Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Consistent BibTeX formatting

I try not to write BibTeX by hand any more: too easy to introduce errors. So I usually use either DBLP or the ACM digital library to get BibTeX for papers. Sometimes the journal has BibTeX, or some format that can be converted. As an aside, IEEE is extremely lame: you have to login to their digital library even to get a citation !

For the most part, I don't need to go beyond ACM or DBLP, which is great. But here's the problem: their formats are different ! I needed the BibTeX for a recent paper of mine, and found it on both sites. Here's what ACM gave me:
author = {Ahmadi, Babak and Hadjieleftheriou, Marios and Seidl, Thomas and Srivastava, Divesh and Venkatasubramanian, Suresh},
title = {Type-based categorization of relational attributes},
booktitle = {EDBT '09: Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Extending Database Technology},
year = {2009},
isbn = {978-1-60558-422-5},
pages = {84--95},
location = {Saint Petersburg, Russia},
doi = {},
publisher = {ACM},
address = {New York, NY, USA},

and here's what DBLP gave me:
author = {Babak Ahmadi and
Marios Hadjieleftheriou and
Thomas Seidl and
Divesh Srivastava and
Suresh Venkatasubramanian},
title = {Type-based categorization of relational attributes},
booktitle = {EDBT},
year = {2009},
pages = {84-95},
ee = {},
crossref = {DBLP:conf/edbt/2009},
bibsource = {DBLP,}

editor = {Martin L. Kersten and
Boris Novikov and
Jens Teubner and
Vladimir Polutin and
Stefan Manegold},
title = {EDBT 2009, 12th International Conference on Extending Database
Technology, Saint Petersburg, Russia, March 24-26, 2009,
booktitle = {EDBT},
publisher = {ACM},
series = {ACM International Conference Proceeding Series},
volume = {360},
year = {2009},
isbn = {978-1-60558-422-5},
bibsource = {DBLP,}
So as you can see, we have a problem. The formats are not consistent, which means that if I need to get some references from DBLP, and others from the ACM, my references file is going to look very irregular.

Other critiques:
  • I have never understood why DBLP splits up the conference and the paper: with BibTeX, if you cite three or more papers that use the same crossref, the crossref is included itself as a reference, which is just strange.
  • Unless you use double curly braces, capitalizations inside a string get removed, which is mucho annoying: It's "Riemannian", not "riemannian".
  • The DBLP name for the conference is too cryptic: who'd even know what EDBT is outside the database community. On the other hand, the ACM citation is clunky, and is a page-length disaster waiting to happen.
Thoughts ?

Disqus for The Geomblog