Zotero 5: Citation inserting hell in not so big document

Hello everybody :)
I am using Zotero for over 7 year, from my bachelor, through my master and now on my PhD. It was wonderful journey with helped me (and all my friends, with used Zotero because I told them so :) ) be more productive. But in last month something changed.
I am writing now paper, article is not long, with all citations it has about 13 pages, as for now around 60 references. For some time there is problem: it is not usable if I want to add any new reference. First, it takes minutes to update all numbers after adding anything (and it sometimes crashes). Next, cursor don't go back to place where I added my citation, no it stays where the last one is. And after waiting those minutes, you can forget not only where you were but also more important: what you wanted to write next.

I know, "you should use not numbered style" "use style that do not update references in bibliography". Yeah, but you know: I do chemistry, and all styles that I need to use are numbered. If I use different ones, my document formatting fall apart. This is not an option, to repair everything each time when I send paper to my boss.

And part of those problems were not existing in Zotero 4, I wrote my master with over 150 citations, and everything was OK. Moreover, I checked Mendeley. I hate it, need of their account, poor data retrieval from PDFs and so on. Zotero is better. Was. Something that takes Zotero few minutes (adding citation at very beginning of document, refreshing and renumbering everything) takes Mendely seconds.

For comparison, I've made dummy document, my paper with Lorem ipsum, 59 random references, bibliography and so on. Only problem is that I put to many references in one citation, but from recording below you can clearly see that it is about number of fields not references. My articles with many single references (and fields in the same time), takes few times longer.


I don't know what is problem, but Zotero is not usable at all for me right know. Something needs to be changed in it's engine or method used in word processor.

As I am Linux user, I can choose between JabRef, Zotero, Mendeley (more or less :) ), and I want to stay with Zotero, but as you can see, it is impossible to use it.
  • Would you mind sending the example document to support@zotero.org with a link to this thread?

    Also, have you experienced the speed issues with Zotero 4.0 or is this new with 5.0?
  • Of course. I need to put references more like in my paper (more field show problem even more clearly). Also I think that those issues were not there with Zotero 4, but before sending, I will test it also on older version.
  • I send you this file. Also I checked how it works under Zotero 4: faster than Mendeley. Is it mean that it is regression of some sort? Zotero 5 is not usable in this case at all, and this is not long document.
  • We'll have some updates shortly that should speed this up and stop the cursor from jumping, but in the meantime, could you produce a Debug ID for the insertion that you show in the video?
  • Debug ID: D659931153
  • @adomasven Whatever is causing this, is it limited to Libreoffice or also Word?
  • The cursor jumping is new, but general update speed is the same for me on Zotero 4 and 5. However I have found a way to cut the time a citation update takes in half in LibreOffice, which should come out as an update sometime pretty soon. Word is unaffected by any of this.
  • In my case, Zotero 4 updates instantaneously in the same file, together with reformatting bibliography to another style. Maybe it is also connected with LibreOffice plugin? I checked Zotero 4 with old one.
  • I've just tested this with Zotero 4 and the old plugin. If you insert (Arjona 1999) at the start of the document it produces a full refresh of all references, which was just as slow with Zotero 4 as it was with 5 for me.

    It is also not clear, that Mendeley is that much faster - you can see the references updating on the page and that goes on in further pages, but there's no progress-bar indicating when the update is actually finished. That said, there are performance improvements for Zotero LibreOffice plugin in the pipeline.
  • I'm very sorry, but I can not agree with you. I've made test on few computers, my friends from group. Problem is there, on i5, i3, i7, 4 or 16 GB of ram. SSD and HDD. This problem is only on Zotero 5, on different versions of ubuntu and Debian. Zotero 4 don't have problems.
    Proof on video: addition of two references on the beginning of file,

    Zotero 4 (https://youtu.be/6HZArcDv97g) → 5s from hitting enter, through addition, renumbering and reformatting Bibliography to closure of progress bar.

    Zotero 5 (https://youtu.be/4JFwcr5KoBU) → over 1 minute 48 seconds.

    Something is wrong as hell, and I personally don't know what. You can clearly see that it is not my imagination.

    I hope that this can be repaired. Going back to Zotero 4 with all changes in Firefox and so one is not an option, and Mendeley is just horrible. I love Zotero, and I want it to be something, that tell my friend to use. And as for now, it's just not an option :/

  • Do you know what versions of LibreOffice these computers are running?
  • edited November 18, 2017
    LibreOffice (Zotero 4)

    Ubuntu 14.04 LTS
    Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

    Zotero 5.0.25
    Zotero 5.0.23

    Display Manager: Unity (as in Ubuntu), GnomeShell
  • https://www.zotero.org/support/system_requirements specifies "LibreOffice 5.2 or later" as a requirement for the Zotero LibreOffice plugin. So at least on the one I would recommend upgrading LO.
  • Yeah, I wonder if is a typo. I don't think Zotero should run on that at all.
  • Oh sorry, my bad, this was one where I run Zotero 4.

