Super Reference! Web Haskell-based reference management

Posted on October 14, 2015 by Noon van der Silk

Today I’m announcing a (very) alpha version of my web-based reference management system, super-reference!

Super-reference is a system which:

  1. Reads a bibtex file and lets you search the bibtex entries in it
  2. Provides an interface to open associated PDFs or visit associated links
  3. Maintains a list of ‘currently reading’ PDFs by synching a folder (for me, a dropbox folder)

Here’s a screenshot of the main (only) page:

Super-reference is built around my workflow for getting the latest papers.

A high-level overview of my workflow is:

  1. Find an interesting paper
  2. Obtain the pdf file for this paper, (preferably from arXiv)
  3. Save this pdf on my computer, and get the bibtex data for the file somehow
  4. At some point in the future, be interested in finding this PDF by searching for the title, or browsing through a list

All the while I’d like to maintain a list of “papers I’m currently reading” and have them available on my tablet.

Items 1-3 take place outside of super-reference. My workflow for finding new papers and saving them on my computer is a little specialised, but happily you don’t need to follow this protocol if you want to get utility out of super-reference — you simply need a bibtex file to point it at.

Here’s my new paper obtaining workflow (yours may be different):

  1. Browse SciRate regularly, and “scite” interesting papers
  2. Periodically run scirate3_scaper to bring down all the papers I’ve scited recently, and their bibtex entries
  3. Combine all these bibtex entries ino my One True bibtex file

Using super-reference

Let’s suppose now you have a One True bibtex file called all.bib.

Grab yourself down a copy of the repository by following the instructions to configure it to point to this bibtex file.

Once you have the environment set up you can run a dev server with yesod devel. You will then be able to visit the website! Supposing you pointed the config file at your all.bib file, you will then be looking at all your interesting papers! If there’s a link associated with the entry, a link will be displayed, and if there is a PDF file, clicking on the entry name will open the PDF (with it’s location given by the file entry in the relevant bibtex entry).

You can click the star link to move the PDF up into the “currently reading” section. (Note: At the moment there is no visual indication of this, but it will be shown next time the page loads.)


Currently there is a lot of outstanding work to do on super-reference; but it’s in a working state for me, so I thought I should release it.

If you have any feature requests/improvements/etc feel free to log an issue (or a pull request) over at the repository: super-reference.