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Archive for August, 2005

Endnote and XML?

Posted in Uncategorized on August 31st, 2005 by darcusb – Comments Off

Another year, and another $99 bugfix release from ISI Reearchsoft.

Last night I decided to take another look at Endnote and its XML support. Here’s the thing:

  1. The XML that Endnote creates is itself not valid against their own DTD! I counted 18 errors in the XML exported with demo “Paleo” library, which is astoundingly bad.

  2. The file includes a root element of “xml,” which is not included in the DTD.

  3. Likewise, because the DTD is designed in such a way that element order is crucial, it leaves huge room for exactly these mistakes.

  4. Now try this: export Endnote data as XML, then open the file in some XML editor and pretty print it (e.g. indent the tree). Now re-import the file into Endnote. Guess what: it doesn’t work!!

Sorry ISI, but this is not XML support.

In comments to the above linked article, one poster writes:

The inability of Thomson to deliver a competent version of Endnote for the Mac OSX user may be the single largest reason for the decline of the Mac in the scientific community. Though a great many of us still persist, the truth of the matter is that Endnote in OSX with the latest versions of Office has been largely dysfunctional. At large research institutes such as where I work, scientists must chose the best tool to help them complete a job. Unfortunately, that answer is more frequently found on the Windows platform. I now do all of my writing on an IBM laptop because I need seamless, reliable integration of Endnote with Word. If Apple wants to make a statement of their support for the scientific community, they should buy or license away Endnote for OSX from Thomson and make this product work.

The commenter is right about just how bad an application Endnote has become. I’d say it has become so bad that ISI must be violating some law or another by continuing with its practice of not fixing major problems without forcing users to pay a full upgrade price. Really, if Microsoft was this negligent, my guess is the Justice Department would be all over them.

However, the problem is bigger than ISI and Endnote, and it would be a mistake for someone to try to buy — or blindly copy — the application. I keep saying it, but will repeat: with contemporary open standards and protocols and free software tools, it’s really not that hard to do much better than the commercial alternatives. It just takes a critical mass of people and institutions willing to dedicate some effort or time or money to solving the problems.

Indeed, just this morning someone posted a note to the CiteULike list inquiring about using my CiteProc formating system with the service. That’s exactly the sort of thinking that we need right now! Applications like Endnote are dinosaurs!