Mathkaba : my tool for managing bibliography

5 March 2010 at 9:55 am 4 comments

I recently decided to systematically conserve a backup copy of articles I am downloading. But what if I want to use these backup copy: I usually only remember the title of the article, or the name of the author. If I was not really working on the article, I may forget the author, or even the title, if I only remember that “somewhere it is written that…”. You may know Mendeley: I tried to use it for some time, but it is not open source, has too many features for what I need, and could be better suited to a mathematical use, by supporting, for example, the MSC classification, or by having specific interfaces with MathSciNet or zentralBlatt.

Hence I decided writing my own program to do the job. For the moment, it may probably crash at any time, and seriously lack essential features, but it satisfies my daily purposes, which are:

  • have a quick overview of the articles I have on my computer
  • have a way of opening them without having to know where it is
  • in case it is not stored on my computer, open a suitable URL without having to search through MathSciNet

The result is called Mathkaba, and is hosted on GitHub. For the moment, it works by reading metadata which is not stored in a database as usual (I hate databases), but in plain text files along with the PDF files, which should have the same syntax as the ASCII output of ZentralBlatt. MathSciNet can also output entries in the endNote format, which seems equally interesting. Any comments are welcome.


Entry filed under: software. Tags: , , .

Creating executables for Windows from a Linux box

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Gaetan Bisson  |  5 March 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Great work! It sounds like lots of us will find use to it…

    Can we be expecting an AUR package in the near future? 😉

  • 2. Alberto  |  5 March 2010 at 2:25 pm

    Have you tried Zotero? It’s an open-source Firefox extension designed to do just what you want. It’s very commendable that you wrote Mathkaba, but maybe contributing to Zotero would be more efficient. There’s always the need for people writing translators and plugins.

    • 3. remyoudompheng  |  5 March 2010 at 6:29 pm

      Zotero looks like a very interesting program and certainly answers a lot of my needs: and it already supports MathSciNet, which should be more than sufficient for a mathematician. It is almost (if not more) as suitable as Mendeley. But my main problem with Mendeley is not only that it is closed source, but that it has too many features for me, and is not specific to mathematicians. It is important to me that the program I use has roughly exactly the number of features I want, works without a database, so that I can use grep to search through metadata, and be an independant program (I have a [limited] attraction to minimality). However, I will be glad to recommend Zotero to people in need.

  • 4. Rodney Price  |  18 October 2010 at 4:56 pm

    I’ve been using Mendeley for some time, and find it only just adequate for my needs. The biggest headache is the Linux implementation — it crashes constantly. So I’m looking for an alternative.

    Are you an emacs user? If so, have you heard of org mode? It’s a note-taking, project planning, organizational tool for emacs that uses LaTeX, and is GPL’ed. A while ago, I tried writing a small script in emacs lisp to do something like what you describe. Using emacs/org-mode as an interface has lots of advantages for me, including the fact that my emacs is already open all the time, and that all files used by emacs/org-mode are standard ascii text.

    Any interest in working on such a thing together?



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