Title: Lifetime Bibliography

Published: 2020-05-20 11:40

Author: Rev. Fr. Robert Bower


layout: blog


One of the things I wish I had done years ago was create a catalog of things I have read, viewed, or listened to. A bibliography of things I have digested over my lifetime. In order to mitigate that I am currently working on creating a catalog of my library. If you are old like me it brings up mental pictures of a large wooden cabinet with many an index card filed away. Well the one I am working on is electronic. My system is a simple bash script. I can run the script enter an ISBN number, the script goes out to the Internet, grabs the bibliographical information and insets into a Bibtex file.

What is a Bibtex file and why do I use it over something else?

First and foremost a Bibtex file is a structured plain text. I have been using computers since 1980 and programs have come and gone but plain text format is still here. Anything you want to keep for years and go back to should be plain text. I remember the days when Word Perfect had the market locked down and their format was the standard. Now Word Perfect is a small segment of the market and the file format they use now is not compatible with the format they used back in the day. Does anyone remember Lotus 123? Binary file formats come and go. So for data that you may want for twenty to forty years should be in a file format that is based on plain text.

Bibtex while an old file format is still used today by many of bibliography managers. Is it the best format? Maybe, maybe not but it is very convenient to use because so many tools can read it, including humans. It common use is the reason I chose the Bibtex file structure over something else. I could be replaced in the future. But even if it is, since the file is plain text it would only take a simple SED command or AWK script to put it in the right format. Off the soapbox.

Now to the script.

The script is very simple the first part of the script creates an url. The url is for www.ottobib.com. You can provide the site with an ISBN and it will give you the bibliography entry for the matching ISBN in your requested format. The second part of the script uses xidel to extract the bibloigraphic information from the web page and appends it to my Bibtex file.

Please feel free to use at your own risk.

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