Saturday, December 24, 2011

Best Season's Greetings from the BibSonomy Team!

Scientists usually don't believe in mystical things like elves - but in fact, we can't be 100% sure if they aren't dancing right now within our institute, because actually (not surprisingly) there isn't anybody there right now :) As you see, we're on a leave, and we hope you are too - wishing you a great Christmas time, and a good start into a successfull new year 2012. We will do our best to keep on providing a good BibSonomy service for you, and hope that we keep on getting great feedback and suggestions from you how we can do things better!

For the meantime - if you ever wanted to locate Santa Clause on Google Maps - here you can :)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Feature of the Week: BibSonomy's new Look

The days at the end of the year are usually a good time to look back on the past 12 months and to take a look ahead to ideas, tasks and challenges for the approaching new year. This week's post is dedicated to the latter and the bigger goal we have set for BibSonomy in 2012 is to give it a new, revised and modern design.

Since its birth in 2005 BibSonomy has been enriched with new features to facilitate and ease the organization of bookmarks and publications, the social interaction with other scientists or getting up to date with the state of the art in science. For some time now, we've felt, that BibSonomy could use a fresh look and a new, reorganized navigational structure, to keep all this functionality together while still being a lightweight and easy-to-use system.

With all that in mind, earlier this year, we started two initiatives: The first one was to set up a project together with our University's department for Human-Machine Systems Engineering. In that project students from different disciplines were asked to use BibSonomy (as first timers) for several tasks that belong the the system's core (like storing and retrieving publications, searching for them or for other users). The participant's behavior was analyzed (e.g., using professional eye-tracking tools) and their feedback collected.

The second initiative was to find a capable designer who could give BibSonomy a fresh, cool look and feel while making functional and intuitive navigational design a key priority. Finally, since changing established workflows and interfaces is usually a delicate matter, another priority was to keep a new design true to the current look and feel.
We are happy to announce that for that task we could win a young designer from Kassel: Daniil Tanygin.

Before we begin to realize a new design, we now want to ask you - our users - for your opinion. Therefore, here are two of the latest sketches Daniil has created for us that show one of the many post-listing sites (e.g., myBibSonomy or home) in BibSonomy:

Any feedback is welcome. We are especially looking forward to your thoughts on the new design ideas and to your own ideas on workflows that you think should be simplified, parts of the page that in your opinion should look different or functions that need to be made more intuitive.
Feel free to state any comment below this post, or send us your feedback via e-mail to webmaster bibsonomy org

Happy tagging

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

[Feature of the Week] BibSonomy Forecast: Partly (tag)cloudy!

Since its beginning, BibSonomy has undergone several changes - layouts were modified (who of you can still recall the early style from 2005?), new functions were added, internal modules were restructured to enhance performance, and many more. However, throughout these times, the very core of BibSonomy remained the same - namely to be a system to collaboratively annotate (bookmark and publication) resources using freely chosen tags. Despite the fact that the "Web 2.0 hype" is declining since quite some time, the usefulness of free social annotations is reflected e.g. in the usage of tags to organize questions at stackoverflow. So to use a pointed formulation, one could say that tags and their aggregation into tag clouds are a bit like the "heart" of BibSonomy as a social bookmarking platform.

Taking a look back in this way, we decided to polish up our tag clouds a bit. Since the last release, you will have noticed a slight but noticeable change: We've tried to make our tag clouds a bit "cloudier" and nicer. Mainly we've fixed the way how tag sizes are computed (as usually, larger and more visible fonts correspond to more frequently used tags; but we're scaling differently to convey a clearer picture), and changed the alignment. Here is how it looked before:

And here's the new look:
As you can see, it's no revolution, but just a bit nicer and cleaner. But because tags are to close to BibSonomy's (and of course our) heart, we're happy about this neat improvement. We've basically done this for all clouds - this means also for personal or group tag clouds. So we hope you like the new style as much as we do, and you can be even a bit happier when tagging :)


Thursday, November 24, 2011

New Release (2.0.20)

