Hierarchical groups with duplicated names are actually *working* in JabRef 5.x!

It turns our that JabRef 5.x has more cool features that advertised :smile:

Officially, the current GUI does not support groups with identical names anywhere in the group hierarchy. If you try to create such group in the GUI, you will get a small exclamation mark next to your name and the dialogue’s ‘OK’ button gets deactivated.

But if you save the JabRef BibTeX file and add such group by hand, everything works, and works as expected!

In particular, you can change properties of such groups, move them in the hierarchy, add entries to them… Anything!

There is one feature, though. If you have several groups with the same name, e.g. ‘Computers/Programming/Languages/SQL’ and ‘Data/Management/Languages/SQL’, and add a biblio entry to one ‘SQL’ group, it will magically appear in all other groups as well. But… This is actually cool! It would automate the job which I often do manually, in a tedious and error prone way! This is because you want to group the information using different aspects, and the same paper often belongs to different groups in different hierarchies. Matching these groups by name would be a useful feature.

There is a gotcha, though. One example of the hierarchical groups was ‘Diabetes/Treatment’ and ‘Asthma/Treatment’. In this case adding a paper to one ‘Treatment’ group would also place it to another, unrelated group. Well, in this case I would make group names more specific, e.g. ‘Diabetes/Treatment (diabetes)’ and ‘Asthma/Treatment (asthma)’. Maybe not very elegant, but not very annoying either, and solves the problem. And if you think, the precise group name will be in every entry, which is a benefit.

The cool thing about this functionality is that it is already implemented, no extra work needs to be done. Well, nearly (see below). It retains all good features and design requirements outlined in issue #629; gives a useful functionality (matching groups across the tree), provide a usual tree-like interface, and allow people to do what they need/want.

The only gotcha is that the feature where you add your biblio entry to one group and it mysteriously appears in another place might be baffling at first; but when you realise how it works, I am sure this will be a useful feature.

The only thing what needs to be done for this to work in JabRef is: remove the check that prevents creating groups with the same name. If this check is deemed very important, issue a warning, but do not prevent people from creating such groups. An example how it works right now is presented in the issue #7554

If the community agrees that this is a good thing to do, I suggest to do/will do a feature request:

– Remove the code that forbids creation of two groups with identical name anywhere in the hierarchy, or replace that code with a warning, so that a group can be created anyway if the user wishes so.


Please vote if you support this proposal:

  • I would like to have this feature, too!
  • I don’t care.

0 voters

For programmers: The PR is Allow identical group names by sauliusg · Pull Request #7558 · JabRef/jabref · GitHub.