Zotero group libraries and Dropbox

Hi, I have been enjoying using Zotero myself, and I would really like to use Zotero to collaborate with my colleagues.

Ideally I would like to store the PDF file (only the PDF and not the other files) in a folder in Dropbox, so that my colleagues can see/edit them.

I have installed ZotFile and changed the base directory to the Dropbox folder. I can perfectly link Zotero items with the PDFs stored in a Dropbox folder. However it works only for items in My Library, but not for Group libraries. For the Group libraries, it seems like that it always creates a PDF file in the local disks even if I changed the "Base directory" to the Dropbox file. Does anyone have solution for this? Thanks a lot! - FJ
  • edited March 5, 2021
    Linked files can't be used within group libraries, because there's no way to guarantee that other group members would have access to the same file location.
  • Thank you very much @dstillman for your answer. But my other group members do have access to this Dropbox folder. Can this make it possible to link files in Group Libraries?
  • Right, in your case, but the concern in terms of the design of Zotero is that it's an error-prone workflow that would prevent groups from just working for everyone out of the box, or working via the web library at all, resulting in a worse experience for many people.

    Someone did contribute code to set a linked-attachment base directory on a per-group basis a while back. There were some unrelated technical reasons why that couldn't be merged, and it may be in the future, but there are also good reasons not to support this.
  • I agree with @FWA that this would be incredibly valuable. Wouldn't a message to users counter the potential for errors/confusion?

    I really hope i've misunderstood something here. What do people in groups do in this case? If we can't have attachments in the group then it is extremely limiting.
  • you can have attachments, you just need to use Zotero storage for them to sync.
  • edited 8 days ago
    .
  • There are absolutely good reasons for linked files to not work in groups: just linking files would just break links because they'd be different, so you'd have to have base link directories, but they'd likely have to be set at the group level, which in turn creates UX issues. Setting up relative links is also significantly more error prone, which means the overall user experience would be worse and there'd be more need for support.

    I think privacy/security rules and concerns are a good reason for introducing this. Given the costs for adding & supporting it, I'm much less sympathetic to economic arguments. Telling people at the same time what they should do for you and that their work isn't worth 2 lattes/month just isn't terribly convincing to me.
  • edited 8 days ago
    -- deleted because I shouldn't have to defend myself like this --
  • You realize these prices are per year, right? A $20 USD plan is $1.66 USD a month.
  • edited 8 days ago
    @dstillman I was editing as you posted, I misread the comment.

    The Zotero membership is an upfront payment, the $20 plan is not large enough for those doing larger research projects - it will max out pretty quickly. So, the only option through Zotero would be to go for the $60 plan. That increases for most outside the US with exchange rate and fees. In Australia the 6GB plan is circa $80 upfront.

    If there was a monthly plan or mid level plans then it would be a more accessible option, but there's not and thus it is not viable for everyone. Many students use Zotero.

    Yet, interestingly this discussion has been pushed to a public shaming regarding finances rather than how groups could work for everyone, like regular library.
  • edited 8 days ago
    We go to pretty significant lengths to build and support high-quality open-source software that can be used for many workflows without paying us a cent. We've explained why we feel allowing linked files in groups would result in a confusing, error-prone, inherently limited experience for users, and would likely create huge support hassles that we would need to handle.

    The supported solution, which makes groups just work out of the box and allows for web-based file access, is available for a modest yearly fee that also pays for the continued existence of Zotero. You said you also wanted to use Dropbox for your project. OK, well, the cheapest storage plan from Dropbox, a public company with a >$10 billion market cap, is $10/month, twice the price of Zotero's 6 GB plan and the exact same as Zotero's unlimited plan. If you want to pay them monthly, it's $12/month, 20% more than Zotero's unlimited plan.

    That was adamsmith's point about the cost. No one is shaming you. Given that you misread the prices initially, I don't think we need to dwell on this.

