Could you please help me on the problem caused by wrong encoding and question about config file?

  1. I use JabRef 3.4 or JabRef 3.5 to open, edit and save my bib file first. After that, if I open the same bib file in an older version JabRef 2.10. The ‘Database encoding’ in ‘Database Properties’ of the bib file will change to ISO8859_1. The original one is UTF8. And if I open the bib file again in the newer version of JabRef like JabRef 3.5, there are lots of unreadable characters in many entries maybe caused by the wrong encoding. I can fix these errors one by one using ‘Get BibTex data from DOI’ in ‘General’ option in the incorrect entries. However, it is inefficient and too slow. Could anybody tell me why this happened and is there any better way to fix this problem?
  2. It seems JabRef has a config file at somewhere. I found that the newly installed JabRef can load the file. For example, if I download JabRef-3.5.jar and open it, it will restore the bib files I opened in older version JabRef, and the options in ‘References’ is the same as the older one. I am wondering whether the config file exist or not? And could you please tell me whether I can copy it to another computer and restore the option without entering them a second time. Furthermore, is it possible to have the totally same config of JabRef without entering the config options on different computer and cross different OS like between Win and Ubuntu?
    Any help would be much appreciated!

A partial answer about config file:
in Options --> Preferences, on the lower left-hand corner, you can export your preferences to a file… and then import these preferences on your other computer.

Regarding your first problem with the encoding in old JabRef versions: At some point the way how the encoding is saved in the file was changed. The new JabRef 3.5 writes % Encoding: UTF-8 while the old JabRef only understands % Encoding: UTF8. Hence this is a problem with the old version. So you essentially have two options:

  1. upgrade the old version to 3.5 and enjoy all the features of the recent development or
  2. remove the dash in the encoding string before opening a 3.5-file in JabRef 2.10. Then even the old JabRef should properly recognize the encoding.

Now coming to your second question about the preferences. JabRef saves all settings in the registry by default. I think there was also an option to always write the preferences to a file. mlep has already explained how you could import/export preferences and so sync the settings of two computers.

Dear mlep,
I have tried export/import config files. It works well. I think it is very helpful and thank you very much! However I still have one more question. I want to use JabRef both on Win and Ubuntu. I opened the config file exported in VIM or npp. I found that some lines of the file which indicates directories may not applicable in both platform or even on two different computers. The items are “fileWorkingDirectory”, “findUnlinkedFilesWD” and many other keys and values. If I export the file on Win and import it on Ubuntu. It seems these lines will not change. What is the effects of these conflicts? Furthermore, it seems the file will have some information about the older version JabRef used. In my case, I used Jabref 2.10 and localcopy plugin before and I found there are many lines contain key=“localcopy*”, here * takes place of any string after localcopy. Is it necessary to modify these lines and please tell me how should I do this?

Dear tobiasdiez,
Thanks very much for your help!
I am using JabRef 3.5 now. However, some time ago, I opened my bib file in 3.5 version and saved it. Then I opened it in 2.10 version and again saved it. After that I found that lots of unrecognizable characters are in some of the entries when I open it again in 3.5 version, because of the wrong encoding. My problem is I cannot get my bib file back. Could you please tell how to fix the wrong entries in JabRef 3.5? It is very frustrating to modify them one by one.
And I have one more question about my second problem. Could you please read them in my reply to mlep and give me some help?
Thanks a lot in advance!

Once the encoding is destroyed, there is nothing JabRef can do to fix it (at least I’m not aware of anything). I think the best way is to open the bib file in a text editor and use the “replace all” functionality to replace bad encodings with the right characters. I’m sorry for the inconvenience.

To be honest, I don’t know if importing a preference file will overwrite all existing preferences. I would expect it does. File based settings (like fileWorkingDirectory which specifies which folder gets open in a “New Database dialog”) do depend on the system. But JabRef should be intelligent enough to fall-back to reasonable default values if some settings happen to be invalid.
Moreover, you don’t need to remove old preference keys (or the ones coming from plugins). JabRef will just ignore them.

Thank you really very much for all your replies! It helps me a lot.