Yesterday we deployed our monthly release of BibSonomy - we're at version 2.0.20 now. The new improvements and features of this release are mainly of internal nature; in addition, we fixed a lot of bugs in order to make your overall usage experience better. Specifically, this release contained the following improvements:
  • First embedding of metadata to facilitate a structured access by search engines
  • fixed Delicious importer
  • fixed sphere dialogues
  • fixed authorization issue via Typo3 plugin
  • fixed layout problems on BibSonomy's mobile view
  • many further small bug & layout fixes
  • added new scraper for Google Books
  • repaired scrapers (Amazon, PubMed, Cell, CiteseerX)
  • adapted database indexes for faster response times
  • added support for synchronization to REST-API
In December, we will take a break from our monthly release cycle, to be prepared to start the new year 2012 with the next release. Until there, stay tuned, and happy tagging!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Short down time today

A short explanation on why BibSonomy was down this morning: Actually, BibSonomy was running fine but one of the routers which connects our university building with the internet was down. Unfortunately, we have no influence on the infrastructure which usually works very good. It took two hours before the router was working properly again. Sorry for this and lets keep our fingers crossed that the router will not go down again.

Feature of the week: Add new publications by ISBN

This week we present a small but - we think - nice feature and we hope it will save you a lot of time. While searching for interesting and new papers the boring part is often to collect all meta data for storing the new entry. We try to make this part as easy as possible and several earlier blog posts describe the bookmarklet or the underlying scraping service which extracts important information for you. If you do not have the necessary bookmarklet, you have to add it to your browser. The scraping service can also be utilized to add a publication identified just by its ISBN or DOI.

There are two ways to do this: The first way is directly via our web service. You start by clicking post publication in the menu and select the ISBN/DOI add dialog which looks like this:

Then you enter your ISBN or DOI and all the information is gathered for you and your are done by entering some keywords (tags) to describe the content. Try it e. g. with the following ISBN: 978-3898383325.

The other way is more common. Imagine, you were searching the web for something new and found a book you would like to remember. Unfortunately, the book you found was on one of the pages that we do not offer a scraper for. But on the page is an ISBN like on the publisher page of Robert's dissertation. Just highlight the ISBN and use your bookmarklet and all data will be collected. Before you press the button, your browser should look like this:

So, that's all for today and I hope this best practices helps you to save time and collect a lot of references for your work.

Happy tagging

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Feature of the Week: Discussion Statistics Box

This week's post is about a small addition we have made to the sidebar of BibSonomy's discussed-post-pages: a collection of some basic statistics describing discussion and review habits.
As you probably know from your own experiences people tend to have very different approaches when it comes to rating something. Even if they agree by trend in liking or disliking a resource, they might have very different ideas of how to express such an opinion. This makes it particularly hard to objectively compare two ratings - a problem that is known as inter-rater reliability.
For illustration consider some fictional (extreme) examples of BibSonomy users, rating a publication with 4.5 out of 5 possible stars:
  • jock: Jock assigns top scores to everything he doesn't particularly dislike. His rating of a publication with only 4.5 out of 5 indicates that there must be something seriously wrong with it.
  • g.rumpy: For him "I like it" means 2 out of 5 stars. Full score is not even an option and a score of 4.5 probably means, that it's the best stuff ever written.
  • mr.normal: Well, Mr. Normal is very normal and so is his rating distribution.
It is quite clear, that for each of those three the value 4.5 out of 5 means something very different. The new statistics box provides some information that can be used to interpret a user's rating by summarizing his previous ratings. Here is, what the statistics box could look like for our three characters:

The statistics box can be found on the discussed-posts-page of any user, e. g. here for user sdo:
Each box shows the rating distribution, the total number of ratings and the rating average by this user.

Another such box can be found on the general discussed posts page
Here, the statistics cover all ratings to any of the discussed publications or bookmarks displayed by any user.

Enjoy the new possibility to learn what other users might think about resources of your interest.

Happy Tagging!

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.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Feature of the Week: Discussed Posts

"My God, It's full of Stars!" is what you're supposed to say when entering a big black monolith and it's also what you'll probably think when checking out this week's new BibSonomy feature.
Before the summer break we introduced the new review and discussion feature. Now, we have added a page to BibSonomy that gives an overview over all those resources that have been reviewed or commented. You can reach it at or just by clicking the new "discussed posts" link in the menu.
The page lists all the recently discussed bookmarks and publications. To make the overview as concise and discussion-focused as possible, the posts are displayed in a reduced form including the title, the description and of cause the average star rating. The stars also function as link to the resource's discussion page, where you can add your own comments or review.
If you are looking for a contribution by someone in particular, there is a user specific version of the "discussed"-page. E. g. has bookmarks and publications discussed by user hotho. Find a link to these pages in the sidebar of the regular user pages e. g.

