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Released: Apache OpenOffice 4.1.15


Last updated 2008 November 4


Project Tasks
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Developers Welcome


The OpenOffice Bibliographic project (OOoBib) will make it easier for people to store and manage their reference data, to format their documents, and to collaborate with other users.

It will be simple to use for the casual user, but will meet all the requirements of the professional and academic writer.

The features we will build include -

When the project's objectives are achieved, it will be possible to convert a scientific, technical or academic paper from one bibliographic style to an other bibliographic style, such as one required by a journal, simply by selecting the required style convention and automaticity reformat the document to the new style. So far as we know, the only WYSIWYG word processor that provides these features is Nota Bene, it is a good example of the type of Bibliographic and word processing integration we would like to achieve with OpenOffice.

1st Stage, Bibliographic Facility Redevelopment

As our first step, we will implement the internal metadata and API enhancements to enable Bibliographic extensions to OpenOffice such as Zotero, to better interact with OpenOffice. Currently when you insert citation into Writer with Zotero, only the text of the formatted citation is stored in the Writer Document, all the citation metadata resides in the database. If you wish to share your document with the full bibliographic data you would need to package it with a copy of the Zotero database. The aim is to store both formatted citation its metadata in the Writer document. Zotero would be able to retrieve the bibliographic data from the document and when necessary reformat the citations and references tables from the original metadata.

To achieve this we will implement the most simple changes to the OOo Writer core code (the API basic code, and UNO mappings, but not yet the user interface code) necessary.

When these basic functions are built into OOo Writer and are made assessable via UNO, we can then use rapid prototyping development methods to design and build prototype GUI interfaces and bibliographic formatting engines using the Extension Development Toolkit and Smart Tags. We will be able to use any of the programming languages which have OpenOffice bindings and are supported by the toolkit: C++, Java, Python and, of course, OpenOffice Basic. We believe that we will find more developers who can work in these languages than by insisting on C++ code from the start. Also it is much easier to build prototypes using Java, Python and OpenOffice Basic than in C++.

See our development plans on the Developers' Wiki and the list of project tasks below.

We urgently need volunteers to do these tasks. For further details on development tasks go to the Developer Pages

When will this wonderful facility be available ? new We have planned to get meta data support for text objects in Writer in OOo version 3.1 (due April 2009). See feature timeline. Also see a blog on plans for Writer.

But what can I do now ? In the meantime, if you are not happy with OOo's basic bibliographic support, you may like to use some of the third-party bibliographic applications that can work with OpenOffice. See the bibliographic software page for more details. We recommend you use Zotero, which has a OOo plugin to assist with citation management. Other applications are: Jabref, which can inset citations and bibliographies into an Writer documentnew, B3 which can write bibliographic records to a Openoffice Bibliographic text database or Bibus which has good integration with OpenOffice.


The terminology used by bibliographic applications can be confusing, so we have fixed upon the following three definitions:

a short description that points to a fuller description of an information source, or reference item elsewhere, either in a note or a reference list.
reference item
a fuller description of an information source; also called a bibliographic entry or item.
reference list
a collection of references; also called a bibliography.

Bibliographic applications help people manage their reference items and to create formatted citations and reference lists. Publishers, academic and other institutions generally specify detailed requirements of how their documents are to look, including the reference lists and the citations. Citation and reference list formatting is an often tedious and error-prone task, particularly if one has to later change styles. An ideal bibliographic application, then, allows a user to forget about these arcane details and focus on writing.

The collection of bibliographic data (which includes author and publication details) for works cited in a document can also be a tedious and time consuming task and often involves the manual entry of these details into a database. An ideal bibliographic application would simplify or automate this process.

Microsoft has only recently added bibliographic support to Word (version 2007) and the users of this product have had to make use of third-party, and usually commercial bibliographic applications, such as Endnotes and Reference Manager. Workers in many academic and scientific fields have used Latex, and its variants for technical word processing, and this software has its own bibliographic component called 'Bibtext'. OpenOffice does provide basic bibliographic functions, these include; a simple bibliographic database, a process to insert in-text or endnote citations into a document and a bibliographic table generator to produce a reference table of citations formatted as specified by the user. However, considerable improvement is needed for OpenOffice to approach or improve on the facilities provided by the commercial bibliographic products.

More Details, links to -

General information

A detailed list of OpenOffice bibliographic deficiencies.
Bibliographic Software and Standards list
Bibliographic Styles Information on a wiki - please contribute
OpenDocument Fellowship Metadata project
The Importance of Style Manuals. A poetic view
An interview with David Wilson about the Bibliographic Project

Technical information

Overview of Bibliographic project components
Technical Information about the Openoffice Bibliographic Implementation
An analysis of Bibliographic components and their relationships
Writer enhancements needed for OOoBib on a wiki - please contribute
OpenDocument Metadata Use Cases and Requirements document

Developers Needed

The bibliographic project urgently needs developers to help us implement our vision. The bibliographic project team will offer them every assistance. If needed they will also receive support from the Sun Microsystems' OpenOffice developers. See our Developers' Wiki for more details.


First, subscribe to the bibliographic mailing lists that interest you. You could join the or the more technical list. You can become a project member or 'observer' by registering on the members' page. After you have registered up you might consider voting for the Bibliographic enhancement proposals, this may increase its development priority. Go to the voting page and allocate one or two votes to issue number 4260.

Then, scan the archive of the lists you have joined to catch up with what has been discussed so far. Also check our 'Documents and Files' page.

Then you might consider introducing yourself. You could let us know how you found out about the project, what your interests are, and anything else you care to share with us.

The originator of this project is David Wilson. Bruce D'Arcus of the Geography Department of Miami University is the co-project leader. He has a blog. We would be please to hear from you, also please feel free to tell the community about what interests you and what you would like to find in this project.

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