RefDB Homepage

screenshot of php interface

RefDB is a reference database and bibliography tool for SGML, XML, and LaTeX/BibTeX documents. It allows users to share databases over a network. It is accessible through command-line tools, through a web interface, from text editors (Emacs, Vim), and it contains a SRU server. Programmers can use Perl and PHP libraries to integrate RefDB functionality into their own projects. RefDB is released under the GNU General Public License and runs on Linux, the *BSDs, OS X, Solaris, and Windows/Cygwin.

RefDB appears to be the only available tool to create HTML, PostScript, PDF, DVI, MIF, or RTF output from DocBook (SGML, XML V.4.x and V.5.x) or TEI (XML P4 and P5) sources with fully formatted citations and bibliographies according to publisher's specifications.

To learn more about what RefDB can do, please visit the Features page. To see examples of reference data and of bibliographies, peruse the Examples page. The current status of the project and future plans are listed on the Status page.


February 14, 2008

RefDB now has experimental support for RTF bibliographies. RTF (Rich Text Format) is a plain-text format supported by most word processors. Although it is a badly designed mixture of content and formatting (something not unfamiliar to word processor formats), it still has some similarity to markup languages which made it fairly straightforward to add some basic support to RefDB. Both the current Subversion revision and the latest prerelease offer RTF support. See also here for some additional information.

December 26, 2007

Version 1.1 of the refdb-publist package, which provides a simple way to dynamically generate publication lists for your CV or for your annual department report, was updated to work with RefDB 0.9.9. The directory structure has been rearranged for clarity, and the XML skeleton document now uses xinclude instead of entities to pull in the RefDB-generated bibliographies. The documentation is now available online, see here.

November 21, 2007

Version 1.5 of the refdb-elisp package, which provides a RIS editing mode and an integrated authoring environment with direct access to your reference data for Emacs users, was updated to work with the changed internal data representation in RefDB 0.9.9.

November 7, 2007

Version 0.9.9-1 fixes two minor bugs related to the web interface which still rendered the latter pretty useless. First, one of the essential PHP files was not installed by default, and second, the instructions asked you to configure httpd.conf with the wrong directory name. A fixed tarball has been uploaded to the Sourceforge download area, and the online documentation has been updated.

November 4, 2007

Version 0.9.9 is a major improvement over previous releases. Among the user-visible changes, the introduction of a SRU interface (including MODS support) and the complete rewrite of the PHP-based web interface certainly stand out. Digital objects identifiers and other data which were previously hidden as the M1 through M3 RIS fields are now available by individual field names in queries and in bibliography styles, enhancing the formatting capabilities for reference data other than books and journal articles. Moreover, support for the upcoming schema-based versions of TEI (P5) and DocBook (V5.0) is now available, and raw bibliographies are now supported too. more...

July 5, 2007

Version 1.4 of the refdb-elisp package, which provides refdb-mode and ris-mode for Emacs users, now also supports Muse documents. Muse is an authoring environment for Emacs which uses a simple Wiki-like markup and can create a variety of output formats. Among these are LaTeX and DocBook, both of which are supported by RefDB anyway. refdb-mode can now insert <cite> elements directly into your Muse documents, and the Muse publishing functions take care to transform these to proper LaTeX \cite{} or DocBook <citation> elements. Reverse lookup of database entries from Muse documents is supported as well. The latest official Muse release does not yet support the <cite> element, but the shared Arch archive has supported it for a while. If you're tired of typing angle brackets when authoring your documents in DocBook, you may want to give Muse a try. Some more information is here (don't use the patches mentioned there, use Muse from the shared archive instead).

July 3, 2007

The most recent official release 0.9.8-1 has a minor problem in the refdb-init script for users of the sqlite3 database backend. Due to some lines left over from older versions, the script looks for files that do not exist and exits with an error. The quick and dirty fix is simple: please remove the lines 190 through 193 from scripts/, and run make and make install again. The problem has been fixed a while ago, so the newer 0.9.9 prereleases are not affected.

January 14, 2007

Version 0.9.8-1 is a bugfix release with no new features compared to 0.9.8. The addref/updateref/checkref part of the client/server dialog had a bug which would cause refdbc to report an error (randomly and only on some systems) although the command in fact had succeeded. A possible segfault in the checkref command as well as several memory leaks were fixed as well. Finally, bibliographies should no longer stumble over references without any titles. See the download page for further information.

December 7, 2006

Version 0.9.8 offers a boatload of improvements, both for the end-user and for package maintainers. UTF-8 is now the default character encoding for data import and export as well as for the databases. Initial setup and upgrading of refdbd has been greatly simplified by teaching refdbd to handle the upgrading of the main database itself. Other notable changes are the support for a limit:offset argument in the get* commands to limit the number of returned datasets, the support for frequency information, a new checkref command, and the support for multiple personal reference lists. more...

July 16, 2006

Finally there is an updated starterkit archive again. These archives contain the sources of all non-standard libraries and Perl modules as well as the RefDB sources to build a RefDB setup from scratch. This is an easy way to install RefDB on operating systems that lack packages for some or all of the dependencies. See the download page for further information.

July 2, 2006

refdb-svn (formerly known as refdb-cvs) is an updated version of the tool that builds and maintains RefDB from the version control repository. Please see the download page for further details.

June 25, 2006

RefDB version 0.9.7 is available for download. There are lots of minor and major bugfixes and improvements. The most obvious change for first-time users is a setup script that simplifies the tedious task of creating databases and config files. more...

February 5, 2006

A bug was discovered in the client/server dialog of RefDB 0.9.6-pre2 and later, 0.9.6 (release), and 0.9.7-pre1. This bug may cause data loss when retrieving references of a particular size (between 4096 and 4100 byte) by means of the refdbc:getref command. The getnote command and the getbib tool are also affected in a similar way. It is strongly recommended to upgrade to the latest prerelease which fixes this and a few more minor bugs.

December 22, 2005

A new version of the refdb-elisp package is available. Please download it from the Project page. The two Emacs modes contained in the package turn Emacs into a full-fledged frontend for RefDB, allows direct editing and updating of reference, note, and style data, and allows a convenient "cite-while-you-write" kind of authoring of your next book or publication.

November 23, 2005

Cygwin binaries of 0.9.6 are available. Please download them from the Project page.

November 15, 2005

0.9.6 is out. There are lots of new goodies in this release, among others: the client/server protocol was rewritten to improve error reporting and stability. Support for character encodings was vastly improved, multiple UR and L1-L4 per dataset are now supported, extended notes can be kept private, titles instead of author names in bibliographies are now supported, and the documentation was improved and integrated into the sources. more...

November 15, 2005

Diwaker Gupta kindly donated his Ruby client library to the RefDB project. Just like the Perl client module, this library implements the client/server dialog natively and allows to use most of the client commands from Ruby applications. Think Ruby on Rails. The library isn't finished yet and is looking for a maintainer and for potential users. Interested? Drop us a line.

October 23, 2005

Watch refdb-mode in action! There are two new flash demos showing both reference management and citation/bibliography creation with Emacs on the Emacs page.

October 22, 2005

The web page was updated to reflect the changes that will be available in the next release. If you want to preview the upcoming release, please go to the download page and test-drive the new prerelease, refdb-0.9.6-pre3.

May 20, 2005

The FreeBSD port has been included in the FreeBSD Ports Collection. A summary should soon be available on the Ports textproc (text processing/search utilities) page. Meanwhile, there's an entry on FreshPorts. FreeBSD users can now update their ports tree with 'cvsup', and then install RefDB with a single 'make install'.