RefDB implements a convenient way to edit and publish markup documents using bibliographies. The transformation and bibliography creation is controlled by a Makefile in the same directory as the source file. This is fully supported by refdb-mode.
If you want to create a document for use with RefDB from scratch, use the Create Document command. You'll be prompted for a few bits of information. Then RefDB will create a Makefile and appropriate skeleton documents in the desired format. The latter will be loaded into a buffer so you may edit it right away.
By default, the document using the full citation format will be loaded as refdb-mode can handle the link normalization on its own. However, if you have a reason to do so you can configure refdb-mode to load the document using the short citation format.
To add citations to your document, use the appropriate Get References or Get References on Region commands to retrieve the references you want to cite. Then either move point into the reference that you want to cite, or set mark and point to select several references. Use the appropriate command of the Cite References submenu to add the citation(s) to the kill ring. Now switch back to your source document and use C-y to yank the citation in place. The default citation format works with XML documents. If you're editing SGML documents, use the → → menu command to switch to SGML.
It is also easy to do a reverse lookup, i.e. display the references in a citation. To this end, place point somewhere into a citation and run the→ menu command.