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I am running Biber 1.7 (newest) and the matching Biblatex (newest) on AMD64, the distribution is Gentoo with UTF8 locale. The editor being used is Kile and the MWE is compiled with XeLaTeX.

MWE, with added fontspect per egreg's suggestion:

\documentclass{article}

\usepackage{fontspec}
\setmainfont[Ligatures=TeX]{cmunrm.otf}

\usepackage{polyglossia}
\setdefaultlanguage{english}
\setotherlanguages{russian}

\usepackage{csquotes}

\PassOptionsToPackage{style=authoryear-comp, natbib=true, backend=biber}{biblatex}
\usepackage{biblatex}
\addbibresource[datatype=bibtex]{bibliography.bib}
\DeclareNameAlias{sortname}{first-last}

\begin{document}

\nocite{*}

a

\printbibliography
\end{document}

The bibliography file is

@STRING{zhetf = {Журнал Экспериментальной и Теоретической Физики}}

@ARTICLE{Migdal1975r,
    AUTHOR = {Александр Аркадьевич Мигдал},  
    TITLE = {{Фазовые переходы в калибровочных и спиновых решеточных моделях}}, 
    JOURNAL = zhetf,
    VOLUME = 69,
    NUMBER = 4, 
    PAGES = {1457--1465},
    YEAR = 1975
}

I can run XeLaTeX just fine, but when I call Biber on it it stops like so:

stuff@stuff ~/ $ biber mwe
INFO - This is Biber 1.7
INFO - Logfile is 'mwe.blg'
INFO - Reading 'mwe.bcf'
INFO - Using all citekeys in bib section 0
INFO - Processing section 0
INFO - Looking for bibtex format file 'bibliography.bib' for section 0
INFO - Decoding LaTeX character macros into UTF-8
INFO - Found BibTeX data source 'bibliography.bib'

and returns. The output BBL file is empty. What could be wrong with the bibliography file?

This behavior occurs on multiple platforms, actually, including at least Windows 7 and Gentoo.

EDIT: The problem was not that the bibliography doesn't show up in the PDF file, which would have been solved by specifying a Cyrillic font. Rather, the issue is Biber that bails prematurely without generating any output or error messages.

This is the log file produced by biber --debug mwe showing that where it dies without warning (I say "dies" because there is no "..." at the end of the line):

[0] Config.pm:425> INFO - This is Biber 1.7
[0] Config.pm:428> INFO - Logfile is 'mwe.blg'
[75] biber:251> INFO - === piÄ<85> paź 18, 2013, 08:46:45
[75] Biber.pm:333> INFO - Reading 'mwe.bcf'
[143] Biber.pm:607> INFO - Using all citekeys in bib section 0
[143] Biber.pm:675> DEBUG - Adding 'entry' list 'nyt' for section 0
[154] Biber.pm:2997> INFO - Processing section 0
[154] Biber.pm:3118> DEBUG - Looking for directly cited keys:
[165] Biber.pm:3134> INFO - Looking for bibtex format file 'mwe.bib' for section 0
[165] bibtex.pm:179> DEBUG - Caching data for BibTeX format file 'mwe.bib' for section 0
[166] bibtex.pm:901> INFO - Decoding LaTeX character macros into UTF-8
[166] bibtex.pm:776> INFO - Found BibTeX data source 'mwe.bib'
[166] bibtex.pm:860> DEBUG - Cached Text::BibTeX entry for key 'Migdal1975r' from BibTeX file 'mwe.bib'
[167] bibtex.pm:187> DEBUG - All cached citekeys will be used for section '0'
[167] bibtex.pm:355> DEBUG - Source mapping (type=driver, key=Migdal1975r): Entry type is 'article' but map wants 'conference', skipping step ...
[167] bibtex.pm:355> DEBUG - Source mapping (type=driver, key=Migdal1975r): Entry type is 'article' but map wants 'electronic', skipping step ...
[167] bibtex.pm:355> DEBUG - Source mapping (type=driver, key=Migdal1975r): Entry type is 'article' but map wants 'www', skipping step ...
[167] bibtex.pm:350> DEBUG - Source mapping (type=driver, key=Migdal1975r): Entry type is 'article' but map wants 'mastersthesis' and step has 'final' set, skipping rest of map ...
[167] bibtex.pm:350> DEBUG - Source mapping (type=driver, key=Migdal1975r): Entry type is 'article' but map wants 'phdthesis' and step has 'final' set, skipping rest of map ...
[167] bibtex.pm:350> DEBUG - Source mapping (type=driver, key=Migdal1975r): Entry type is 'article' but map wants 'techreport' and step has 'final' set, skipping rest of map ...
[167] bibtex.pm:378> DEBUG - Source mapping (type=driver, key=Migdal1975r): No field 'address', skipping step ...
[167] bibtex.pm:378> DEBUG - Source mapping (type=driver, key=Migdal1975r): No field 'school', skipping step ...
[167] bibtex.pm:378> DEBUG - Source mapping (type=driver, key=Migdal1975r): No field 'annote', skipping step ...
[167] bibtex.pm:378> DEBUG - Source mapping (type=driver, key=Migdal1975r): No field 'archiveprefix', skipping step ...
[168] bibtex.pm:378> DEBUG - Source mapping (type=driver, key=Migdal1975r): No field 'primaryclass', skipping step ...
[168] bibtex.pm:378> DEBUG - Source mapping (type=driver, key=Migdal1975r): No field 'key', skipping step ...
[168] bibtex.pm:378> DEBUG - Source mapping (type=driver, key=Migdal1975r): No field 'pdf', skipping step ...
[168] bibtex.pm:941> DEBUG - Parsing namestring 'Александр Аркадьевич Мигдал'

