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    • CommentAuthorbrekhusr
    • CommentTimeJan 31st 2012
    I'd like to see, and am willing to contribute to writing up, a document in the Documentation section that lays out for people the reasons a user might prefer Zotero 3.0 for Firefox or Zotero Standalone.
    Obviously, users who really want to use Zotero on a different browser than Firefox would want to use Standalone, but what other advantages and disadvantages distinguish the two? For instance, is one or the other better if you want full or close to full functionality for Zotero from a mobile device, or does it make a difference? Does one or the other work better for people using multiple computers? Lab computers? People who want to use group libraries? Smoother functionality with Word? Other things?

    I anticipate this question when I teach our regular Zotero workshop this evening (seeing 3.0 up and out of beta was a real surprise this morning!) and in all future conversations I have about Zotero.
    • CommentAuthoradamsmith
    • CommentTimeJan 31st 2012
    I think a document like that would be useful. For the questions you raise specifically, the answer is universally "it doesn't matter". Everything that's database related works exactly the same with the two. Neither works on a mobile app directly and using them with the existing apps like ZotPad and Zandy makes no difference. Word integration is the same, as are groups.

    For someone who is browser agnostic the three key issues are this:
    1. Standalone is somewhat faster and doesn't bog down your browser when it's doing something resource intensive (process a large sync, index multiple pdfs.
    2. Zotero for Firefox still works better to get data from sites. The biggest issue is that the connectors cannot, to the best of my knowledge, properly deal with library proxies, so automatically downloading pdfs and gated full text articles won't work in standalone (that includes, I believe standalone used with Firefox in Connector mode). Also, you don't have some options in the connectors (like Create note and new item from current page) that you have in Zotero FF.
    3. Plugins like Zotero QuickLook or Zotfile can't be installed for standalone.
    • CommentAuthorbrekhusr
    • CommentTimeJan 31st 2012
    Big thanks, Adam Smith! Further comments on this thread are welcome, too, of course.
    • CommentAuthorSimon
    • CommentTimeJan 31st 2012 edited
    Re: 3, plugins can be installed for Standalone (through Tools->Add-ons), and I think the latest versions of Zotero QuickLook and ZotFile are compatible. Other limitations:

    • You can't create notes from text or snapshots from links with Standalone and the connectors.

    • The translate icon context menu is not available from the connectors.

    • You can't print or save reports from Standalone.

    Automatic RIS import isn't available via the connectors.
    Hi there!

    If I can come in here, I found this article praising Zotero's standalone version over the FF add-on as significantly cutting down on FF's RAM (see As I keep getting pop-up messages that FF uses excessive RAM as soon as I open a couple of tabs, I wanted to get rid of that by switching to standalone.

    Now I found this thread and adamsmith explaining that the add-on 'works better to get data from sites'. As this is one of the main functions of Zotero I use, I am a bit hesitant now to switch. Two questions in that regard:

    1) Just to be sure, the effect of cutting down on FF RAM usage is only achieved when installing standalone and UNINSTALLING the add-on, right? I mean, I could not keep both and have the same effect as far as FF RAM usage is concerned (I could picture it as the standalone version possibly doing some of the calculation outside FF so that the effect could also materialze itself when keeping the plug-in all the same).

    2) Could someone just elaborate a bit on how much more 'burdensome' it gets to insert citations from, say, JSTOR into my library when using standalone only? I really like gettind this done with one click in the navigation bar now. I'd figure when uninstalling the FF add-on (to cut down the RAM) things would get much more complicated, right?

    Many thanks,
    • CommentAuthoradamsmith
    • CommentTimeFeb 10th 2012
    1) Firefox will use less RAM if you use ZSA even if ZFF is installed. As long as you don't open the Zotero Pane in FF (which you can't as long as ZSA is running), Zotero has a negligible effect on RAM use. (That said, the defaults of Antivir's RAM use warnings - which I assume you're referring to - are pretty silly. On a modern computer, there is little harm in a program using 300-400MB RAM if it's doing a lot).

    2) As we say all over the place - just try it out. Since the database is shared, the effort involved in trying out ZSA is minimal and there is no risk. There are a couple of things that don't work as reliably with connectors and ZSA, most importantly automatic PDF download, because connectors don't have proxy integration.
    Thanks! (You are right about Antivir, btw ;)
    • CommentAuthorseatrout
    • CommentTimeFeb 12th 2012
    The one thing I really miss on standalone is the ability to save a note at the same time as an item. Is there any chance that this will appear in a later version?
    • CommentAuthorerluck53
    • CommentTimeFeb 15th 2012
    This may be a dumb question, but when I am in Chrome and want to save a web page or article in the browser to Zotero, how do I do it?

