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Reference Management Software


Robb B
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I am looking into reference management software, and the two products that seem most full-featured for the Mac are Sente and Bookends. Has anyone used these much? How do they compare? What would you buy, and why? Thanks for any discussion!

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I am looking into reference management software, and the two products that seem most full-featured for the Mac are Sente and Bookends. Has anyone used these much? How do they compare? What would you buy, and why? Thanks for any discussion!

 

 

Rob, you can read my review of Bookends on the SBL forum here: http://www.sbl-site.org/Article.aspx?ArticleId=468

Bookends has gotten even better since then, as I reviewed v.8 and it is now into version 10.

 

Both programs have their strengths and weaknesses. Both work good with Word. Sente works better with Pages and BE does, and Bookends works slightly better than Sente does with Mellel, but that will be rectified at some point by the Mellel developers.

 

I have no doubt that I will actually end up in Sente eventually, but it will take a good effort for me to get all my Bookends stuff into Sente. I like Sente's UI better, its note-taking ability is nicer, and its new links feature and start-with-the-PDF feature make it in my opinion the better choice than Bookends now, despite some shortcomings. I also like its organization in the left column better.

 

However, Bookends is cheaper and it is still a solid program that is stable and fast

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I've been using Bookends for a couple of years now, relying on it for my thesis bibliography. However, I have just bought Sente as I find it to be far easier to use and I can get at the advanced features easily. Both programs are similar in ability, so I would check both of them out. I must say, though, that I am very impressed by Sente!

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I am looking into reference management software, and the two products that seem most full-featured for the Mac are Sente and Bookends. Has anyone used these much? How do they compare? What would you buy, and why? Thanks for any discussion!

 

I've been using Endnote for 2 years, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. However, I did meet someone last year that is writing a major commentary and is using Word + Endnote and he said it works fine for him. As of now it is a necessary evil, as is Word, which I can't wait to get rid of. However, Mellel just isn't quite there yet for me. So, when I switch it will have to be one that works with Word (which both Bookends and Sente do), so it's a toss up. Just now that I've been looking at Sente's site it looks nice.

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What's "not there" about Mellel?

 

The limitation of Endnote, as far as I can tell, is that you are stuck with Word. Sente and Bookends both support Mellel, Nisus, Word, and Pages.

 

I'd have to say that if you are starting from scratch, go with Sente.

 

And a PS, in case you haven't heard of it, check out Skim as well (a PDF reader with awesome note-taking abilities).

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re: Mellel, there's just a few small items that I wish it handled better. One is the footnote continuation separator, i.e. when a footnote extends to a second page, the following page should have a footnote separator that extends across the page. It's not an everyday occurrence that I have long footnotes, but it does occur. Also, the way Mellel handles images isn't ideal. The text doesn't wrap around images, just above and below. Hopefully these are addressed in future revisions. Other than that I love it. It runs so much smoother; the outline feature is great and doesn't act all dodgy like Word does; of course RTL Hebrew. One thing I do like about Word, which I haven't taken the time to see if Mellel does have is the autocorrect feature. There are several words that I constantly misspell and it's nice to have them automatically corrected as I type.

 

This summer now that I don't have any paper deadlines or classes I'll make the switch, thanks for the Sente rec.

 

Thanks a lot for pointing me to Skim, that's exactly what I've been looking for! :)

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This discussion has been very interesting and helpful. It seems like Sente cannot create multiple new references automatically from an online source like Bookends can. Or am I missing something? The help for Sente does not seem very helpful in showing how to use the online tools for generating new book references for my library. Also, it seems the sources for getting information from an ISBN are more complete from Bookends. These are some of my initial observations. Am I missing something, or is this the experience of most users?

 

Another question: What is the number one reason you have purchased a reference manager?

Edited by Robb B
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I'd still be interested to hear about the capabilities in Word 2008's new referencing abilities. I'm using Mellel and Bookends for my dissertation and have nothing extra to write in Word to test it out. But I'm very curious to know how capable it is.

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This discussion has been very interesting and helpful. It seems like Sente cannot create multiple new references automatically from an online source like Bookends can. Or am I missing something? The help for Sente does not seem very helpful in showing how to use the online tools for generating new book references for my library. Also, it seems the sources for getting information from an ISBN are more complete from Bookends. These are some of my initial observations. Am I missing something, or is this the experience of most users?

 

Another question: What is the number one reason you have purchased a reference manager?

 

1) Your question about multiple references, do you mean importing multiple references, like in endnote or RIS format? Sente can do that fine, though Bookends importing is still better than Sente (something i keep mentioning to the developers). Perhaps I am misunderstanding your question though.

 

2) You are right about the Sente help file

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Rob, you can read my review of Bookends on the SBL forum here: http://www.sbl-site.org/Article.aspx?ArticleId=468

Bookends has gotten even better since then, as I reviewed v.8 and it is now into version 10.

 

Both programs have their strengths and weaknesses. Both work good with Word. Sente works better with Pages and BE does, and Bookends works slightly better than Sente does with Mellel, but that will be rectified at some point by the Mellel developers.

 

I have no doubt that I will actually end up in Sente eventually, but it will take a good effort for me to get all my Bookends stuff into Sente. I like Sente's UI better, its note-taking ability is nicer, and its new links feature and start-with-the-PDF feature make it in my opinion the better choice than Bookends now, despite some shortcomings. I also like its organization in the left column better.

