Archive for the 'News' Category

A Unified Zotero Experience

Since the introduction of Zotero Standalone in 2011, Zotero users have had two versions to choose from: the original Firefox extension, Zotero for Firefox, which provides deep integration into the Firefox user interface, and Zotero Standalone, which runs as a separate program and can be used with any browser.

Starting with the release of Zotero 5.0, Zotero for Firefox and Zotero Standalone have been replaced by a single standalone application for users of all browsers. A new Zotero Connector for Firefox, similar to the extensions available for Chrome and Safari, allows saving to the Zotero application or in a single click.

the Firefox toolbar on an Amazon webpage showing a book icon and a tooltip saying Save to Zotero (Amazon)
Saving to Zotero from the Zotero Connector for Firefox

If you’re using Zotero for Firefox, you’ll soon be offered the new Zotero Connector for Firefox, which provides the same save button in the Firefox toolbar that you’re used to. You’ll then need to install the standalone Zotero application — either 4.0 or 5.0 — to access your data. Going forward, instead of clicking a Z button in the Firefox toolbar, you’ll open Zotero like any other program on your computer. The Zotero application offers the same interface and runs off the same database as Zotero for Firefox, so you’ll be able to pick up right where you left off.

If you’re already using Zotero Standalone, you can continue using Zotero as you were before — with some new features available in the Zotero Connector for your browser.

We know that many people rely on Zotero for Firefox, so we wanted to take a moment to explain why this is happening and what it means for the future of Zotero.

The primary reason for this change is technical, and, unfortunately, out of our control: Mozilla is discontinuing the powerful extension framework on which Zotero for Firefox is based in favor of WebExtensions, a new framework based on the Chrome extension model. WebExtensions offer many advantages, including improved browser performance, improved security, a fine-grained permissions model, and the ability to create a single extension that runs in both Chrome and Firefox (as we’ve done with the Zotero Connector). The trade-off is that it’s no longer possible to create an extension like Zotero for Firefox that affects the browser in more profound ways (adding an entirely new pane or tab, creating native-looking windows, adding options to the open/save dialog, etc.) or that uses low-level features of Firefox to manage a database, access the filesystem, or run local programs.

But while we’re not able to continue offering the full version of Zotero for Firefox, we think that this change will ultimately benefit the Zotero ecosystem going forward. The Zotero interface will no longer need to fit into a small browser pane, allowing for a much richer user experience. Offering a single version will mean that documentation and instruction can be greatly simplified. And most importantly, Zotero developers will be able to spend less time maintaining separate versions and responding to Firefox changes and more time improving Zotero for everyone.

In the lead-up to Zotero 5.0, we’ve worked hard to add features that were previously available only in Zotero for Firefox, such as institutional proxy support, to the existing Chrome and Safari connectors and the new Zotero Connector for Firefox. Those changes are documented in a separate post. As Mozilla and Chrome add additional capabilities to their extension frameworks, we’ll continue to add new features to the connectors.

When we launched Zotero a little over 10 years ago, the Firefox extension framework allowed us to create a new type of research tool that lived where people worked, in the browser itself. Today, we think we can offer the best of both worlds — unparalleled extensions for every browser, all connecting to a powerful standalone app. While it’s tough to say goodbye to the original version of Zotero, we couldn’t be more excited about Zotero’s future, beginning with Zotero 5.0. Here’s to the next 10 years.

Zotero 5.0

We’re delighted to announce the release of Zotero 5.0, the next major version of Zotero and the biggest upgrade in Zotero’s history. Zotero 5.0 brings many new features, as well as a huge number of changes under the hood to improve Zotero’s responsiveness and stability and lay the groundwork for other big developments coming soon. We’ll be highlighting some of the new features in upcoming posts, but for now see the changelog for more details on all that’s new.

Download Zotero 5.0 now to get started with the new version.

If you’re already using Zotero Standalone 4.0, you’ll be offered the choice to upgrade within the next few weeks, or you can update now via Help -> Check for Updates. (Windows users may wish to reinstall from the download page instead to rename the program from “Zotero Standalone” to “Zotero”.) Your database will be automatically upgraded to work with the new version.

If you’re using Zotero 4.0 for Firefox, be aware that Zotero 5.0 now runs only as a standalone application, and a new Zotero Connector for Firefox replaces the full Firefox extension. We’ve written a separate post explaining this change. Existing Zotero for Firefox users will be offered the Zotero Connector for Firefox within the next few weeks and will need to install Zotero 5.0 to continue accessing their Zotero data locally. If you install Zotero 5.0 now, be sure to install the Zotero Connector for Firefox from the download page as well.

Thanks to everyone from the Zotero community who has helped test Zotero 5.0 over the last year and get it ready for today. We’re excited to finally share it with the world!

Indiana University Survey of Zotero Users

As part of a grant funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to analyze altmetrics and expand the Zotero API, our research partners at Indiana University are studying the readership of reference sources across a range of platforms. Cassidy Sugimoto and a team of researchers at IU have developed an anonymous, voluntary survey that seeks to analyze the bibliometrics of Zotero data. The survey includes questions regarding user behavior, discoverability, networking, the research process, open access, open source software, scholarly communication, and user privacy. It is a relatively short survey and your input is greatly appreciated. We will post a follow-up to the Zotero blog that analyzes the results of the survey. Follow this link to take the survey.

