Zotero is painfully slow

I recently tried to get a fellow academic interested in using zotero. He tried it out, was impressed with it, but stuck with endnote because he found zotero too slow.
I have been using zotero since the early days, and have realised in light of his comments how I take for granted the slowness of zotero.
I timed a few basic operations. Deleting an item took 12-15 seconds. I was able to perform another operation 19 seconds after typing a single letter on the search box (so "find as you type" becomes a negative feature). When I scrape a URL or search I normally switch to another application as zotero locks up firefox for around 20 seconds.
So, I am relatively happy with the feature set and stability of zotero, but I think that a priority now should be make it faster. Do others have a similar view? I have around 1700 items in my library. I imagine it's quicker with less items.
  • From what I understand, many of these issues are related to issues that can only be addressed when FF3 comes out.

    Check out this thread: http://forums.zotero.org/discussion/2218/

    Note especially the use of double quotes (") before a search. That disables the search as you type "feature."
  • CB
    edited April 28, 2008
    I find the slowness of Zotero a problem too. I had been holding out for the FF3 version. But now Ubuntu 8.04 has moved me onto FF3 beta, and I've installed the zotero dev build, I'm a little disappointed. Searching is faster, but adding new items and deletions can be very slow, and of course FF locks up for the duration. I have recently sometimes found myself not adding or deleting things because I'm flat-out busy, and just don't want to wait that long.

    I have to say, it's made me wonder about alternatives for the first time since Zotero emerged. Though I haven't found anything else that has remotely comparable functionality.

    [edited to remove comments on FF's excessive memory usage, which turned out to happen regardless of Zotero's presence].
  • edited April 28, 2008
    The performance improvements will be in Zotero 1.5. Using Firefox 3 alone won't make Zotero much faster (though it should put an end to data corruption issues). A beta of Zotero 1.5 should be out by June.
  • Right, I'll look forward to trying it out.

    From the perspective of FF as an application platform, it's unfortunate that it's getting so big. It's really at the point now where it's not that suitable for low-end systems. I've been using epiphany and opera a bit lately, and they make a notable difference on my old PIII 512MB laptop.

    Not that that's anything to do with Zotero, really. Except that it is a bit of a hostage to mozilla's state of development.
  • Well, for what it's worth, Firefox 3 should actually be a substantial improvement over Firefox 2 in terms of performance and memory usage.

  • Well, for what it's worth, Firefox 3 should actually be a substantial improvement over Firefox 2 in terms of performance and memory usage.
    Hmm, we'll see. So far I've found Firefox 3 significantly faster on javascript-heavy sites (great for gmail and google reader). But *much* heavier on memory usage, to the point where I find it unusable on a poor little machine like mine (I can't devote half my physical RAM to one app!).

    It is a beta, though, so I'm hoping ...
  • Sounds good - will Zotero 1.04 be available anytime soon?
  • Unless we encounter something unforeseen in testing, this week.
  • I just want to add that I have such a problem with this that I am really thinking of bailing, even though I love Zotero for many reasons. But it is so slow when adding citations in a document -- esp any document with more than 20 footnotes -- that I literally can't write for 1 or 2 minutes. I have quite a few items too, but have moved them into subfolders; it hasn't fixed the problem.

    I'll wait for the next version of Zotero before giving up, but aargh...
  • dan,

    i was waiting on another discussion regarding zotero performance...
    ( http://forums.zotero.org/discussion/2070/openoffice-plugin-too-slow/#Item_20)

    Reading this trail, I understand performance could be enhanced with zotero 1.5 on FF3, but for a "non beta user" ;o-) , that means end of year...
    I have to deliver my memory in june....

    i can finish with a slow version (waiting 30s is not so hard !), but if it's works...

    will the 1.04 release solve the error mTagStart(nTagIndex) = Len(sResultText)" ?

  • I have the latest version of Zotero 1.07 and FF. I have a computer purchased in the last year. My library is 2700 items.
    Adding an item (just reference, no attached files) now takes about 36 seconds
    Deleting an item (just reference, no attachments) about 30 seconds
    Entering a search term about 18 seconds (not using preface of ")
    Moving a downloaded pdf within zotero to link with a reference within zotero - 1min 15 sec
    This is a serious problem for Zotero! - especially as during this time Firefox gets locked up.
    Right now I still use Zotero for capturing references, but I don't ever do any management of them (like deleting duplicates etc) as its just too slow.
    Can others share their experiences – am I especially bad? Is it because of my large library?
    Has the Zotero team considered rolling out a specialised back end database interface for Zotero, separate from FF, for management?
    A reluctant return to Endnote beckons...
  • shane: Those times are not in line with what you should be seeing. What OS are you running, and what are the hardware specs of your machine (CPU, RAM)? Also, are you running Firefox 3.0.1? Have you added any columns to the middle pane?

    In a test library of 3250 top-level items (and another 3800 child items), the operations you list are either instantaneous or take under three seconds on a two-year-old Mac Pro running Leopard, and they're roughly equivalent on Windows XP under Parallels as well. While a Mac Pro is faster than most systems, I wouldn't think you should be seeing such delays on a fairly new machine.

    As a test, you might want to create a new Firefox profile, copy your Zotero data into it, and try a new install of 1.0.7 to verify that you're getting the same speeds. Then install the 1.5 Sync Preview on top of it and compare that as well. The Sync Preview should be substantially faster than 1.0.7 in certain areas, though we still have more optimizations to make.
  • That is an unreasonably long time. Have you deleted & disabled full text indexing?
  • CB
    edited August 24, 2008
    Shane: for comparison's sake, on my *old* thinkpad x300 (1.2GHz cpu, 1GB RAM), with a 3000-item library: adding and deleting take about 10s, quick search 14s, putting a zotero pdf within another zotero item: <1s. This still makes zotero a relatively slow app, but much zippier than in your case.

    No practical help to you, but it does suggest that your very slow speeds might be indicative of a problem with your specific installation more than with zotero itself.

    As an aside, I wonder if <a href="http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080822-firefox-to-get-massive-javascript-performance-boost.html">this is going to be good news for apps like zotero?
  • As an aside, I wonder if [TraceMonkey] is going to be good news for apps like zotero?
    Yes, it should be very good news, though some of the greatest gains for non-math-intensive apps like Zotero probably won't happen until they extend the work to the DOM. (See the Development section on John Resig's TraceMonkey announcement.) I'm not sure if they're planning to get to that for Firefox 3.1.
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