You'll reach your personal discussed page in the myBibSonomy menu under the item myDiscussedPosts.

We hope, the new feature will make it easier for you to engage in discussion of the current hot topics of science!
Let us know your opinion and make sure the discussed-page is always "full of stars"!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Release 2.0.18

The Summer break is officially over and thus we have just released BibSonomy 2.0.18.
At our Maven repository you'll find the publicly available libraries.
As announced earlier by Robert, the name handling has been changed to always storing names as "last name, first name".
Further, this release introduces:
  • an autocomplete for the inbox systemTag "send",
  • an autocomplete for the detailed information fields during publication posting,
  • an easy means to normalize your BibTeX keys,
  • another supported filetype for the document upload: .tex,
  • and scraping-support for publication posting from INSPIRE β and Taylor & Francis Online.

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

Happy tagging!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Feature of the week: access your posts in Emacs (with RefTeX)

This week's feature of the week is something for our more experienced users but I guess that applies to many Emacs users anyway. ;-)

For all of you that write their LaTeX files using GNU Emacs I present a small script that simplifies its interaction with BibSonomy.
First, if you don't know and use RefTeX yet, I highly recommend that you give it a try, it's really awesome! I won't go into detail how to activate it, typically something like
; load reftex                                                                                                
(require 'reftex)
; turn reftex on                                                                                             
(add-hook 'LaTeX-mode-hook 'turn-on-reftex)   ; with AUCTeX LaTeX mode
in your Emacs configuration file ~/.emacs should be sufficient.
Adding citations to your LaTeX file with RefTeX is as easy as typing C-c [. Then you can search for appropriate entries using a regular expression.

What I want to show you in this feature of the week is how you can add a script to RefTeX such that each time RefTeX is initialized your BibTeX references are downloaded from BibSonomy. For this to work you must follow the following steps:

  1. Find out which posts you want to use from BibSonomy.
  2. Add an appropriate \bibliography{} command to your LaTeX file.
  3. Write a small shell script.
  4. Tell RefTeX about the script.
  5. Try it!

Find out which posts you want to use from BibSonomy

Let us assume that I am writing a paper about formal concept analysis (fca). So I want to reference publications from my list of fca-related publications that I can get at Since I want all publications in BibTeX format, the file I finally want to have is Notice the modifications in bold print.

Add an appropriate \bibliography{} command to your LaTeX file

Since the script presented later is rather simple, this is related to the posts I want to download, i.e., to the tag fca:
That means the BibTeX file will be named after the tag(s) used to query BibSonomy.

Write a small shell script

Of course, we have done this for you. :-) Nevertheless, you should adopt it to your needs, in particular change the variable BASEURL (e.g., insert your BibSonomy username):


# the file is downloaded on each call of the script - 
# typically on the first call of reftex-citation

# the result for RefTeX: the path to the downloaded file
The script gets as input from RefTeX the string from the \bibliography{} command (if you have several files specified, the script is called for each file). Then, it downloads your posts from BibSonomy using the input as tag of the user jaeschke. The downloaded file is put into the current directory (named after the tag(s)) and its name is returned to standard output (this is what RefTeX expects).

Place the script at some convenient location, let's say /usr/local/bin/

Of course, the script can and should be adopted to your needs. If you have suggestions for improvements, just let us know!

Tell RefTeX about the script

Add the following lines to your ~/.emacs file:
; connect RefTeX with BibSonomy                                                                        
(setq reftex-use-external-file-finders "yes")
(setq reftex-external-file-finders 
   (cons '("bib" . "/usr/local/bin/ %f") 

Try it!

Well, just open the LaTeX file and press C-c [ on your keyboard (for non-Emacs users: Pressing the Ctrl-Key together with "c" and then releasing both keys and pressing "["). Then search for some author name or keyword (e.g., "fca")

and be surprised about the results

You can choose any of the matching posts and the corresponding \cite{} command is automatically added to your document. And the best thing is: all the posts are coming from BibSonomy!