    I'm open for any testing, especially that Zotero is with me for so many years. I don't want to change it to something else :)

    @adomasven , @bwiernik I suppose that difference in speed between versions is clearly visible. Problem is that I don't have Windows machine to check, if this is linux specific or LibreOffice.
  • Sorry, I'm confused — can you update your above post with the correct version numbers?

    You're saying that you're using different versions of LibreOffice? Because that's a much more likely explanation of the speed difference.
  • As soon as it is possible (probably Monday), I will check of Zotero 4 on newest LibreOffice just to be sure if this is reason of speed difference. It should not be, one of our computers have libreoffice 5, Zotero 4 combo, and person working on it didn't know what I'm talking about, when I asked him about speed problems.
    Still, on test file (videos in my posts) I can reproduce problems on more than 3 computers. I only want Zotero to be usable for me and others :)
    I hope that I can help with pining this nasty problem.
  • I've been testing with Ubuntu 17.04 and LibreOffice myself. It does seem from the debug log you've provided that each text change is taking nearly a second on your machine. On mine (and in the video you produced with Zotero 4) each text change takes about 150ms. It is not clear what's causing it, but it is very unlikely that Zotero 5 would have changed this at all, since we've barely touched the plugin code.

    You really need to the test on the same computer, otherwise it's not clear whether we're debugging Zotero or computer speed problems. Since the slow part seems to be the extension running within LibreOffice, you can try installing the old version into LibreOffice (double-click or use LibreOffice Extension Manager) and seeing if that changes anything.

    Otherwise we should be able to cut the citation update speed in half in the next update for Zotero 5 within days.
  • edited November 19, 2017
    It is me again :)

    My bad with testing. It is problematic, because I can not test on other people computers (they need them). But now, I have something that maybe would be useful.

    Zotero 4, LibreOffice 4: Instant addition of reference (video above)
    Zotero 5, LibreOffice 5: Very slow addition on multiple different computers, jumping cursor

    And now...

    Zotero 4, LibreOffice 5: Very slow addition of references, like in case of Zotero 5, but... no jumping cursor.

    Zotero 5, LibreOffice 5 but with old Zotero plug-in: Very slow addition of references as expected but no jumping cursor!

    It seems that jumping cursor is connected with changes in Zotero plug-in, but slow reference reprocessing/addition is connected with changes in LibreOffice itself. In the same time, Mendeley works with speed of Zotero 4 in LibreOffice 4, that means super fast.

    Maybe this would be more useful from my side. I hope we can make it work super fast again :)
  • The latest update of Zotero 5.0.28 should have fixed the cursor jumping, by the way. You might need to restart LibreOffice after the update.

    We'll have some small speed improvements soon for LibreOffice, but for the reported slowdown, we'd need to make sure that you have a test computer that is fast with Zotero 4.0 and slow with Zotero 5.0
  • @adomasven Then i still wait for this update :)

    Yes, I tested this now on three computers, and problem is independent from hardware: Zotero is not Crysis, It should not need 4 cores, 8 threads and 16 GB of RAM to work smoothly. And on computer with those specs, i never had problems with Zotero 4, and i have with Zotero 5. From my experiments in my previous post, it seems that between LO 4 and 5 something changed under hood of LO itself, and this is destroying performance.
    It is a pity that I don't have other machines, because who know, maybe this is Linux specific. If anybody could check this on Windows and MacOS with LO4 and 5, it would be also very helpful.
  • Err.. Sorry, I meant the latest update of Zotero 5.0.27*, which is out already.

    Testing on macOS is unreliable because LO5 has introduced a lot of macOS specific slowness -- it's slow even without Zotero. Either way, if you are convinced this is a difference between LO4 and 5, you can try reporting it to the document foundation on their bugtracker. We'll do our best on our end, but we can only make the plugin as fast as LibreOffice lets us.
  • Yay! Small victory! No more jumping XD

    But I had small problems with updating (add-on did not upgrade automatically, and Zotero did not update it in its folder, I needed to download fresh archive from website).

    I will aks guys on LO bugtracker, maybe there would be able to say where to search for problem in Zotero → LO Communication. I will write here if I would know anything ;)
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