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Zotelo helps you efficiently export and synchronize local databases (bib, rdf, html, json etc) and Zotero collections directly from emacs.

Zotelo can be used in conjunction with any emacs mode but is primarily intended for latex users of RefTeX.


Download zotelo.el and put it into your emacs path. Alternatively, you may want to use the Melpa package archive to install zotelo programmatically. Zotelo package is updated from the upstream branch daily at every commit. If you don't use Melpa and want to give it a try please consider reading the official documentation.

Install MozRepl extension for Firefox and start it (you can also configure it for auto-start).

Though zotelo doesn't depend on RefTex, you would really want it when working with BibTeX. RefTeX comes with AucTeX.

Activate zotelo-minor-mode in latex-mode:

(require 'zotelo)
(add-hook 'TeX-mode-hook 'zotelo-minor-mode)

Similarly you can activate zotelo in org mode if you use it to draft your LaTeX papers.



C-c z c         zotelo-set-collection (also C-c z s)
C-c z u         zotelo-update-database
C-c z e         zotelo-export-secondary
C-c z r         zotelo-reset
C-c z t         zotelo-set-translator

If a file contains any of the following bibliography declarations:

\bibliography{file1, file2, ...}
\zotelo{file1, file2, ...}
\nobibliography{file1, file2, ...}

zotelo exports the associated Zotero collection as a file1.XXX file, otherwise it exports into [current-file-name].XXX. XXX extension depends on the current translator, which is set to BibTeX by default. Use zotelo-set-translator to choose the translator. To set the translator permanently customize zotelo-default-translator variable.

To associate a zotero collection with the current buffer type \C-c z c (zotelo-set-collection). Select *ALL* to export the whole Zotero library (but beware, if your library is big it might take awhile). Now you can use 'reftex-citation (C-c [) to insert citations into your file.

Zotelo uses IDO interface for the collection selection:



After modifying your zotero collection from the zotero interface, update the exported database with C-c z u (zotelo-update-database). This is the recommended way.

Alternatively you can mark the buffer for automatic update with C-c z m (zotelo-mark-for-auto-update). Due to zotero limitations not all changes to the collection are detected. This also doesn't seem to work on Windows (emacs hangs). zotelo auto-updates bibtex files only if zotelo--auto-update-is-on is non-nil (default is nil). You can always toggle it with C-c z T. The minor-mode indicator is "zx" if this variable is nil and "ZX" otherwise.

Multiple Databases and Collections

You can list several files in \thebibliography{...} list. The first file is the primary database which you set with C-c z s and update with C-c z u. All others are secondary databases.

Usually one database is enough, but for some projects you might want to use several zotero collections. Use zotelo-export-secondary (bound to C-c z e) to export any zotero collection into one of the secondary files. You will be asked to select a file and a collection to export. This way you can have as many databases and zotero collections as you want.


If zotxo stoped working for some reason, try C-c z r. This will reset moz-repl connection.

If you get errors or spurious message then switch to *moz-command-output* buffer to investigate. Normally you should see something like

....> ":MozOK:"

Also see the buffer *zoteloMozRepl*, this is a primary buffer where mozrepl outputs it's messages. Normally it should be clean and show only the startup message.

To further investigate your problem. Toggle M-x zotelo-verbose RET and try the problematic C-c z u. If case of an error, go to messages buffer. You should see womething like this:

zotelo message on [Mon Apr  9 18:44:53 2012]
Executing command: 

(moz-command (format zotelo--export-collection-js '/home/vitoshka/works/disposition_effect/disposition.bib' 119))

translated as:

var filename=('/home/vitoshka/works/disposition_effect/disposition.bib');
var id = 119;
var prefs = Components.classes[';1'].getService(Components.interfaces.nsIPrefService).getBranch('extensions.zotero.');
var recColl = prefs.getBoolPref('recursiveCollections');
prefs.setBoolPref('recursiveCollections', true);
var file = Components.classes[';1'].createInstance(Components.interfaces.nsILocalFile);
var zotero = Components.classes[';1'].getService(Components.interfaces.nsISupports).wrappedJSObject;
var collection = true;
var translator = new zotero.Translate('export');
if (id != 0){ //not all collections
collection = zotero.Collections.get(id);
out='Collection with the id ' + id + ' does not exist.';
prefs.setBoolPref('recursiveCollections', recColl);

You can execute this javascript with moz-repl.el. Zotelo doesn't require moz-repl, but the idea is the same -- you must be able to send commands to moz-repl from emacs whatever way.

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