Further reading


The script above always tries to download the entries from BibSonomy - even if you already have one with that name. Here is an updated version that acts only if the requested file name starts with a configurable prefix, in this case bibsonomy_.

# All files with publications from BibSonomy should have
# this prefix - to not overwrite other files.
# query                               

# the first parameter is the file name from the \bibliography{}
# command                                  

# check for prefix
if [ $(echo $FILE | grep "^$PREFIX") ]; then
    # prefix found -> work on

    # remove prefix for tag query
    TAG=$(echo $FILE | sed "s/^$PREFIX//")
    # build path for result file and query URL

    # the file is downloaded on each call of the script - typically on
    # the first call of reftex-citation
    wget -q -O - $QUERYURL > $RESULTFILE

    # the result for RefTeX: the path to the downloaded file
    echo $RESULTFILE

    # just return the file name in case the file is in the current
    # directory                                
    echo $FILE.bib
That means that in the example above we must change in our LaTeX document \bibliography{fca} to \bibliography{bibsonomy_fca}. That's it!

Further improvements will be added to this section.

(Classic) Feature of the Week: Attaching documents to publication posts

One of the most prominent advantages of BibSonomy is that it facilitates the collaborative management of metadata - e.g. author, year or title - of publication posts. While this is very useful within several phases of doing research or knowledge work, possessing the "data" which the metadata is about is crucial as well. In other words: Finding a highly interesting BibTeX entry is worth much more when one is able to locate the corresponding document (e.g. PDF) as well.

As some of you may already know, BibSonomy allows to attach documents to publication posts to keep all relevant information (i.e. metadata and data) in a single place. In order to upload a document to one of your posts within your collection, visit its details page - there you find an option to "Add further documents":
Once you click on "add", you can select a local file (with a suitable file extension) for upload:
When you're done, all existing private documents are displayed. Please note that you can upload further documents as well:
For an easy access to your documents, we display a tiny document symbol next to the publication title (see below); in addition, you can visit the "myDocuments" page, which lists only those publications from your collection which have a document attached:
Because copyright is of course an issue when talking about publication documents, all your documents are private, i.e. accessible only to yourself. An exception are groups: When the group administrator enables this feature, then all the other group members are able to see and download your documents as well.

In any case we hope that this feature makes your publication management life another bit easier and smoother - as usual, we are happy about any kind of feedback and suggestions!

Happy tagging, Dominik

Thursday, September 1, 2011

(Classic) Feature of the week: Posting Publications as snippet

Hello everyone,

this week we learn how to post a publication using a snippet. This is a very comfortable way to post a publication. Just click on post publication and choose the tab snippet.

We can paste one or multiple snippets into the BibTeX/EndNote snippet* box. The visibility of our post is controlled with the viewable for field.

Basically, that is all we have to do. But our snippet importer offers some additional goodies. We can choose to edit before import or to overwrite an existing one.

The best part is the tag capability of BibSonomy. Many snippets already have keyword or tag field as in the following example:

We can use these tags for our import. Since there is no standard for tags and their delimeters, we have to tell BibSonomy our format. Therefore, we have to select the type of tag delimiter from the corresponding drop down menu. We can choose between:

  • ' ' (whitespace),
  • , (somma), and
  • ; (semicolon).
We have to set a sign if we do not use whitespaces as tag telimiter. A '_' is used otherwise. To specifiy our own one, just klick into the text field and remove the underscore and replace it with our own sign.

After we click on the post button appears the next dialog:

It is just a confirmation dialog to be sure that our tags get imported correctly. If everything is fine, we can click on the update button to finish the import.

That is it for this week. Stay tuned and happy tagging!


Friday, August 26, 2011

(Classic) Feature of the week: Posting Publications

Hi everybody!

As we allow ourself a short rest from BibSonomy's strict monthly release cycle, the next few blog posts here will cover some of BibSonomy's basic features. We start this series of "classic" features with describing the process of entering publications into BibSonomy.

Most of BibSonomy's users are using the bookmarklet buttons which allow to automatically extract all necessary meta data from the browser's window. Nevertheless, BibSonomy offers several ways to enter relevant information for a given publication. Today I'll describe the most basic one - namely manual data entry of all required fields.
By navigating to "post publication" in BibSonomy's menu,the input form for entering publication meta information is shown:

We know that entering publication meta information is a tedious work and we try our best to reduce the required steps for successfully filling out all fields. During the manual data entry process, the most valuable support is given by a full-text-search based autocompletion. If you partially enter the title of a publication which is already known to BibSonomy, you can select the corresponding entry from a list of recommendations. All available form fields will be copied and it remains for you to provide the set of appropriate tags:

Stay tuned and happy tagging!