    I have used the Firefox version and it is much easier when the Zotero screen pops right into the browser.
    • CommentAuthoradamsmith
    • CommentTimeFeb 15th 2012
    either you have a URL bar icon which works like in Firefox or you right click somewhere in the page and select "Save Zotero Snapshot"
    • CommentAuthorerluck53
    • CommentTimeFeb 15th 2012
    OK. will try. Sorry about the double post.
    • CommentAuthordtoy
    • CommentTimeFeb 16th 2012
    After reading this thread, it sounds like the following complementary uses of Standalone (ZSA) and browser-based (e.g. ZFF) could work nicely:

    1. Run ZSA when I am writing and inserting citations from my library to my word processor--and close ZFF window/tab so it doesn't use Firefox resources.

    2. Close ZSA and use ZFF when I go looking for citations and adding to my Zotero library using my browser.

    Does this sound look a good idea? Obviously I can try it out, but I'm wondering if there's some subtle reason not to do this. Also obviously, it isn't very practical if often going back and forth between those two activities, so compartmentalizing writing vs citation-hunting is best.
    • CommentAuthoradamsmith
    • CommentTimeFeb 16th 2012
    dtoy - yes, that works well. I use that strategy myself.
    @dtoy Isn't the problem with this that you have to enable/disable ZFF in Firefox every time you do the switch? This would be way too annoying for me.
    • CommentAuthoradamsmith
    • CommentTimeMar 4th 2012
    No. ZFF automatically goes into connector mode when ZSA is running.
    Actually, while Zotfile installs in standalone, Quicklook does *not*--here's a summary:


    Item History
    Zotero Scholar Citations

    Although the citations plugin appears not to work anyway in the most recent version..
    • CommentAuthoradamsmith
    • CommentTimeMar 6th 2012
    I have Quicklook installed and working in standalone.
    Make sure you have the most recent version.
    Strange, I get:

    The add-on "ZoteroQuickLook" could not be installed. It may be incompatible with this version of Zotero Standalone.

    Standalone 3.0.3
    • CommentAuthoradamsmith
    • CommentTimeMar 6th 2012
    • CommentAuthormronkko
    • CommentTimeMar 6th 2012
    Which operating system are you using when you encounter the error with ZoteroQuickLook?
    adamsmith: same error message

    mronkko: Windows 7 64-bit ultimate
    • CommentAuthormronkko
    • CommentTimeMar 6th 2012
    I posted an explanation to the support thread here

    Unfortunately I cannot test this at this point since I do not have a Windows computer.
    • CommentAuthormronkko
    • CommentTimeMar 7th 2012
    I posted more info on the main support thread.
    • CommentAuthorclio_13
    • CommentTimeMay 19th 2012
    Apologies for resurrecting this thread - while preparing for a new round on training sessions for Zotero newbies at my institution, I was mulling over the question of explaining the different ways of using Zotero. I have compiled a decisional flowchart (in French, but fairly self-explanatory) which, to me at least, seems to include the necessary info for beginners (I'll include further points, e.g. about printing reports and using plugins elsewhere). What does everyone think? Does this seem sensible advice for beginners?
    • CommentAuthoradamsmith
    • CommentTimeMay 19th 2012
    two things:
    1. The proxy issue is increasingly less important. Most translators already work fully - including pdf import - with the connectors and Simon is continuously improving this
    2. The bookmarklets are coming along nicely - we already have automated translator tests for them, so I'd expect them to be released soon (though I've been saying that for a while) - meaning that people will be able to use IE.
    • CommentAuthorclio_13
    • CommentTimeMay 19th 2012
    thanks - that's really helpful. I'll probably leave it as-is for the first round of sessions we are doing very soon and then remove the proxy-question for the next round and add IE-support as soon as it arrives.
    • CommentAuthorseancmckee
    • CommentTimeSep 18th 2012
    This thread was very useful, thank you all. I thought I'd bump it for any people revisiting Zotero use at the start of the fall semester.

    I also wanted to check on something due to my limited computer knowledge: I need to wipe my HD and reinstall all my data. I've seen references here to Zotero FF and Standalone using the same data directory. I assume this means that by following the backup/restore operations available elsewhere on this site, if I add Standalone following my reinstallation process I should be able to read my old Zotero information (collected in FF) in a newly installed Standalone setup. Is that correct?

    Many thanks!
    • CommentAuthoradamsmith
    • CommentTimeSep 18th 2012
    I assume this means that by following the backup/restore operations available elsewhere on this site, if I add Standalone following my reinstallation process I should be able to read my old Zotero information (collected in FF) in a newly installed Standalone setup. Is that correct?

    yes. I'm not quite sure if you want to restore directly to Standalone or if you want to restore to Firefox and install Standalone in addition, but it doesn't matter - both will work.
    • CommentAuthorseancmckee
    • CommentTimeSep 18th 2012
    Frankly, I'm not sure yet, either. Thanks very much for your help.
    • CommentAuthorbhoconnor
    • CommentTimeJan 12th 2013 edited
    Thanks, super-helpful thread!

