Mendeley 1.0 released Today

Version 1.0 of the reference manager Mendeley was released today. In good Web 2.0 tradition it took three years from the first Beta release to the first “finished” product. I interviewed co-founder Victor Henning back in September 2008, and both the software and the company have gone a long way since then. Congratulations.

Mendeley in 2008. Picture taken from my interview with Victor.

Mendeley has changed reference management in many ways. Most importantly it has added another choice for users, and their constant push for new features has benefitted everybody, including the competition.

The Mendeley software has been downloaded one million times and 100 million papers have been uploaded to the service. Mendeley is no longer the new kid on the blog. With their popularity and size also comes an increased responsibility for the community. On top of my wish list: a decent Citation Style Editor that would also benefit Zotero and Papers 2 users (hacking the XML files is not an option for most people).

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8 Responses to Mendeley 1.0 released Today

  1. Mr. Gunn says:

    Believe me, I know editing CSL is no fun. We’re working on something and the basic interface is done, but it remains a challenge to integrate it into the product. Lots of work yet to do, but now that 1.0 is out, we hope we’ll be able to find the time (and to update the ipad app, too!)

  2. Bruce D'Arcus says:

    As I mentioned on Google+, Simon Kornblith has an interesting proof-of-concept of an idea that, if realized, would be much easier to use than any other extant edior: just copy and paste a formatted example of what you want, and get a CSL style back.

    The problem with a CSL editor is people always start by assuming the users will do all the work.

  3. Martin Fenner says:

    William, I know that this is not easy. But Mendeley has the resources to do it. It would be great if the CSL editor works with, as most users probably just need to find the right style, and only some will use the editor to create or update styles.

  4. Mr. Gunn says:

    It will work with, of course.

    Thanks for sharing that, Bruce, I’ve passed the link along to Steve Ridout and Carles.

  5. Martin Fenner says:

    Bruce, this is an interesting concept, but I wonder how it will handle the more complex citation styles. As discussed before, I would think that a strong citation style repository – ideally with an online editor and integration hooks for reference managers – is the best practical solution.

  6. Bruce D'Arcus says:

    @Martin – the problem is, when you getting into real world complexity (the sort of details that matter in a lot of styles), it’s really hard to do regardless. You can design a UI to precisely represent the CSL model, but it becomes quite difficult (and thus, expensive) to implement, and to use (more time-consuming for users).

    Simon’s approach is also difficult (he doesn’t now account for important missing data). But the thing that’s interesting about what he’s done is that it’s basically like artificial intelligence that matches patterns in the expected output against patterns in the existing CSL styles. So it’s assembling new styles based on the existing styles.

    In any case, I’m strongly in favor of an approach that starts from a high-level, where users somehow tell or show the system what things should look like, and then letting it be smart enough to do the work for them.

  7. adamsmith says:

    Bruce, this is an interesting concept, but I wonder how it will handle the more complex citation styles.

    Martin – as the person who handles most style request, the complex styles aren’t the real issue. If we had a system that dealt with books, chapters and journals (and maybe webpages) for standard hard science and medical journals that would take care of 80% of the style issues. There aren’t that many really complex styles and it’s totally feasible to have volunteers deal with the really complex styles like Chicago, Bluebook, APA, MLA, AAA, MHRA, most of which exist already anyway.

  8. Thanks Bruce and Adam.