Monday, August 22, 2011

Feature of the Week: Updated mobile interface

Since its first release in May the mobile version of BibSonomy has received some smaller updates. Here they are:
  • Especially on mobile devices typing and retyping user names and passwords can be tedious. Therefore , the login screen now offers a checkbox to choose staying logged in after the session.
  • If you'd like to see the original BibSonomy page on your mobile screen you may use the "Switch to normal view" link in the footer of the mobile layout. Similarly, you can switch back using the "Switch to mobile view" link in the footer of the normal view.
  • Your choice of view is now stored. Thus, once you decide to use the normal view, you'll see that view until you decide otherwise. You won't have to switch to your preferred view each time you visit BibSonomy.
Happy Tagging!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Feature of the week: Supported Filetypes

Some months ago, Stephan presented BibSonomy's enhanced file upload feature which allows you to attach documents to your publication meta data - such as, e.g., a private copy of the paper or your own personal notes. In response to your feedback, we extended the list of supported file types which now encompasses the following file types:
Please let us know, if your favourite file format is not supported.
Once again: Happy Tagging!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Feature of the Week: The Hidden Tag

Not so long ago we introduced Hidden SystemTags. SystemTags are tags, that usually come with a special ability, such as markup (e.g. myown lets one of your posts appear on your cv page) or certain functionality (e.g. send forwards posts to another user's inbox).
Hidden SystemTags are those among them, that are visible only to you who used it, but not to anyone else who might take a look at your posts or tags.

With the last release, we introduced a new such SystemTag that does nothing:
It does nothing? Why use it then? - Well, the feature simply allows you to use private tags. You may use any tag you like with the prefixes sys:hidden: or system:hidden: and no one else will see them.
The sys:hidden-Tag (as any hidden systemTag) is visible to you once you hover with your mouse over the little cog wheel in a post's tag list.

Note, that the hidden tag is not meant to be a privacy feature. Rather, the feature allows to hide tags e.g. organizational-note-tags from publication lists for beautification.
The hidden tags are not visible on tag clouds and post lists, but, you can e. g. query for a certain sys:hidden tag and still find all posts tagged with it. For really private information the private note feature of publications will be the appropirate choice.

Happy Tagging!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Release 2.0.17

Today we updated BibSonomy to 2.0.17. The publicly available libraries are available at our Maven repository.
As always the release included some internal restructuring and clean-up. We also included two new features:
  • The Hidden SystemTag: A tag that is visible only to you: sys:hidden:<mySecretTag>
  • OpenID Quicklinks: We added the three most frequently used OpenID providers as links to our sign-in page.
In August we'll take a (summer-) break from releasing. However, we are already busy developing new features including the restructuring of author and editor names.
We'll also continue to blog about BibSonomy features in our feature-of-the-week series during that time.

The next release is scheduled for September 2011.

Happy tagging!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sort your Bookmark Lists

In June 2011 we presented to you the functionality of arranging your publications by
year, month, day, author, editor, entrytype, title, booktitle, journal, school in ascending or descending order (see blog entry). Now it is also possible to sort bookmarks by date and title. For example if you want to sort all your own bookmarks with the tag localization by title in ascending order, you just need to use the URL parameters sortPage and sortPageOrder.

With sortPage you can control whether you want to sort by title (sortPage=title) or date (sortPage=date). With sortPageOrder you can control whether you want to sort in ascending (sortPageOrder=asc) or in descending (sortPageOrder=desc) order.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A note on problems with Google-based OpenID logins

Recently we got mails from users that can not login to BibSonomy using their Google OpenID. Today we traced at least one of the cases down to a problem with Google's OpenID service.

There are two types of OpenID's Google supports:
There are quite some web pages that discuss the different types (e.g., this discussion, this explanation, or this article) and even more forum posts that describe problems (e.g. this one).

The thing is, that recently the profile page OpenID's cause problems. We were not able to login or register using these at BibSonomy. After trying to find out why this does not work, we found out that the problem is Google itself. Google's profile web pages do not contain a resource descriptor that OpenID4Java can discover. We could not even find one manually. This basically means, that the type of OpenID is broken.

