Why am I still using EndNote?
Why backing up data online?
I deem syncing everything online practically beneficial and crucial to my research. Of course not everyone around me put their important data online. They remember to backup their work routinely and in multiple places offline. I once heard of a PhD candidate who backed up his unfinished thesis on as many as 4 places: two computers and two USB flashes, but 3 of them crashed simultaneously in one day. So the wisdom of backing up things is never being too optimistic on your luck. Considering the worst luck may be the crash of the WWW, straightly put your work online and auto-synced is the safest backup strategy. Fortunately this means not more but less trouble than only syncing your work among numerous offline places which still have higher possibility to crash simultaneously than the crash of the whole Internet.
However, practically the safety of putting things online is reduced to that of putting things on one or two online services, which means only the crash of these services is sufficiently unlucky. So choosing a big powerful service provider is very important.
Things that will become handy when they are auto-synced includes 1) files in my work folders, 2) my big, all-in-one note, and 3) my reference library.
The 1st aim is exclusively met by Dropbox, which I still manage to use even though it’s been censored (blocked) by China. The 2nd aim was previously met by MS OneNote. I sync the my note there by putting its local folder in My Dropbox. However I always hate MS Office of versions later than XP and OneNote only appears in Office version later than 2003. So installing OneNote means I have to install two versions of Office in one machine (XP and 2003) which is far from comfortable. Recently I tried Evernote and soon paid for a premium account. The 3rd aims, reference manager, is still met by EndNote.
Dropbox seem rigorous in stability and bright in its future fate, so does Evernote. I don’t need to worry about its future bankrupt. Anything of Google is also safe from bankrupt too. These are services that are very unlikely to be terminated. People say that cloud storages never crash. The Dropbox and Evernote are also growing and expanding into the only best choices, monopoly among their counterparts, like what Twitter and Facebook now are. Saving data in these services is similarly safe to saving them in the entire Internet.
Why do I tried Mendeley so late?
Martin has talked a lots about the web 2.0 reference managers. I tried some of them, too. Although I have been using a reference manager long enough and will never again meet the tough task of manually adding a lot papers into a database, there are still many people around me who tried a reference manager very recently. Importing records from PDF files is the biggest problem that prevents first-time users of reference managers, and according to Martin’s RM Overview only the Mac-based Papers and Mendeley support this function. As a Windows user if I am asked to recommend a reference manager that people will more likely to try, Mendeley can be my choice over EndNote.
But for my own purpose, having been tried many online reference managers myself, now I am still using EndNote. I had to stop using Zotero when Google Chrome became my default web browser, and Mendeley used to crashe a lots at that time. CiteULike and Connotea don’t support Cite-While-You-Write feature. I heard that it fixed most bugs that cause crashing. But it still have much space to improve.
First, entries that were imported directly by PDF files cannot be too many, or Mendeley crashes. I knew this when trying to watch a folder with 1,147 PDF files by Mendeley. After it imported all the files, the whole program became too slow and responding too discontinuously to be usable.
Second, the customizability is too low. There are many functions I want to work slightly differently. For example sometimes I don’t need it to auto-delete the duplicated entries during importing. And I would also like to configure fields to display in the citation list, which is now fixed as “Authors, Title, Year, Published In” and not customizable. You can’t sort the list by more than one field by ascending or descending order, either. The worst thing for me is: it only support Word 2003 and as I mentioned earlier I hate Office 2003 and later versions.
Why only EndNote is the best?
Designing the best reference manager is very easy: Just be an online and PDF-recognizable version of EndNote!
Why does Zotero only release a Firefox plugin? Why does Papers only support Apple products? And why doesn’t Mendeley tune its database system better and faster? Why not just copy all EndNote’s functions and customizibility?
- I mean EndNote cannot reserved any copyrights of “having these functions” so why cannot other developers see the already successful EndNote? At least as a database a reference manager should support advanced searching and sorting which Mendeley lacks. And specifically a reference manager should allow users to create new citation styles but Mendeley does not. By the way I don’t need to view the PDF in a reference manager because Acrobat Reader is always the best PDF viewer and free for download. One feature that’s enough to make Acrobat the best is: it allows split view, or can someone tell me another PDF viewer that can split the viewing window into 2 halves, so that I don’t need to scroll back and forward between a paper’s main texts and reference lists, figures, tables, etc.? Mendeley does not support split view, at least, and including the PDF viewing function makes the program very unstable and slow.
I’m not blaming Mendeley alone, but using Mendeley as an example to ask why there is no one product that can fill all blocks in Martin’s Overview diagram with its color — given that the entries in the diagram is not hard to thick of before Martin drew the Overview? Having all features can sometimes make a software huge, like MS Office, but this is not the case for reference managers if they are simply online and PDF-recoginzing version of EndNotes.