Awesome Open Source
Awesome Open Source


A BibTeX-centric bibliography manager written in POSIX shell

  • Minimal (only require POSIX compliant shell)
  • Search BibTeX on crossref and google scholar (Key press: s, p, w)
  • Create and modify bib file on the fly (Key press: i, e)
  • Automatically and manually rename and encode metadata to pdf file (Key press: B, b)
  • Create and view sublibrary (Key press: R, r)
  • Write notes for BibTeX entry

Table of Content


Search function:


Note function:



The prerequisites for shbib is:

  1. Dependencies including read, curl, sort, pdfinfo, gs, grep, curl, pdfinfo, xclip/xsel/pbcopy (Mac OS)
  2. Create two environmental variables: $BIB and $BIB_PDF_PATH. $BIB is the path to your BibTeX file, and $BIB_PDF_PATH is the path to your pdf directory. You can add these three variables by modifying the paths and running the following pseudo code in terminal:
printf '%s\n' "export BIB='path/to/your/BibTeX/file'" >> $HOME/.profile
printf '%s\n' "export BIB_PDF_PATH='path/to/your/pdf/directory'" >> $HOME/.profile
printf '%s\n' "export BIB_UNI_KEY='Key to access your journals by your university'" >> $HOME/.profile	# Not required

To run shbib, you just need open your terminal, type git clone to download this project, cd to the directory with shbib script, and run shbib by typing ./shbib.

Type ? to understnad the keybinding corresponding to each action:

k/↑ - up
j/↓ - down
l/→ - right
h/← - left
Ctrl-f/PageDown - PageDown
Ctrl-u/PageUp - PageUp
g/Home - go to top
G/End - go to bottom
s - search online by text
p - search online by metadata in PDF file
w - search google scholar by text
c - copy BibTeX entry from your $BIB
o - open PDF file by BibTeX entry
i - insert new BibTeX entry
e - edit existing BibTeX entry
b - manually build database by rename and encode metadata into PDF file
B - automatically build database by rename and encode metadata into PDF file
R - create new BibTeX entry sublibrary
    store at: $BIB_PDF_PATH/Libs
r - open existing BibTeX entry sublibrary
    store at: $BIB_PDF_PATH/Libs
n - write notes for BibTeX entry
    store at: $BIB_PDF_PATH/Notes
/ - search the current page
    default: case-insensitive search
    contain uppercase: case-sensitive search
? - show keybinds

Nice! You are all set!

Dev's note

This project is highly inspired by shfm. The skeleton is borrowed from that project, while the content is optimized from my old project dmenubib.

Writing in POSIX shell is an adventure. What you need to do is to force yourself to NOT use external program , to NOT create sub-shell by command substitution $(), and furthermore, to NOT utilize regular expression but pathname globbing instead. I find a lot of useful technique that can basically replace the usage of sed, awk, and most external program while developing this project. Those technique are:

  1. set -- $var to create the only "array" in POSIX shell, and use for line do ... done to manipulate each item in this array.
  2. Manipulating internal field separator ($IFS) to decide how set -- $var would separate the array. E.g., we can create newline character $nl to force set -- $var to separate each line as an element in array.
  3. case statement globbing matching -> replace sed and awk regular expression matching
  4. Flow control using exit value (ref_search function and shell special parameters $?)
  5. Create a newline and tab character, $nl an $tab, by create a "hard" character:
    tab='	'
  6. Json file manipulation is also possible by pure POSIX shell. Look into shbib for json_pretty_print function for detail information.
  7. Case-insensitive search is done by transforming both searching string adn searched item to lower case, then match them together. Hope someone can provide a more elegant way to do so.

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