By the way: not only BibSonomy has problems with Google's profiles OpenIDs, other web pages have them, too. We tried to register at Stack Overflow using and got the error "Unable to log in with your OpenID provider: No OpenID endpoint found."

Until Google fixes this issue, we can only suggest to use the other type of OpenID, i.e., to sign in to BibSonomy.

To make this easier, we enhanced the OpenID login page to include quick-links for three major OpenID providers: Google, Yahoo!, and

We will stay tuned with this problem and see, if Google will fix it!

Have a nice weekend and enjoy tagging ...

Update (2011-08-02):

Since last Friday (2011-07-29), we had problems with OpenID login caused by an incorrectly installed SSL certificate. This was fixed today. Thus, OpenID login with providers such as Google, Yahoo! or works, again.

With, however, we still face problems. The reason seems to be that the root certificates for the certification authority uses (StartCom) are not contained in the JVMs truststore (bug entry on openid4java). We imported them manually but this did not solve the problem. We will try to find out what's going wrong.
<update> OpenID with works now. Importing certificates with Java's keytool command is quite cumbersome. It ask's for a password but does not complain that no keystore was specified. :-(</update>

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Feature of the Week: Reviews and Discussion

Two important aspects of working with literature are the process of sharing it among your colleagues and the exchange of ideas and thoughts about it. Facilitating the first aspect - sharing - has always been a core feature of BibSonomy. However, this weeks blog post is all about the second aspect: Discussion!

BibSonomy's new and easy to use discussion feature is your forum to communicate your thoughts about publications and websites quickly to your friends and colleagues. Using the typical thread structure of forums users can add reviews or comments to publication and bookmark posts or reply to previous statements by other users.

Where can I discuss?

If you take a look at any page in BibSonomy with a post list (e.g. home), you'll find a link reading "discussion" right next to each post's copy link and a five star rating below each post. Clicking on either takes you to the discussion page of that web page or publication, that the post is about.
You may discuss about any posted resource (web page or publication) even if you did not post it yourself! Keep in mind, that several posts (e.g. from different users) can be about the same resource. Since the discussions are always about the resources (never about specific posts) the discussion links of such posts all lead to the same discussion.
As an example, take a look at a short discussion about an html5 web page.

How can I discuss?

There are two ways to start a discussion or to add to one. For both of them you will have to be logged in.
  • Reviews: Reviews are designed to let you state your opinion. Each review contains a rating of up to five stars. (Yes, we allow the assignment of half stars and even of zero stars for the worst case!)
    Additionally you can enter some text to explain your rating. You can add at most one review to a discussion. However, you can always edit or even delete your review.
  • Comments: Use comments to enter some text without assigning a rating. Choose to comment on a posted resource directly or reply to previous reviews or comments. Basically, you can comment as often as you like and edit or delete your comments at any time. To create a comment just click the blue create comment button. To comment in reply to another user's statement use the reply link below that statement.
Who can read it?

Both, comments and reviews come with two visibility settings.
  • The first controls the visibility of your user name. If you check anonymous, nobody (except you) will see who made the statement.
  • The second option is similar to the viewable-for option during the regular posting and controls the visibility of the complete review or comment. You can set your statement viewable for anyone (public), for a group or for your friends (other) or only for yourself (private).
Everyone can discuss everyone's posted resources. Thus, the fact that you might own a post which has a rating, does not imply that you where the one rating it.

What do the stars represent?

When writing a review, the stars you assign represent your personal opinion about the publication or web page that is discussed.
The stars displayed next to each post represent the average rating over all reviews. The discussion page also shows a distribution of all ratings. The average also includes the ratings of reviews that have a limited visibility (and thus might be invisible to you).

What should I write?

The discussion feature is intended enable a lively online discussion about published literature and web pages. From a simple one-liner to your full-blown and detailed scientific review everything is welcome.
We hope, that the new feature will facilitate communication and improve the exchange of thoughts and ideas about news, trends and the state of the art in science.

Happy reviewing, rating, commenting, discussing and (as always) tagging!

