I have a bib file that I have been using with BibTeX for a number of years. I have now switched to creating my bibliographies with biber and the biblatex package. Every once in a while I need to manipulate a field or add a field into the bib file to get the most out of biblatex. This works fine from a technical stand point. From a user interface vantage, this is an utter failure with JabRef which I use to manage my bib file on Linux. If I add a biblatex specific field JabRef doesn't display it nicely. If I switch JabRef to biblatex mode it doesn't handle my old bib entries well. For example, I run into major problems with the BibTeX year field and the biblatex date field as well as the journal versus journatitle fields.

Is there a GUI that runs on Linux for managing a bib file that has both BibTeX and biblatex fields? I think that at this point I would be comfortable converting my bib file from BibTeX to biblatex. Is there a converter that does this? I am a little worried that this will make importing citations from the web difficult since most publishers still use the BibTeX fields.

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    I tend to find JabRef rather irritating and inflexible, and now use the same text editors (notepad++ on windows, jEdit on Linux) for my .bib files as for my .tex. They're content-agnostic, which is nice when pasting multiple entries in one go, from a scratch file or email that may have extraneous text, and both allow regexp-based find/replace, which you could easily use to add a journaltitle field below every journal field. – Chris H Aug 14 '13 at 10:47
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    It partly depends what you really want. For example, biblatex will treat journal as an alias for journaltitle, so you could just leave this alone (and avoid duplication). On the other hand, if you are happy to switch to biblatex-only working then a text editor is probably the best way to rename the fields. – Joseph Wright Aug 14 '13 at 11:38
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    In JabRef you can rename fields with Search --> Set/clear/rename fields. That will allow you to quickly convert e.g. all journal to journaltitle. – Torbjørn T. Aug 14 '13 at 12:04
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    @JosephWright biblatex treats it as an alias, but JabRef does not. I was hoping that someone with better regex foo than me had a converter. While I could probably figure out how to change journal to journaltitle changing month to a numeric value and then combining with year to form date is beyond me. – StrongBad Aug 14 '13 at 12:49
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    IIRC, you don't need to combine year and month into date. (I never used the month field, however.) – jon Aug 14 '13 at 13:00

My personal preference is for versatile tools, rather than using JabRef (which I find rather irritating and inflexible -- the bibtex vs. biblatex modes issue in the question). I therefore use a decent text editor to maintain my .bib files (namely jEdit, though on Windows I liked notepad++). Any text editor will give you a content-agnostic paste without trying to be clever. For example you may want to manually merge scratch files, or import from a source (such as an email) with extraneous text that you'll need to edit out.

Both the editors above allow regexp based find/replace. This could easily allow adding a journaltitle field after every journal field, for example, or comment out fields based on their value or lack of one.

This approach has served me well as I took the same master .bib file from being only used with bibtex to mainly used with biblatex (I still have to use bibtex as part of the journal submission process).

  • @Johannes_B Thanks for reminding me of the existence of such a list -- I was also surprised no-one had answered it better at the time. – Chris H Dec 18 '14 at 14:47

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