How to proceed with the development of the Docear4LibreOffice add-on?

More than half a year ago, we started a call for donation to pay a freelancer who wanted to develop an add-on for LibreOffice and OpenOffice, comparable to Docear4Word. Originally, we estimated that it would take about 2 months before the work was completed, or at least a decent demo version was ready to released. Well, that estimate wasn’t quite precise – the developer hasn’t finished even an alpha version yet. In addition, we are still missing a significant amount of donations to fully pay the developer ($1,000 are missing).

The question arises, how to proceed? We see the following options:

1. Just wait 

The freelancer is still working on the add-on. So, most likely he will finish the add-on some day – maybe in 2 months, maybe in 6 months, maybe in a year. However, I have to point out that my satisfaction with the current progress and outcomes are not overwhelming. Personally, I have some doubts that the final add-on will meet the quality expectations I have, and that probably most Docear users have.  However, I suggest you get an idea of the add-on yourself. The freelancer sent me a demo version that you can try out. To do so, download the add-on, store it on your hard drive, and open the downloaded file with LibreOffice or OpenOffice. This should open an installation dialog, and you need to confirm all messages in the dialog. After the installation, you should restart Libre/OpenOffice. If you are using OpenOffice, you will have a Docear entry in the menu and in the tool bar (see screenshot below). If you are using LibreOffice, you will only have an entry in the menu.


Howto: Import references from webpages (e.g. PubMed, IEEE, ACM, …)

Compared to several other reference managers, Docear lacks a feature to directly import references from the Web. For instance, if you visit the detail page of a research article on a publisher’s website, you might wish to directly import the bibliographic data of that article to Docear. Many publishers offer export options for reference managers such as Endnote, RefWorks, or Zotero. So, how do you do it with Docear?

Fortunately, Docear uses the BibTeX format to store references. BibTeX is a de-facto standard for references that is supported by almost any publisher and any reference manager. So, read on to learn how to import bibliographic data from web-pages in two steps!


Docear 1.1.1 Beta with Academic Search Feature

As you may know, Docear features a recommender system for academic literature. To find out which papers you might be interested in, the recommender system parses your mind maps and compares them to our digital library with currently about 1.8 million academic articles. While this is helpful and might point you to papers relevant for your general research goals, you will sometimes have to find information on a specific topic and hence search directly.

Based on our knowledge about recommender systems and some user requests, we decided to implement a direct search feature on our digital library. I am very grateful to Keystone, who supported me in visiting Dr. Georgia Kapitsaki at the University of Cyprus (UCY) in Nicosia for a full month to work on this idea. Dr. Kapitsaki’s has already supported us in our work on Docear’s recommender system in July 2013. Her knowledge about the inner mechanics and her ideas on the the search engine were essential for the implementation and the research part of the project.

How to use it

You can access the search feature from Docear’s ribbon bar (“Search and Filter > Documents > Online search”) or by double-clicking the “Online search” entry in Docear’s workspace panel. Since both the recommender system and the personalized search engine make use of your mind maps. you need to enable the recommendation service in Docear.

Screenshot from 2014-07-07 15:19:39

After opening the search page, you will see

  • a text box for your search query,
  • a “Search” button, and
  • several buttons below the text box reflecting search terms you might be interested in. If Docear does not have enough data to decide about your interests, this part remains empty.



Docear’s new workspace and workflow concept: We need your feedback!

In the past years, Docear evolved to a powerful software for managing literature and references. However, we have to admit that Docear is still not as user friendly as we would like it to be. This is mainly caused by the workspace concept which is not very intuitive. We are aware of this problem and we would like to fix it. Therefore, we spent the last weeks with a lot of brainstorming and discussions, and we came up with a new concept. We believe it to be more intuitive, and more similar to the concepts you know from other reference managers. In the following, we would like to introduce our ideas for the new workspace concept and some other changes and we ask you for your feedback. Please let us know in the comments if you like our ideas, and how we could make the concept even better.

This is how the new workspace panel would look like after you freshly installed Docear and sorted a few PDFs including annotations (click the image to enlarge it).

There are four main categories in the workspace panel (left).