Sunday, June 26, 2011

Google Books plugin for Referencer

I'm going to break this rather long silence with a post on a plugin for Referencer.

Referencer is a GNOME application especially designed for scientists, for it organizes any type of documents BiBTeX can handle, and ultimately allows you to export the whole collection into a single BiBTeX file (see this article @ Wikipedia and the project homepage for more details). Among the capabilities of Referencer there is the possibility of adding references from ID like the DOI code or the arXiv identifier. One feature that is still lacking is that of adding documents from web urls, although you can create an empty reference with only the field "url" filled. Since I'm currently working on my thesis for my Master's degree in Theoretical Physics, I need a plugin that instructs Referencer how to fetch books metadata from a web page containing the description of books. One of such sites is the fabled Google Books and in what follows I'm going to explain why I've chosen this particular site. If you search a book on Google Books, go on its details page (if you're in the preview page, just click on "About this book" on the left) and scroll down to the bottom of the page. There you'll find three buttons that will allow you export the bibliographic metadata in three different format. Fortunately one of such formats is BiBTeX, and Referencer is able to fill a document metadata from a bibtex file. I then wrote a plugin that allows to fetch this bibtex file from Google Books by pasting the address of the book into Referencer.

How to install the plugin:
  1. download the plugin file from here;
  2. put into directory ~/.referencer/plugin (you might need to create this folder);
  3. run Referencer and enable gbooks if not already enabled.

How to use this plugin:
  1. run Referencer and go to menu entry Documents->Add reference with ID...
  2. select Web URL from the dropdown menu
  3. paste the Google Books url in the text field and press OK