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CSL Status and Next Steps

So it’s been a few months since version 1.0 of the CSL specification was finally released. Where do we stand now?

Quickly:

  1. We’ve got a completely 1.0-compliant CSL processor in the form of Frank Bennett’s citeproc-js, which is backed up by an extensive test suite. This has just recently been folded into the Zotero trunk code, so should be rolled out to Zotero users in the coming months.
  2. The Mendeley team is also planning to use citeproc-js, though I haven’t heard any update on timeline.
  3. Mendeley has also started work on a WYSIWYG online style creator. This is really important.
  4. Ron Jerome has been working on a PHP port for use in his Drupal biblio module; it’s not done, but he’s made good progress
  5. Sente has support for CSL import
  6. a new app called Peaya has CSL support, though I know no details (in fact, hadn’t ever heard of it until just a bit ago, which bothers me)
  7. Andrea Rossato is updating his wicked fast Haskell implementation to be 1.0-compliant; usable, among other things, with the really nice markdown processor Pandoc
What do I take away from this? That the idea of CSL is gaining traction: that citation styles are too much work to be worth the hassle for every application creating their own language and associated styles, and that users don’t really want to think about citation styling; they want stuff to “just work.”

So here’s my vision of where I’d like to be in another year or two:

  1. “CSL support” is considered an important feature by users
  2. A complete and beautifully functional online CSL creation application is up and running, and the result is an explosion of good, correct, and up-to-date styles. Right now we have a bit over 1,100 the last I checked; I’d like to see this increase to cover virtually all current journal styles. To do this right means it has to be really easy to both create new styles, and comment on and subsequently edit existing styles.
  3. Wide and deep (e.g. fully compliant) support for CSL across a range of applications and application types (online, desktop, etc.). This not only includes correct formatting, but also making it really easy to find and use the styles noted above (and passing around files by email does not count).
  4. I’d also like to see progress on the thorny problem of document interoperability, as well as adding RDFa support to formatted bibliographies for full round-tripping

But there’s still some distance between that idea and the current reality. For one thing, there’s not as much collaboration on CSL among developers as I’d like. Ideally, everyone that implements CSL should have some sort of public commitment to, and benefit from, future CSL development. At minimum, this should involve participating in development discussions. But beyond that, we need people to help with:

  1. web design for the citationsyle.org site
  2. finishing the style creation application and repository (PHP and JQuery skills needed!), and figuring out how best to exploit this in applications
So continual progress, but still a fair bit of social and technical work to do!

One Comment

  1. Erik Hetzner says:

    Congratulations! I look forward to using citeproc-hs with pandoc.