A Better “Save to Zotero” Button in Chrome

It’s now easier than ever to save webpages and PDFs from Google Chrome to Zotero.

(Note: If you use Firefox, you already have these features. If you use Safari, stay tuned — you’ll be getting the same features soon.)

Previously, when Zotero’s Chrome extension found high-quality data to save on a webpage, it would display an icon in the Chrome address bar. For webpages where it couldn’t detect any data, you could right-click on the page and choose “Save Page to Zotero” to add a basic webpage item and snapshot to Zotero.

In the latest version of the Chrome extension, it’s now possible to save any page to Zotero with a new, permanent button in the Chrome toolbar:

Hovering over the new save button on a New York Times article

When high-quality data is available, the new button will show the same icon as before: newspaper, journal article, folder, etc. On all other pages, you’ll see a gray page icon, and clicking on it will create a basic webpage item and snapshot in Zotero. Hovering over the icon will tell you which translator, if any, Zotero would use to save the page.

In addition to combining the existing save functionality into a single button, the updated Chrome extension adds two new features previously available only in Firefox:

On some webpages, Zotero can save data using multiple translators, but up until now it hasn’t been possible to choose a secondary translator from Chrome. You can now right-click (ctrl-click on a Mac) on the new save button to see additional options for saving from the current page, including saving as a regular webpage instead of using a translator.

Right-clicking on the new toolbar button to show Wikipedia, DOI, and Web Page as possible saving options

Secondary translators may provide different data for the page itself or data for other sources referenced in the page (for example by DOI, as in the Wikipedia example above).

If you’d prefer to hide the new icon, the same options are available by right-clicking on the page background.

You can also now save PDFs to Zotero with a single click:

Saving a PDF from the new toolbar button

Previously, saving a PDF to Zotero from Chrome required dragging from the address bar into Zotero or saving the PDF to disk and adding it to Zotero manually. Now, when you’re viewing a PDF in Chrome, simply click the new toolbar button to save the PDF as a top-level attachment in Zotero. You can then right-click on the PDF in Zotero and choose either “Retrieve Metadata for PDF” or “Create Parent Item” to create a full bibliographic item. (In an upcoming version, Zotero will attempt to create a parent item for you automatically.) You’ll need Zotero Standalone 4.0.29 or later to save PDFs from the new save button.

Finally, note that, despite the new button, a couple previous limitations haven’t changed. When data is detected on a page, the appropriate icon won’t appear until the page has completely finished loading — before then, you’ll see the gray webpage icon. When data isn’t detected, saving a webpage item and snapshot requires Zotero Standalone to be open — Zotero will warn you if it’s not. Direct-to-server saving of webpage items will be added in an upcoming release.

If you have the latest version of Chrome installed, you should be updated to version of the Zotero Connector automatically. If you’re not currently using Zotero with Chrome, you can install the extension from the Chrome Web Store. Either way, make sure you’ve installed Zotero Standalone for the best experience.

Studying the Altmetrics of Zotero Data

In April of last year, we announced a partnership with the University of Montreal and Indiana University, funded by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, to examine the readership of reference sources across a range of platforms and to expand the Zotero API to enable bibliometric research on Zotero data.

The first part of this grant involved aggregating anonymized data from Zotero libraries. The initial dataset was limited to items with DOIs, and it included library counts and the months that items were added. For items in public libraries, the data also included titles, creators, and years, as well as links to the public libraries containing the items. We have been analyzing this anonymized, aggregated data with our research partners in Montreal, and now are beginning the process of making that data freely and publicly available, beginning with Impactstory and Altmetric, who have offered to conduct preliminary analysis (we’ll discuss Impactstory’s experience in a future post).

In our correspondence with Altmetric over the years, they have repeatedly shown interest in Zotero data, and we reached out to them to see if they would partner with us in examining the data. The Altmetric team that analyzed the data consists of about twenty people with backgrounds in English literature and computer science, including former researchers and librarians. Altmetric is interested in any communication that involves the use or spread of research outputs, so in addition to analyzing the initial dataset, they’re eager to add the upcoming API to their workflow.

The Altmetric team parsed the aggregated data and checked it against the set of documents known to have been mentioned or saved elsewhere, such as on blogs and social media. Their analysis revealed that approximately 60% of the items in their database that had been mentioned in at least one other place, such as on social media or news sites, had at least one save in Zotero. The Altmetric team was pleased to find such high coverage, which points to the diversity of Zotero usage, though further research will be needed to determine the distribution of items across disciplines.

The next step forward for the Altmetric team involves applying the data to other projects and tools such as the Altmetric bookmarklet. The data will be useful in understanding the impact of scholarly communication, because conjectures about reference manager data can be confirmed or denied, and this information can be studied in order to gain a greater comprehension of what such data represents and the best ways to interpret it.

Based on this initial collaboration, Zotero developers are verifying and refining the aggregation process in preparation for the release of a public API and dataset of anonymized, aggregated data, which will allow bibliometric data to be highlighted across the Zotero ecosystem and enable other researchers to study the readership of Zotero data.