Release 2.0.16

With some delay, today we upgraded BibSonomy to 2.0.16. We also updated our publicly available libraries at our Maven repository.
We are happy to announce, that this release includes the first version of a new major feature: Discussions and Reviews. We'll go into detail about that in our next blog post. But take a look at the stars you'll now find at the bottom right of every post and the new discussion link under each post.
Furthermore, new are:
  • two new hidden system-tags: sys:unfiled and sys:jabRef:<someArgument>
  • the extended functionality of the URL-parameter sortPage (sorting bookmarks is now possible)
  • more allowed file types for your private document upload.
The next release is scheduled for July 27th.

Happy tagging!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The structure of author/editor names in publications

As many of you have noticed, BibSonomy stores author (and editor) names in the order "First Last", e.g., "Donald E. Knuth".
For most names that is no problem, but there are also names that get broken by this "feature". For example, for the name of our colleague Beate Navarro Bullock the first name is erronously detected to be "Beate Navarro" but it really is only "Beate".

Such names can be handled correctly by storing them in the "Last, First" order, e.g., "Navarro Bullock, Beate" as it is understood by BibTeX and many other publication management systems.

Therefore, we plan to change BibSonomy's person name handling to always store author and editor names in the "Last, First" format.

For you as our users this has the following consequences:
  • Regardless of whether you enter your names in the "First Last" or "Last, First" format, they are always stored as "Last, First".
  • The post publication form and the BibTeX import will support both "First, Last" and "Last, First".
  • BibSonomy's BibTeX export will contain names in "Last, First" form.
  • All input and output of the "REST-API" will be in "Last, First" form.

There are certainly other things that might change and problems that we might find - we will post them in this blog.

We plan to introduce this change in our after-summer relase in September. We would be very glad to hear your comments or problems you expect.

What happened to some posts in our blog?

As you might have noticed, some recent posts (namely, from yesterday, 4th of July) seem to be older. That is true! Yesterday, we cleaned up the tags of our earlier blog posts and thereby also fixed some headlines. Unfortunately, that caused the posts to appear under yesterday's date. So just ignore them or read them again, if you like. :-)

Our next release is scheduled for this week and will include something very new many of you have been waiting for!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Feature of the week: a quick look into 2010

Complementing last week's review of 2009, we briefly look at our roadmap for 2010.

Posting Publications

An all-new redesign of the layout for and the process of posting publication references will be released in the beginning of 2010. We are currently testing the new implementation with a special emphasis on improved usability. With the help of two screenshots we want to give you some insights into the new posting dialogues.

The new entry page for posting without using the bookmarklet consists of four tabs which separate the four different ways of posting references to BibSonomy:
  • manually entering the details for one publication reference,
  • uploading a text snippet which contains references in EndNote or BibTeX format,
  • upload a file with references in EndNote/BibTeX format, or
  • entering a ISBN or DOI and let BibSonomy gather the publication metadata.

In particular the process of posting several publications at once will be improved. For example, you will be able to select which posts should be stored and correct errors. The dialog for posting one reference will be similar to the bookmark posting dialog with the important BibTeX fields title, author, year, etc. on top and the additional fields below the tag and group selection:

Full Text Search

We will migrate our full text search from MySQL to Lucene. This will improve the response time, add boolean search options, and allow you to search for words with less than four characters.

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

As part of our efforts in the PUMA project, we are currently implementing a curriculum vitae page which allows you to show your profile information together with your latest publications on one page. That page can act as an entry page to your scientific work and possibly augment your homepage.

Major Release with improved performance and new features

Good news everyone - since this morning, we have successfully deployed a major new BibSonomy release! Usually, we try keep the release cycles small and release each feature separately; but as we optimized a lot of internal code in the last weeks and months, we built the new features on top of the updated infrastructure and released all of them right now.

