[pmwiki-users] Bibliographies

christian.ridderstrom at gmail.com christian.ridderstrom at gmail.com
Sat Sep 9 06:16:24 CDT 2006

> So I know about the Wiki in that site (which evidently is based on 
> PmWiki).

Yes, the LyX wiki is using PmWiki as its wiki engine. (I administer that 
wiki btw).

> To a large extent, that presupposes that my coauthors know the BibTex 
> format, which will definitely not the normal thing.

I am not sure what you refer to when you say "that presupposes...". But to 
be clear, I agree that users unfamiliar with BibTeX (the majority) should 
not be required to create reference entries by editing the BibTeX format 
as plain text. However, I think it *should* be possible to access the raw 
BibTeX format if you so desire. The format isn't that difficult, so even 
an unfamiliar user ought to be capable of fixing stuff like spelling 
errors etc.

> I agree, it is not complicated.  But I can imagine the expression on
> the face of some of my students who know little and understand even
> less about references or the whole idea behind research reports of
> different kinds.  They need a different interface than a "raw" BibTex
> file.  So do some of my coauthors.


Btw, I think it is probably a good idea to actually explain some of the 
mechanisms to your students. I'm not thinking of complicated 
stuff, just the very, very basics:

* In serious works (e.g. scientific reports) you very often "cite" other 
  sources, e.g. a book or an article. The citation normally appears within 
  the text, but doesn't usually contain all the information needed to find 
  the source. Instead, the complete "reference information" for all the 
  cited sources are gathered in a "bibliography" which is usually found in 
  a separate section at the end.

* The bibliography can be created manually by checking which sources you 
  have cited, gathering the reference information as a list and finally 
  formatting each entry. As you can imagine, this is time consuming and 
  error prone. For instance, every time you add or remove a citation, you 
  may have to fix the bibliography.  A better solution is to store the 
  reference information for all the different sources in a "bibliography 
  database"  and let the computer automatically produce the bibliography 
  for you.

* Note that keeping the reference information in a database also allows 
  you to select the style and appearance separately from the choice of 
  what sources the bibliography should contain. This is very useful as 
  journals typically require the bibliography to look a certain way, and 
  different journals have different requirements...

I think you get the idea of how "advanced" I am here :-)  If we get a wiki 
page for this some day, the text above could go there, probably modified, 
as an introduction.

Getting slightly "advanced", the concept of citation key should probably 
be explained as the mechanism used by the computer to find the matching 
entry in the database.

> The Lyx graphical interface to a database is fine as it is.  Is it 
> possible to create something similar for PmWiki?  Otherwise a simple 
> syntax thing is good enough.  Look up the name of the reference, and 
> that is it.

It might be possible, but it is probably not so simple to do it exactly 
like that online. IIRC, it has incremental search for finding the 
references, and a database can get quite big.. I've seen BibTeX files that 
are a few 100kB.

Implementing a normal search shouldn't be a problem though, and given the 
key the author can then insert his citation.

> After all, the important task is the text, not the references.

Well said.

> > Here you'll find a list of other programs that work with .bib-files:
> > 	http://wiki.lyx.org/BibTeX/Programs
> Seen it.  Most of the programs are for Linux which I normally do not
> use. There are very few programs for administration of BibTex
> databases under windows.

This page lists six programs for Windows

(perhaps it should be referred to from BibTeX/Programs, if you like, 
please do so)

Then there is always Emacs and its mode for editing BibTeX files.

> Some PhP procedure is obviously a better solution.  But where can one 
> find such a procedure?

Have you heard of Google? ;-) Here's the second hit for "bibtex php"


However, depending on what is really needed, it might not be that 
difficult to augment PmWiki with a recipe for the simpler tasks, and use 
a separate tool for more advanced stuff.

> > 	(:bibliographystyle unsrt:)
> > 	(:biblirography SomeGroup.Chr_1st SomeGroup.Christian :)
> Looks reasonable to me.  One should keep oneself close to the Lyx
> syntax in order to simplify a transformation of the PmWiki markup to
> something close to Lyx.

Minor point. It is not really the LyX syntax, rather the LaTeX syntax - 
this is almost splitting hairs though, but the credit is really due to 

> > I think the markup for citing something should just be
> > 
> > 	(:cite Ridderstrom:2003:TWR :)

As a complete aside.... all Windows users be warned. Using ':' in the key 
works fine with BibTeX, but as soon as you get the brilliant idea of 
storing a PDF of the file with the same name as the key it breaks down. 
You are not allowed to use ':' within the file name :-(

So a better example is really

	(:cite Ridderstrom2003_TWR :)

> > I don't quite understand your question here...
> Well, there are a number of different styles as to how the references
> should appear in the bibliography.  Sorting them is one problem, how
> thae appear is another question, that seems to be dependent on the
> chosen style.

In LaTeX/LyX/BibTeX, the style of the bibliography includes more than 
simple stuff as if the title should be in italics of bold. It also 
includes things such as if the bibliography should be sorted or not. In 
addition, I think it also mostly controls how citations appear.

So in essence, the bibliography style is really a style for all of it!

There are however minor variations. For instance, some styles allow using 
slightly different citation keywords, making the citation look slightly 

In my experience using a single style setting for the bibliography has 
worked really well. Once or twice I've created my own style because I had 
to make something look slightly different, but mostly I could just use the 
existing styles.

> What I really would want to have is some procedure that:  Given a set of 
> pages in PmWiki in a predefined sequence containing images, tables, and 
> references to entries in BibTex database:  Produce a Lyx type of file 
> with all the required elements for a book.  I accept the need for final 
> adjustments, but that is the basic goal.  How is that goal accomplished?

It is doable but requires a bit of development. John's work is probably a 
very good starting point, as it is not unrealistic that the resulting 
LaTeX file can be imported by LyX.

Another alternative is to write a recipe that exports a page in LyX 
format, which is getting close to something I've wanted to do for a long 
time. I'd really like to be able to use LyX to edit the wiki pages 
directly... Unfortunately I'm quite busy and it's not looking like I'll 
have more time this fall :-(


Christian Ridderström, +46-8-768 39 44               http://www.md.kth.se/~chr

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