Mendeley and Zotero are both bibliography managers used by a wide audience. Both have pros and cons, and I still can’t decide with which one of them I will live long and happy life. Both of them are free, in active development phase, and able to extract PDF metadata.
Nice guides for Mendeley are available here: Mendeley Guides.
- Automatically adds the PDF files from selected directories.
- Renames the files automatically using the extracted paper Author/Date/Paper title
- The renamed files are relocated automatically into a single place (directory).
- Ergonomic interface, without too much buttons to press…
- The information on papers is automatically updated from the users input.
- Metadata extraction is better, and the amount of extracted papers, until the Google scholar locks, is much larger.
- 500MB data storage + 500MB groups storage
- The Bibtex citation key is editable
- Notes pane is horrible: text only, with “bold” and “underline” modifiers. The interesting thing is that it is able to save any sort of information, like images, but you can’t see them in Mendeley. For example if you copy/paste you image into Mendeley note, it is shown as icon, and if you copy/paste your note back to say Word processor, then you see the image as usual.
- Citation count (the number of citations for each paper) is unavailable.
- Limited search function.
- The most important: after a year of a very active phase and impressive progress in the development of the soft (and a lot of praises from the scientific community), Mendeley team have probably decided that this is enough to sell themselves, and the last three months I haven’t seen a single important new feature implemented. Their blog is flooded with hype “how good we are”, “our banquets”, and “spread the word” slogans. I sincerely believe that scientists should respect the work the Mendeley team actually do, and not what they say they do. UPDATE: In the version 1.0 the mostly wanted feature of sub-categories was implemented, but not much beyond this. A crappy notes editor is still my biggest concern.
- Open source
- Subcategories tree of any depth
- Rich text notes
- Citation count available (plugin for firefox version only)
- Any number of attached notes
- Saves web pages, or any sort of information
- The “related” connections between notes and papers
- Advanced search
- Smart categories
- Google scholar locks for a few hours after extracting ~20 papers
- Extraction is not made automatically, but needs user command
- Renaming is not done automatically, but needs user command
- Each PDF file is saved in different random directory
- I just hate the user interface, and how many actions I should do to make it work the way I want.
- 200MB storage only
- The Bibtex citation key is not editable
In conclusion, if Mendeley will add advanced search, and external note editor, I will stick with it. If Zotero will have the level of metadata extraction similar to Mendeley, and it will make all the necessary steps automatically (inserting a new file from the predefined directory, fetching the metadata if available, and renaming this file according to the metadata), then Zotero will win.
Ironically, almost everything I’ve wrote in the conclusion can be solved by a professional programmer say in a few days, but where is he/she?