 

However, Bookends is cheaper and it is still a solid program that is stable and fast— I think it will always be a bit faster than Sente, (eg. Bookends does "live" searches in the list view). Its global changes ability is also better than Sente, as is its importing ability.

 

Both can handle complex formatting. I created the SBL formats for Bookends, and Sente's developers have asked me to create SBL formats for them as well which I'm in the midst of doing.

 

I don't know much about developing, but I can just "feel" when I am in a cutting-edge cocoa-based program. Sente is that, while Bookends is carbon-based. Sente also seems to have 3 or 4 developers while BE is one person.

 

Hope this helps.

 

 

Would you consider a more in-depth review of strengths and weaknesses of BE and Sente? I am switching to Mac soon and must choose one or the other to complete my thesis. I am planning to use Mellel because of its RTL and then export to RTF (for Word 2007) or PDF to send to my advisor. I have read the entire thread and both of your reviews of BE, but I feel like I am grasping at straws because I don't even understand half of the features you mention, much less know if I will need them. I guess I need to spend more time on this.

 

Also, to everyone, how much do you use online databases/files/PDFs for theological research? Perhaps I just don't have adequate access to these resources, but they have not been that critical yet. Most of my research has been read in printed form (much through ILL).

 

To add to this, I am having difficulty finding a comprehensible and comprehensively organized list of features for each program on their websites. Even a list of features for each would be helpful to me.

Edited by J A Miller
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JA,

It sounds like you are just getting to know bib.management software, so the first thing I would do is download one, or both, of the demo's and play around with him so you can get to know what they do and how they work. Both of them are good products, I just personally like Sente a little better now. At the core, they are doing the same things for you. Organizing your citations, keeping your PDF's and notes on the citations organized, working with a word processor to create your footnotes and bibliography.

 

If you are just getting into Mac, make sure you get to know Mellel as well. Learn to use auto-titles, crossrefs, font variations, and paragraph and character styles. All of that will really help with the whole writing process.

 

One last thing, it sounds like you are in the same boat as me in that you need to have your advisor give you feedback. I would suggest using a.nnotate.com. You can upload PDFs and invite people to make notations on the PDF online. This will save you the hassle of converting to RTF.

 

Hope this all helps a bit

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you for the comments, danzac. Your review of Bookends and Mellel was one of the major factors in my decision to switch from Linux to Mac.

 

Now that I am a confirmed user of Mellel, I would be interested in hearing how exactly Sente is not as integrated as Bookends. Are there extra steps involved in inserting references or generating the bib? I have a license for Bookends (I bought the combo deal) but I haven't put many entries into it yet. I'm about to start the writing stage of a new book, so now is the time to decide.

 

Thanks again!

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  • 2 months later...
JA,

It sounds like you are just getting to know bib.management software, so the first thing I would do is download one, or both, of the demo's and play around with him so you can get to know what they do and how they work. Both of them are good products, I just personally like Sente a little better now. At the core, they are doing the same things for you. Organizing your citations, keeping your PDF's and notes on the citations organized, working with a word processor to create your footnotes and bibliography.

 

If you are just getting into Mac, make sure you get to know Mellel as well. Learn to use auto-titles, crossrefs, font variations, and paragraph and character styles. All of that will really help with the whole writing process.

 

One last thing, it sounds like you are in the same boat as me in that you need to have your advisor give you feedback. I would suggest using a.nnotate.com. You can upload PDFs and invite people to make notations on the PDF online. This will save you the hassle of converting to RTF.

 

Hope this all helps a bit

 

Thanks for the tips and reference to a.nnotate.com.

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  • 3 months later...
Thank you for the comments, danzac. Your review of Bookends and Mellel was one of the major factors in my decision to switch from Linux to Mac.

 

Now that I am a confirmed user of Mellel, I would be interested in hearing how exactly Sente is not as integrated as Bookends. Are there extra steps involved in inserting references or generating the bib? I have a license for Bookends (I bought the combo deal) but I haven't put many entries into it yet. I'm about to start the writing stage of a new book, so now is the time to decide.

 

Thanks again!

 

Another successful evangelistic effort! Thanks, I'm so glad I could help

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  • 10 months later...

 

Both can handle complex formatting. I created the SBL formats for Bookends, and Sente's developers have asked me to create SBL formats for them as well which I'm in the midst of doing.

Hi Danz,

Just wondering if you have finished the SBL format for Sente. Thanks for your effort.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Thank you for the comments, danzac. Your review of Bookends and Mellel was one of the major factors in my decision to switch from Linux to Mac.

 

Now that I am a confirmed user of Mellel, I would be interested in hearing how exactly Sente is not as integrated as Bookends. Are there extra steps involved in inserting references or generating the bib? I have a license for Bookends (I bought the combo deal) but I haven't put many entries into it yet. I'm about to start the writing stage of a new book, so now is the time to decide.

 

Thanks again!

 

Sorry for the major delay in getting back to you :-)

 

Actually BE is better integrated with Mellel

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  • 2 years later...

Kind of got it done. It would need some tweaking. Once Sente updates its journal glossary I will completely move to Sente, which will force me to correct the SBL format and perfect it :-)

 

Hello Danzac

 

Do you have any update on SBL format for Sente? I have noticed that SBL in-citation in Sente 6.5x does not follow the SBL format. Can you give me an explanation?

 

Thank you!

Edited by sgreen
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