    As a recommendation, it may be helpful to have a version of the French decision chart in a few languages in it's own tab, under something like "Which Zotero version is right for you?" It's just a bit hard to figure that out without finding this thread, since it's a little buried....

    And, i have been seriously contemplating abandoning Firefox b/c it has slowed down SO much over time; i'm assuming this must've been b'/c of the Zotero plug-in, based on this thread and the very few FF extensions i have (literally 3, Zotero, Reader and one that allows me to change my browser theme).

    I am a huge advocate of FF and Zotero, so i would hate to see anyone else abandon EITHER b/c they don't understand this fairly nuanced suggestion of combining of uses of both Standalone and the FF plugin--thoughts?
    And, i have been seriously contemplating abandoning Firefox b/c it has slowed down SO much over time; i'm assuming this must've been b'/c of the Zotero plug-in

    Zotero shouldn't slow down your Firefox usage at all. It looks like you're at your Zotero File Storage quota, which, given the way Zotero currently works, may mean that Zotero is performing extra file upload checks each time it tries to auto-sync. (It would also mean you'd be getting a warning telling you that you're at your quota.) If you turn off file syncing in the Sync pane of the preferences (or upgrade to a storage plan, of course), the performance issue may go away. In any case, start a new thread if you want to debug this further.
    • CommentAuthorbhoconnor
    • CommentTimeJan 14th 2013
    Awesome Dan, thanks so much for this and i may touch base after a little test run!

    I'll hope to upgrade for the record if i go onto a PhD, just don't know if i can justify it until then because of low funds (but i definitely think it is a service worth paying for as much as possible, it's such an amazing program!!)
    This thread is wonderfully useful. I should like to see the French flowchart but get a message that the image is private (yes I'm logged into Flickr). How can I see it?
    Hi I'm brand new to Zotero and am still confused about ZFF vs ZSA, even after having read this thread (which seems to focus more on browser issues and not on usage across different computers). I've downloaded ZSA, and have added some sources. But now I'm thinking maybe I should stick with ZFF? My personal laptop is going to need to be replaced soon, and I'm trying to travel more with my iPad & keyboard. Also, I imagine I may come across sources while working on my office computer, which I'd want to add into Zotero. This all makes me think maybe I should use ZFF so that my sources can be accessible to me across different offices/cities. But now that I have sources in ZSA, do I have to re-enter all of them in ZFF?
    • CommentAuthoradamsmith
    • CommentTimeApr 15th 2013
    As I say in my first post
    Everything that's database related works exactly the same with the two. Neither works on a mobile app directly and using them with the existing apps like ZotPad and Zandy makes no difference. Word integration is the same, as are groups.

    that includes syncing across computers
    whether you use ZFF or ZSA has no impact on accessibility across different computers. People get confused by the fact that one is a browser add-on, but Zotero for Firefox is in no way more "online" or "cloud-based" than the Standalone version.
    • CommentAuthorgurdas
    • CommentTimeNov 25th 2013 edited
    adam, referring to your comment from Feb 16th 2012 "dtoy - yes, that works well. I use that strategy myself."

    So, a year and a half later, any tips or warnings for someone who wants to do use the same strategy -> use Zotero Firefox (ZFF) when getting citations from online sources and then switch to Zotero Stand Alone (ZSA) when working on a Word document?
    • CommentAuthoradamsmith
    • CommentTimeNov 25th 2013
    Nothing new - it's designed to work that way and it does & always has.
    While it makes relatively little difference, it's recommended to keep ZSA closed when gathering citations in Firefox - on some few sites you'll get better results, mostly you're more likely to get PDFs attached.
    • CommentAuthoraurimas
    • CommentTimeNov 25th 2013
    So just to be clear, the only reason to use ZFF (and close ZSA) when retrieving citations is if you are using a web-based proxy. This connector limitation is being actively worked on and should not be an issue for very long (hopefully).

    The only reason to not use ZFF and use ZSA instead when working in Word is to make Firefox run smoother. This shouldn't be a problem anyway with relatively small libraries (probably < 5000 references) on a not-too-ancient computer.

    Having said that, switching between ZSA and ZFF should be fairly seamless if you have them configured correctly (i.e. you cannot open Zotero in Firefox and Zotero Standalone at the same time). You would just need to either close or open ZSA.

    There have been some reports of the URL bar icon not showing up in Firefox if ZSA or Firefox are started first (don't recall which), but we never got to the bottom of it, so if you encounter this, please report it and we can further troubleshoot it.
    • CommentAuthoradamsmith
    • CommentTimeNov 25th 2013
    The only reason to not use ZFF and use ZSA instead when working in Word is to make Firefox run smoother.

    oh no it ain't. Actually the main reason to do that is to not have your browser open while you write.
    Jonathan Franzen actually tapes the ethernet port of his computer when he writes. Using Standalone instead of Firefox is the light version of that.
    • CommentAuthoraurimas
    • CommentTimeNov 25th 2013
    Well, that would be the "self-control" reason I suppose. From a technical point of view though...

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