EDIT 2: I have played around with the bib file and found that the problem is somehow related to the journal name. Biber fails to finish if the journal name is written using Cyrillic. Changing it to something else ("blablabal") allows Biber to finish, while anything containing Cyrillic (for example, author's name) leads to Biber failing. How come?

share|improve this question
    
It seems that you have a problem with yours BibTeX data sources: "mwe.bib" or "bibliography.bib"? –  Paul Gaborit Oct 18 '13 at 9:45
    
egreg was able to use them so the BibTeX source is fine. –  Up-and-coming LaTeX Mastah Oct 18 '13 at 12:40
    
Your two logs shows two different .bib files (or data sources): "mwe.bib" and "bibliography.bib". –  Paul Gaborit Oct 18 '13 at 13:53
    
Yes, that shows the fact that I copied verbatim egreg's suggested solution to see if it magically works, alas it didn't. He switched 'bibliography.bib' to 'mwe.bib', a change that persisted through my later edits. –  Up-and-coming LaTeX Mastah Oct 18 '13 at 18:24

2 Answers 2

You have to declare with fontspec a font that has the Cyrillic glyphs. For instance

\usepackage{libertine}

will do. It mostly depends on the nature of the document, if you have math maybe `

\usepackage{fontspec}
\setmainfont[Ligatures=TeX]{CMU Serif}

The second declaration should be

\setmainfont[Ligatures=TeX]{cmunrm.otf}

if CMU Serif is not installed as a system font. Here's the complete example (where I used filecontents* to make it self contained and not clobber my files).

\begin{filecontents*}{\jobname.bib}
@STRING{zhetf = {Журнал Экспериментальной и Теоретической Физики}}

@ARTICLE{Migdal1975r,
    AUTHOR = {Александр Аркадьевич Мигдал},  
    TITLE = {{Фазовые переходы в калибровочных и спиновых решеточных моделях}}, 
    JOURNAL = zhetf,
    VOLUME = 69,
    NUMBER = 4, 
    PAGES = {1457--1465},
    YEAR = 1975
}
\end{filecontents*}

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{fontspec}
\setmainfont[Ligatures=TeX]{CMU Serif}

\usepackage{polyglossia}
\setdefaultlanguage{english}
\setotherlanguages{russian}

\usepackage{csquotes}

\usepackage[style=authoryear-comp, natbib=true, backend=biber]{biblatex}
\addbibresource[datatype=bibtex]{\jobname.bib}
\DeclareNameAlias{sortname}{first-last}

\begin{document}

\nocite{*}

a

\printbibliography
\end{document}

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
1  
Thanks, but while you clearly are getting it to work, my Biber somehow stops at the same point it did before. In some sense, Biber doesn't need to know what font will be used, so declaring the right font is important and missing in my MWE (i.e., would lead to the bibliography not showing up in the PDF) but is not the reason for Biber finishing prematurely. Why did they call it Biber? Just searching for stuff related to it gives me photos I hoped not to have seen. –  Up-and-coming LaTeX Mastah Oct 18 '13 at 7:40
    
Biber doesn't know or care about fonts, it only deals with the bib data and does no typesetting at all. The name is a little unfortunate if you don't search for "biblatex" in the same search ... –  PLK Oct 18 '13 at 21:02
up vote 0 down vote accepted

The answer turns out to be pretty lame. While egreg was able to generate a file without much trouble it seems, the newest version of Biber available on Gentoo (biber-1.7-r1) was causing me headaches to no end.

What finally worked was changing the format of the bibliography file from the legacy BibTeX format to the new format introduced by BibLaTeX (see here). In this case the sole requirement was that JOURNAL be switched to JOURNALTITLE.

Thus, the following file works for me and solves the problem:

@STRING{zhetf = {Журнал Экспериментальной и Теоретической Физики}}

@ARTICLE{Migdal1975r,
    AUTHOR = {Александр Аркадьевич Мигдал},  
    TITLE = {{Фазовые переходы в калибровочных и спиновых решеточных моделях}}, 
    JOURNALTITLE = zhetf,
    VOLUME = 69,
    NUMBER = 4, 
    PAGES = {1457--1465},
    YEAR = 1975
}

It could be a bug in Biber or somewhere else, because by default Biber should be able to read legacy BibTeX files without trouble.

share|improve this answer
    
There is something very strange then with your installation. That JOURNAL to JOURNALTITLE mapping has been supported by biber for years and your original example works fine for me too. Your Cyrillic issues might be to do with your language environment variables perhaps. See the biber PDF documentation on encoding handling? –  PLK Oct 18 '13 at 21:09
    
The installation is fine, I haven't played at all with what Gentoo does to it so there are tons of people with the same installation. I have looked at Biber documentation and forced encoding to UTF8, without positive results. –  Up-and-coming LaTeX Mastah Oct 19 '13 at 16:29

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