Using Zotero as a bookmark manager!

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Zotero- reference manager AND a bookmark manager

Why not?

Zotero has everything that’s required for a bookmark manager:

  • Ability to save snapshots; attach files of the webpages as PDF’s to the saved links (just press ctrl+P to save the web page as PDF).
  • Plugins like Zotfile make the PDF management a breeze, and I have set up everything on Dropbox (my preferred mode of cloud and file sync).
  • Generates the bibliography on the fly (exporting your citations), if needed.
  • You can’t argue about being free.

I tried everything under the sun, but this set up doesn’t beat the efficient workflows. For example, Paperpile relies on Google Chrome alone, syncing with Google Drive to save PDF’s. It excludes Firefox. I don’t know if it is a stroke of brilliance or monumental stupidity. The development is prolonged- you have PDF annotations (still in beta after 6 months!) from the last time I checked. Of course, I don’t rely on Google Drive, which is a terrible syncing solution and doesn’t fit in my other generic needs.

Likewise, the problems for Readcube Papers. They have attempted to make a decent solution, but the recurring monthly charges are for the “cloud storage”; even if you settle in for USD 5 per month, the subscription can hurt. For someone who’s on a shoestring budget and indebtedness, it doesn’t make any sense. FYI, the bulk-buying of quota space for enterprises doesn’t run into millions of dollars- it is a sunk cost and can be recovered after refarming and refactoring in other users. 20GB may sound a lot, and you are unlikely to run into a wall. Hence you are likely overpaying for Readcube Papers as it doesn’t offer flexibility.

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That’s expensive in the long run. Avoid it! 

Paperpile may detect webpage metadata (like Zotero), but it is not always successful. Since I am likely operating in a vacuum, I doubt if I’d get support. Zotero, meanwhile, has extensive documentation and the common issues are extremely well addressed.

What about Mendeley? I haven’t checked them out as thoroughly but again, I am not keen to pay money.

 

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Seriously, are you going to pay them so much? Please don’t go on the testimonial posted there. You have no means of knowing if it is true! And yes, none of the plans is right for me! 

So Zotero is for me. I have 3 TB of online space (via Dropbox); a virtual ocean and I am at a loss for ideas on how to fill that up.

Zotero also offers the best options for citations. In Zotero, I have synced it to Fastmail WebDav option. Fastmail offers around 10GB of space for files (including possibilities to host your websites, if you want!). That’s enough (more than enough). None of the other online bookmark managers come close to it.

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Zotero’s webdav syncing is “ancient” (and it doesn’t support Dropbox, though there are workarounds. I have WebDav by virtue of having Fastmail). 

I tried out Raindrop.io, but that suffered an issue with payment processing. It utilises FastSpring, which doesn’t honour the two-factor authentication in my country (mandatory for security). I doubt the developer would change it for me. Pinboard is a fantastic tool, but it has ceased development, for all practical purposes.

I can’t argue with the developer because, in my earlier days of penury, the developer had offered for free to me (minus the archiving). I believe that the developer has taken to politics recently and is firing on all cylinders for his personal blog. Venerable service and an excellent recommendation should the development start again.

You should be mindful of the fact that Zotero pushes out the incompatible formats for other services (should you want to reread it). However, I’d be happy to stick with this service for the foreseeable future as it also allows me to generate tagging etc. Plus, tags allow me to search by drilling down into requirements. I obviously prefer something that generates tags automatically.

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Bookends UI- appears dated but I wouldn’t use it. 

Last but not least- Bookends. This is a reference manager for Mac, and the developer has prioritised development for Apple Scripts integration. It suffers from a terrible UI to fetch articles and doesn’t have the convenience of something similar to Zotero connector. I raised the issue several times (in forums/email), but my requirements are different from his development goals. I don’t mind supporting an independent developer, but I’d have to say goodbye to it due to incompatible goalposts. Another reason is that I am actively deliberating to shift back to Linux because Mac has become insufferable. Telegram works cross-platform, and the quality of the new Macs has become from puerile to putrid. While my Mac Air is serving my purpose, but I am keen to explore better alternatives- something that doesn’t gouge me on “accessories”. Buying a Mac is stupidity (unless you have a lot of money). Zotero works on Linux too.

Zotero for the win!