All optimizations and new features were powered by PUMA, a German DFG-funded project. The internal migrations onto a more stable and cleaner framework should be transparent for you as our users - the only thing which you (hopefully) might experience is that everything runs faster and smoother. Apart from that, we added or updated the following functionalities (we just briefly describe them for now, and will present more details in followup posts in this blog during the next weeks):
Surely you've experienced the same problem as we did - sometimes you find a bookmark or a publication which is interesting for one of your friends. From now on, you can directly "send" these posts to other BibSonomy users - just add the tag 'send:FRIENDNAME' to the post, and it will appear in your friend's inbox!
CV page:
Another common requirement is that you want to have an easy-to-maintain CV page, featuring your personal details and publications. Have a look at my CV - BibSonomy supports you from now on in this task!
Enhanced filtering methods:
When retrieving posts, you can now add the tag 'sys:entrytype:ENTRYTYPE to filter the publications by their BibTeX entrytype. As an example, the following page shows you all publications of the user 'dbenz' which have the entrytype 'inproceedings':
Automatic DOI-Linking:
If a publication reference contains a DOI, a "DOI" link is now shown in publication lists.
New tag cloud controls:
Now you can limit the number of tags shown in tag clouds to the top x tags only! This feature is activated for all users to the top 50 tags and can be set back to the old behaviour (showing only tags that have a certain minimal frequency) on the settings page.
Improved user interfaces / dialogues:
We migrated several input dialogues onto a new internal framework, which results in an improved usability. Among them are the settings page, the post and edit publicaton page and the batch-editing of tags.
We performed intensive testing of all released features - if you should still encounter some anomalies, we would be highly grateful for any feedback or bug reports - just send us an email to In any case, we hope you enjoy the new features as much as we do!

Feature of the week: TagCloud

Today we are going to present you the brand new TagCloud, implemented in the newest BibSonomy release.
While using BibSonomy your TagCloud grows bigger and bigger and easily becomes unattractive.
To avoid this fact and additionally give you a better view about your most used tags, the new TagCloud will now be able to show only the top X tags of you.
Where X can be set in your settings page and has an default value of 50 (Pic. 1).

Pic. 1: Your new TagCloud settings.

So this means instead of a 2-page long TagCloud, you will have a small and clear TagCloud containing your top tags (Pic. 2 & 3).

Of course you can still use the old TagCloud, if you feel fine with your current TagCloud behaviour and dont want to change it. The TagCloud can be set back to the old behaviour in your settings page by setting
choice of tags to min Frequency.

Let's see it in action:

Feature of the Week: Next steps in BibSonomy

As all of you have probably noticed we are actively working on BibSonomy, releasing constantly new features and improvements. We are not only in the process of developing and implementing new features but we are also discussing the goals and features which we would like to achieve in the next one or two years, triggered by the current projects "PUMA - Academic Publication Management" and "Informationelle Selbstbestimmung im Web 2.0 - Info 2.0" both funded by the German research foundation DFG. With this post we would like to share our ideas with you and we hope for feedback from you. Some of these ideas are more concrete others are relatively vague. So, feel free to comment on all of them.

One of the next features which will be released soon will allow our users to rate bookmarks and publications within the system. We will make this rating information available for external systems like search engines. Thus such information is available to everyone as early as possible – similar to ratings e.g. in results of an online search for hotels. Following this line we plan to add a discussion functionality in form of tweets or comments in the usual way. It is also planed to extend BibSonomy to a full open reviewing system. The idea is to allow everyone to do all kinds of reviews – ranging from a simple comment for a web site to a full blown scientific review for publications.

Another potential direction we are thinking of is the better integration with eLearning systems. We will start with export functions but the plan is to find some way to allow for users of an eLearning system to add new posts to BibSonomy from within their eLearning platform.

With PUMA we started a first clone of BibSonomy together with our university library. It has a slightly different functionality but the core is the same. To be more flexible we will add open social features which will not only allow for a better integration of BibSonomy data into other systems (such as iGoogle, or many of your social networks) but also for a more flexible adaptation of our system's design. Another major feature will be the availability of synchronization options among systems to allow easy accessibility of your and everyones posts from any system (BibSonomy or one of the PUMA instances). We are working an a lightweight version within PUMA but the big solution is the goal we would like to reach in the future.

One current hype comes from the massive use of smartphones. We are thinking of developing apps for the most popular smartphone systems: Android and iPhone. One of the core challenges is the adaptation of the BibSonomy design for the small devices. However, we would not only work on improvements for small screens but also on the design for our regular web site. We are thinking about the improvement of the design and usability of the system in cooperation with professional design and usability experts.

Besides all these new features we will of course constantly work on the improvement of the system's speed, on the improvement of its current functionality and on fixing bugs.

We hope you will like the new features and we are looking forward to your feedback. Please let us know your wishes and we will try to find a way to incorporate them into the system.

Happy Tagging