Friday, October 28, 2011

Feature of the Week: Introducing BibSonomy Spheres

What are BibSonomy Spheres?

As a social bookmark and publication sharing system, most of BibSonomy's content is user generated and as the number of users using the system is increasing, also the amount of information available increases. Consequently more and more topics of interest come into the system and accordingly the user has to somehow focus on relevant entries. One approach for focussing on relevant resources is to just look at entries of users which are relevant for you. But interests are diverse and accordingly the set of relevant users distributes over the set of interests.

BibSonomy now allows you to arbitrarily group other users according to your topics of interest. You could, e.g. build a group of your co-workers and one of users which you share some interests. Such a group is called "Sphere".

How can a build a sphere and assign users to it?

If you have identified a user as relevant to, e.g., your 'soccer' topic of interest, you can navigate to the users page in BibSonomy (e.g.
on the top of the sidebar (on the right) you see the 'friend' button.

Here you can add or remove the user from some of your spheres but you can also create a new sphere by entering the corresponding name into the input field and pressing 'add' (or the enter key). Note that you can directly navigate to each sphere by clicking on the sphere names.

Accessing your Spheres

You get a brief summary of your spheres if you navigate to http/ (or by following the 'mySpheres' entry in your personal menu. On this summary page you essentially find each sphere's members as well as the corresponding tag clouds:

But also on the side bar on your profile page or the friends page you find a "sphere cloud" linking to your spheres:

As on any other resource list in BibSonomy, you can also follow a given sphere using a rss-feed (publrss/sphere/).

Following a Sphere in iGoogle

You can finally follow a sphere by adding our brand new iGoogle gadget to your iGoogle Dashboard. Just add our gadget either directly or even simpler by following this link (please don't get irritated by the privacy dialog - we don't access any of your private data stored at google. We just store your query parameters).

Why should I use BibSonomy spheres?

Firstly, of course, because it is a cool feature ;-) But we will also to continue to build services upon BibSonomy's Spheres, such as personalized user and tag recommendations, improving search and many more. By using BibSonomy Spheres you also support this development by providing valuable data for training our models.


BibSonomy Spheres as well as the iGoogle Gadget are in an early development phase. Please excuse any bug you encounter and leave us a short message, so that we can fix it as soon as possible. We are also open to improvements. So, if you happen to have any comments, pleas don't hesitate to email us.

Best Wishes,

Folke Mitzlaff

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Today's Release (2.0.19)

Today we released BibSonomy 2.0.19, parts of the source code are again available in our Maven repository.

As always, this release contains numerous small bugfixes. Here we typically present only the coolest new features or important changes and fixes. Today I want to make an exception from this and give you the complete list of changes such that you can get an impression on what we've been working in the last month. Of course, there are more features in progress that will be released soon.

List of Changes for BibSonomy 2.0.19:
  • slightly new layout for start page
  • only posts from trusted users are now shown on start page
  • introduced spheres (hint: a highly interesting feature that will be presented by Folke in the next feature of the week)
  • added statistics for the /discussed page
  • removed deprecated Bibsonomy class from REST API - use RESTLogic instead
  • removed Delicious Yahoo! importer
  • better exception handling for Delicious import
  • migrated add/remove friend
  • filter param "myPDF" renamed to "JUST_PDF", "myDuplicates" to "DUPLICATES"
  • BibTeX key no longer marked as required and is now automatically generated, if not entered on /postPublication
  • tag field marked as required input
  • removed sidebar filter
  • optional fields (homepage, realname) now hidden during registration
  • "join group" links in new layout; only shown when not already member
  • fixed width of group real name for /group pages
  • JSON export now contains separated person names (first/last)
  • larger headings for tab layouts
  • fixes for PLOS and ScienceDirect scraper
  • fixed OpenID bug (whitespace around OpenID)
  • related users in sidebar now as cloud (not list)
  • added HTTP Basic Authentication (only available when SSL is used)
  • added SSL (only available when HTTP Basic Authentication is used)

As always, we'll go into detail in our "Feature of the Week" blog post series.

Happy tagging!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Feature of the Week: BibSonomy on Twitter

From now on, you can follow news and developments of BibSonomy on Twitter. Under the alias BibSonomyCrew we’ll announce new features and new blog posts.
We’ll also let you know about new papers, workshops or presentations dealing with BibSonomy.

To read our tweets you can follow us here:!/BibSonomyCrew. Or check out the silver-gray box to the right of this blog showing the latest tweets.

