can only be produced on that kind of system …


Nascent: Igor – a Google Wave robot to manage your references

August 20th, 2009 by

Looks like the Connotea team is on the right track. Instead of trying to bolt something to insert references into word, they are trying to go straight to wave.

We have blogged before about what a good integration between references and writing tools should look like, and quite honestly, Igor looks like it’s really getting it in terms of agility. You can specify a few terms and it disambiguates that into the reference you need. Looks smarter than the approach that endnote/bibTeX/zotero/Mendeley use. It only works for the online reference managers citeUlike and Connotea, though.

I’m not sure the references are portable, i.e., if I copy/paste a chunk of text with references, they come along to wherever I paste it to (it must be another wave, in this case). Endnote/bibTeX get this right, although they depend on a local file that you would have to send along.

As things stand, I think wave has a very good chance of becoming _the_ platform for collaborative scientific writing. You may have to convince your collaborators to try it (and some must have been put off by Google Docs, which is clearly not ready for science), but it could be very motivating to see their writing grow next to yours in real time.

Since wave is a lot more open than Google Docs it would not surprise me to see robots coming up to mend the deficiencies that make Docs unfit for papers: no tables, crossrefs, footnotes, equations, etc. Wave gives you versioning for free, which was another pain point of scientific collaboration.

from on .

Convert .doc files to wikis in a WYSIWYG way: extension for MediaWiki

June 12th, 2009 by

This could be a blessing.SunWiki_150 There are occasions where you (or your organization) have a lot of content in word files that would be better off in some form of collaborative/searchable repository. Wikis are very handy in these cases. However, it takes quite a lot of footwork to reformat all tables, headings etc to wiki parlance. This plugin for openOffice takes care of it.

Some people have chosen a wiki for their scientific homepage (Dario posted a tutorial in How to run an invisible wiki). I have considered it myself, although I’m more inclined to use a wordpress blog (post on how to set it up to maximize google scholar’s chance of getting your pubs coming soon!). One of the advantages of a blog over a wiki is that one can use a very good WYSIWYYG tool, windows live writer. Unfortunately only for windows. Now, this advantage is gone: one could reasonably set up and update without having to ftp files around or use crappy editors that come built-in with most wikis.

Lawsuit over open-source Zotero dismissed

June 7th, 2009 by

Good news for FOSS and the entire industry, really. Thomson Reuters claim didn’t hold on court. In an ecosystem where all competitors are launching new creative features every day (Mendeley, Zotero, citeSmart, jabRef, etc), development of endNote seems glacial.

EndNote maker’s lawsuit over open-source Zotero dismissed – Ars Technica