    If your feedback is that a monthly payment plan would make Zotero's storage plans more accessible to you, that's fine — start a new thread and say so. But don't just ignore our explanation when we say we don't feel we can offer a good user experience, or act like the storage prices that support the project are somehow unreasonably out of proportion to similar services.
    I pointed to the fact that there is only a low and high level plan, no mid level.
    Zotero has three plans. The 6 GB plan is the mid-level plan. If you need between 2 and 6 GB, it's half the price of Dropbox's cheapest option.
  • My comments have been completely taken out of context, and the defensiveness is a little irksome. I have not said that Zotero is not a good product, nor have I implied so. I merely stated that I found a limitation as a user.

    Many students already have Dropbox for other things (like I do) so using it for now is not an added expense. I get where your coming from, but the intention of my initial comment was not about pricing, it was pushed there by defensive comments.

    I misread the comment about the latte, I am familiar with the pricing.
    a public company with a >$10 billion market cap,
    That's not an attempt to shame?? What is the relevance of raising it otherwise?
    If your feedback is that a monthly payment plan would make Zotero's storage plans more accessible to you, that's fine — start a new thread and say so.
    Rather than make it public, I emailed the feedback a couple of months ago when I purchased a 2GB plan and realised it wasn't enough, and there were no options for a mid-range plan... because as I stated, I commented on this thread about the limitations of groups from a user perspective.

    So often, when people raise a limitation the response is so negative. I've experienced the same thing when I raise something regarding item types and I've seen it happen to others. Why? Why be so rude? I recommend Zotero to everyone, but this is honestly not a fun part of using the service.
  • That's not an attempt to shame?? What is the relevance of raising it otherwise?
    It's…really not? I'm honestly not sure where you're getting that. Providing a data point isn't shaming. I'm genuinely trying to explain our position on this and put it in context.

    You began your posts here by acting baffled by the idea that Zotero Storage is necessary for what we feel is a good user experience in groups and for the avoidance of an expensive support drain. (One might argue that ignoring our explanation and calling this a "a frustrating limitation that doesn't really make any sense" is a bit "rude".)

    The relevance of the comparison to Dropbox is that Zotero Storage costs the same or less than services from companies with vastly more resources than us, making it a pretty reasonable thing for us to suggest. Our goal is to make the best possible experience accessible to the largest number of people in a sustainable way, and our design decisions, our licensing, and our pricing all work together to do that.
    there were no options for a mid-range plan
    I'm not sure why you keep saying this. Again, the 6 GB plan is the mid-range plan, and it's half the price of Dropbox's cheapest option.
  • edited 8 days ago
    by acting baffled
    Act? No, it was genuine user feedback.
    (One might argue that ignoring our explanation and calling this a "a frustrating limitation that doesn't really make any sense" is a bit "rude".)
    Explaining what would work for me as user is not ignoring an explanation. Not sure how explaining a user experience from a user perspective is rude either. At that point it didn't make sense to me. I was trying to figure it out and asking for help. Then I was jumped on for sharing this user experience.
    making it a pretty reasonable thing for us to suggest.
    Again, I did not say that the suggestion was unreasonable.... I merely shared user experience. sigh.
    I'm not sure why you keep saying this. Again, the 6 GB plan is the mid-range plan, and it's half the price of Dropbox's cheapest option.
    I mean there is is no mid way point between the two, it is a big jump given what the storage is for (and then a massive jump to unlimited). For the 2 - 6 it averaged 10GB per 1GB and I think Zotero would get more subscribers if they offered at least one level in between.

    Honestly, I love Zotero but this makes me reconsider using it seeing as I'll never be able to seek help from the community without this kind of encounter.
  • I don't know what "this kind of encounter" is supposed to mean, but I think you're completely misinterpreting the responses you've received. I've taken a couple hours to explain our position on why we don't offer linked files in groups, and how the solution we offer that we feel results in a satisfactory user experience and manageable support load has prices equal to or below other service providers. Your feedback regarding the jump from $20 to $60 and the lack of monthly billing has been noted, but obviously isn't going to result in any immediate changes in this thread. I'm not sure what else you're looking for.

    People have happily provided support to you many times over the years, and I have no idea why you think that would change. But if we disagree with you on something, we're going to say so.
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