Two more things:

  • We are always curious to find out what others learn from BibSonomy’s data. Therefore, if one of your papers using a BibSonomy dataset has been accepted for publication, please let us know. We’ll be happy to announce your paper on Twitter to let others in the community know about your findings!
  • At the moment, we are planning to extend our twitter by e. g. posting popular posts or best rated resources. If you have anything particular in mind that you’d like to read on Twitter just tell us.
Happy Tagging!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

AutoCompletion for Post Publication Details

This week we present a new feature that supports you in posting a publication.When posting a publication, up to now all fields (for example authors, BibTex key, year, booktitle, volume, ....)
have been autocompleted by the alphabetically first entry of all available entries BibSonomy knows. Now, when two or more options for a field are available this is indicated by a small triangle on the right edge of the specific field.

With a simple mouseclick on this triangle you can see and choose between all entries that have already been used. The number of times this entry has already been used appears in parentheses.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Feature of the week: person name normalization in "Last, First" form

As announced earlier, we changed the format of person names for author and editor fields in publication posts from First Last to Last, First in the last release. Since this has quite some implications, I would like to discuss the changes a bit more in detail in this feature of the week.

Why "Last, First"?

The change from the First Last format (e.g., "D.E. Knuth") to Last, First ("Knuth, D.E.") was an overdue step that has been requested by many users of BibSonomy (see also the comments on our blog post).

The old format did not allow our users to correctly store user names that contain two last names. For example, in the name of our colleague Beate Navarro Bullock the first name was erroneously detected to be "Beate Navarro" but it really is only "Beate". When such data was exported from BibSonomy, other systems could not repair it. For instance, in a literature list this would have caused a wrong position of the reference (under "B" instead of "N" in our example). Furthermore, name based citations like [Navarro Bullock et al., 2009] would have used the wrong last name ("Bullock" instead of "Navarro Bullock").

With the new Last, First format (Navarro Bullock, Beate), the name is correctly stored and recognized by other applications and BibSonomy itself (e.g., for the author pages). BibSonomy does no longer "destroy" correctly entered names!

By the way, the new format also correctly handles the lineage (e.g., "Jr.") of persons. You can enter it in the form Last, Jr, First and you will get it back in the same format.

Interaction with BibSonomy

Naturally, this change is of big importance to all users and applications that import data into BibSonomy or export their data from BibSonomy. Since BibSonomy supports a wide variety of import and export formats, I will here briefly explain how each format is handled.

  • In general, each input format supports both First Last and Last, First. E.g., XML and JSON with BibSonomy's REST-API and the BibTeX and EndNote import in the web interface.
  • When editing a publication reference, you can basically use the format you like. However, after saving the post, the names will be normalized and when you edit it the next time, they will be in Last, First
    This has the advantage that you can see if both parts of the name were correctly identified.
  • Both the XML (format=xml) and the JSON (format=json) output of BibSonomy's REST-API use Last, First for the author and editor attributes of the bibtex element.
  • Nothing has changed in BibSonomy's "regular" JSON export. Person names are returned in "First Last" form:
    "author": [ 
        "Douglas Crockford"
    After the next release (scheduled for October 26th), the JSON output will additionally include the fields "authors" and "editors" (notice the "s" at the end) with separated "first" and "last" parts:
    "authors": [ 
        {"first" : "Douglas", "last" : "Crockford"}
  • The BibTeX export now returns authors and editors in Last, First form. You can change this to First Last by adding the parameter firstLastNames=on to the URL. Alternatively, you can use our new export dialog that is triggered by moving the mouse over the BibTeX export link on each page:
  • The EndNoteRIS (EndNote), and RIS (ReferenceManager) export all use the Last, First format.
  • For all other export formats we did not change the person name format (to the best of my knowledge).
Please note that most applications (like BibTeX, JabRef, Citavi, or EndNote) support both types of formats anyway and thus Last, First should not bring you any problems but rather the possibility to correctly represent more types of person names than First Last.

What else did change?

During our intensive tests of the new format we realized that BibSonomy has quite a lot of data that is - to be hones - broken, dirty, inconsistent. E.g., author fields like "A. Einstein and" or "Knuth, D.E., Kleinberg, J.", etc. In short: strings where often there is no hope that we can automatically and correctly clean them.
What was more important, however, was the fact that due to the new normalization some hashes of posts, i.e., their unique identifiers changed. When we realized this we thought about the implications and finally looked at the numbers - of 2795609 posts only 20215 posts (less than one percent) changed. And as said - almost all of these posts had broken or "dirty" person names and clearly stemmed from broken batch imports.

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