WORD automark indexing interferes with Zotero refresh

Report ID: 1990385862

It appears that having an Index in a WORD document prevents Zotero from refreshing the citations properly.

I am using the latest versions of Zotero (5.0.74) and WORD (16.29).

I have a 148-page document with 316 citations and an index created with the ‘auto-mark’ feature. Since it takes about 30 minutes to refresh this document (!), I have turned off automatic refresh. I am running on a 2012 iMac 27 with 3.2 GHz Intel Core i5 processor and 32Gb memory.

To reproduce the problem:
• In the document version with the index in place, press ‘refresh’ in the Zotero toolbar and wait. Zotero eventually produces the (singularly unhelpful) error message “Zotero experienced an error updating your document. Would you like to view troubleshooting instructions?”.
• Delete the index and repeat. Zotero refreshes OK. It is not necessary to remove the marks, only the index table.
The error log provided was made with a reduced version of the original document, produced during step 10, that refreshes in about 4 minutes – designated 190911C. I can provide this document if you wish.

I take the opportunity to repeat previous comments that both error logging and the control of refresh are unsatisfactory in Zotero. To discover the above, I carried out steps 1-10 of the “Troubleshooting errors in word processor documents” procedure. Step 10 is especially difficult since there is no confirmation that the ‘refresh’ button has even been pressed, no indication of how long refresh will take (up to 30 minutes in my case, falling sharply for smaller documents) and no indication when it is finished. To address this last point, I deleted the bibliography before pressing refresh, and then asked Zotero to re-insert it again. I assumed that when the bibliography was inserted (and no error message appears) that the refresh is complete. Is that correct? The whole process took me over 3 hours.

Remedies suggested / requested:
1. A fix for this problem – i.e. inserting an index will not cause Zotero to fail.
2. Advice on what steps can be taken in the meantime (a workaround) to restore the index without causing Zotero to fail.
3. An additional step in the procedure “Troubleshooting errors in word processor documents”, before step 10, that suggests deleting the index, if any.
4. Improvements to the refresh procedure to confirm that it has started, estimate how long it will take to finish, report on progress and warn if the user attempts to close the document before it is finished.
5. A much-improved error-reporting system that immediately pin-points the problem!

While this was a very annoying problem, I remain a fan of Zotero and wish you all the best in improving it for large applications.
  • edited September 11, 2019
    Can you upload a minimal document that fails (e.g., just one citation and index/index mark) somewhere and link to it here?
  • I created a minimal file as you suggested, and was able to reproduce the fault with Report ID: 140866632. However, I do not know how to upload a file to the forum (and Google just gives me references about uploading library documents)? How about email?

  • Can you email it to support@zotero.org with a link to this thread?
  • @AndySymons I have been unable to reproduce the problem with your test document on macOS Mojave, Word 16.29. Can you confirm that you open Zotero and the Word file you send us cold you can reproduce the error? If so, could you produce a Debug ID from Zotero for that operation?
  • the basic problem, that automarking interferes with Zotero refresh, seems to be fixed in the 5.0.89-beta version though I still have a problem that it produces an error message after the refresh is complete.
    I would still like to see a confirmation that refresh is running and a progress indicator!
  • If you're still seeing an error, we'd still want a Debug ID.
  • @AndySymons let's keep the discussion in this thread for the indexing problems.

    As for your suggestions, unfortunately 4 and 5 are unfeasible due to technical reasons.
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