Multilingual Zotero: jurisdictions, and much else

This has been a big month or two for MLZ development, with numerous bugfixes and usability improvements. The progress has me keen to finish the MLZ book that will debut the system to a wider audience, and excited (yes, the e-word, and no pun intended) to put it to use in my own modest research efforts.

Here is a capsule run-down …

General interest

  • Order-of-magnitude speed improvement for large documents (i.e. those with 600+ citations). Thanks for this are due in the first instance to Rudolf Amman for reporting the fault. Simon Kornblith at Zotero is behind enabling revisons to the LibreOffice plugin, for which we should all be grateful. Rudolf deserves special credit for patiently testing early iterations of my own code until the revisions finally came right.
  • Reconfirmed style test suite. Ad hoc style adjustments and changes to input conventions during past months produced some errors in the style suite. These have now been fixed, and the tests refreshed. We now have a sound foundation for moving forward.

Multilingual interest

  • Enhancements to multilingual citation control. The affixes to supplementary multilingual fields in citations can now be controlled via Preferences and Document Preferences. Thanks for this go to Didier Davin, who reported on the conventions of cross-language citation in France (which the old layout was unable to handle). The user community in France has been particularly helpful in bringing multilingual support along.
  • Multilingual document breakage fixed. Working with Didier and students here at Nagoya University on the multilingual enhancement, I discovered to my embarrassment that multilingual parameters were not being retrieved out of saved documents — because the necessary code had never been written. This is now fixed.
  • Right-to-left editing. This was not enabled for item fields, resulting in broken content for fields consisting of a mixture of RTL and LTR characters in an RTL language. The interface will now switch correctly according to the BCP 47 (RFC 5646) language code entered in the Language field. Many thanks to Zotero user seadeer for reporting this fault, and for testing the code iterations that fixed things up.
  • Multilingual creator move-up/move-down fixed. As I discovered when working with data for our faculty website, creators with their supplementary variants were not always treated properly as a unit when using move-up/move-down from the creator label left-click menu. This has been fixed.

Legal interest

  • Jurisdiction input helper. Legal styles in MLZ rely on URN:LEX codes for jurisdictions and international organizations. This works fine once the data has been entered correctly, but there is many a slip ‘twixt cup and lip, and looking up these codes in a table is an awkwardness that we are here to avoid. A right-click over the Extra field will now open a context menu of the nations of the world, and selected international institutions, with sub-menus for federal jurisdictions. The jurisdiction lists are a first draft: the data is housed on GitHub, and I am very much open to revision proposals. This was prompted in large part by recent exchanges with user Isis on the Zotero forums, where the importance of better UI support for manual data entry became clear.
  • Abbreviation lists. The minimal abbreviation lists used for testing are now beginning to fill out. Many thanks to Julia Caldwell for getting the ball rolling on this front through her excellent work on the New Zealand Law style and its companion abbreviation list.
  • Parallel articles. As parallel support now appears to be working reliably for statutes and case reports, I have extended the behaviour to cover serialised journal articles. This does not work for all styles, but those for which it fails cannot be smoothly formatted as collapsed parallels in any case. All in all, it looks happy so far.

As this summary shows, user feedback continues to be the driving force behind quality improvement. My thanks to everyone for their patience, care, and generous optimism. With friends like these, MLZ can look forward to a bright future.

Frank Bennett, in Nagoya

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2 Responses to Multilingual Zotero: jurisdictions, and much else

  1. Maybe I can be of help on the jurisdictions.
    The Olympics provides a nice example of a data federation (The IOC) with contesting “constituent country teams”.
    c.f. Digital Roadmap for Europe (Dr. Brand Nieman)

    This is a bit counter-intuitive. The jurisdictions of the “Fans” are fixed, both before and after the “Games”. This scheme is also based upon ISO 3166, but takes into account that some of the Team objects twist in funny directions. That having been said, other Team Groupings are possible (e.g. UN, UN/CLOS, WIPO, EU, G20, Digital Roadmap for Europe, etc.), I simply need to run the queries (or make you a single data base). WIPO is the biggest list, but even WIPO misses some regions.

  2. admin says:

    Thanks for these pointers. The jurisdiction control list for the reference manager contains codes only for entities (national or multinational) that have rulemaking authority, and are cited with sufficient frequency to justify per-jurisdiction tweaks to citation format. Extensions and amendments to the list will be driven by user citation requirements, to keep the size and complexity of the list under control.

    Frank Bennett, Nagoya

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