Style Creation: Seeing and Learning


Thanks for all the work on the styles!

When you are making a new style next, might you consider recording your onscreen actions and putting the video online? You could talk in parallel with your actions as you go or just leave it silent. A couple of cases would be great: starting from a blank (if this is ever done), the case of heavy modification from an existing style, some minor tweaks, etc.

Should not take much effort, would be super-useful and might reduce your future workload by involving others. E.g., I fancy making my own and have quite a bit of experience in other software but I know how much depends on the hidden craftsmanship in such cases . The craftsmanship that is surely not captured by specifications and basic/abstract written instructions.

Thanks for considering.
  • Or you could run a webinar and record that.... I would join and bring some students too.
  • @sdflewrit783
    Thank you for reaching out. Making a video is something I have thought about before.
    Especially now that you asked I'll make one.
    The most common case is making a style based on a style already on the repository. No need to ever start from scratch really.
    Is there a specific style that you're after? I could use that as an example. Otherwise I'll just use one that is on the waitlist.
  • Not to discourage more of this, but there's a recorded Webinar in which I explain and create a style using the visual editor:
  • Thanks. Yes, I saw that there were a few videos out there already. Some dated. Most are introductory overviews. I think it would be valuable to show the details, anvanced features and tricks of the trade, not only the basics. That is why I was keen to see a couple of complete examples. I have submitted a style request to the queue but there might be more illustrative ones that need doing.
  • edited January 18, 2019
    Do look at that webinar -- it goes into fairly advanced territory and includes a style created live from author guidelines (starting at about the 45mins mark) -- the 2015 doesn't matter -- neither editor nor CSL has changed since.

    Real tricks of the trade are hard because the faster you get, the more you do straight in the XML and that'd be very hard to follow on a screen (or damnation: are you still doing most in the visual editor?)
  • Great. Shall do.
  • Yes, 90% is in the visual editor. My first styles I wrote blind back in the day, but I'm way faster with the visual editor still.
  • @adamsmith Have watched the webinar. Very useful, yes, thank you. However, it can be complemented to, as discussed. For example:

    1. Use, organisation and reuse of macros, their practical application, this is just mentioned as something beyond scope in the case of APA but also described as essential to realistic workflows.
    2. Robustness. Again, mentioned but not tackled.
    3. Treatment of multiple reference types: how many conditionals, management and economy.
    4. Custom data. What is possible via the Extra or other fields? Original titles in a non-Latin script, transliteration of that, translation of that, same for other fields. Some other custom data such as percentage of contribution, prestige of venue, etc.
    5. Raw XML, does it have the functionality not represented by the editor? Cross-operation with the editor, e.g., commenting.
    4. Ways of managing customized styles. Naming conventions. Dependencies. Version control...

    Style creation in the wild we might call that, looking at the realities of practice as well as at the core formalisms. :)
  • Well, "style creation in the wild" and those questions are two very different things. Pretty much none of them are tackled during most styles that he (or I) write in response to style requests.

    Some of them have very straightforward answers:
    4. Doesn't really have anything to do with CSL, it's Zotero specific and documented here: all of it is accessible from CSL including the visual editor
    5. The visual editor has the full CSL specs implemented though as you suggest it does remove comments, unfortunately (which you can enter in standard XML commenting syntax
    6. I don't think anyone worries about this -- as long as your custom id is unlikely to be duplicated by an official one, you're fine. You can version control on your own github if you like.
  • Cheers. Also, how about what styles are "official" and of high quality and can reliably be used as templates? Does that matter? How to recognize them? If anybody can save anything they are trying for all to see, one can imagine a large number of problematic attempts. Or is everything quality controlled before it is added to the list of styles?
  • edited January 19, 2019
    And to add to that -- I think damnation showing how he creates styles would definitely be useful to show efficient use of the visual editor.

    But I don't really think you can learn the in-depth of style creation from tutorials. As with most programming, you learn by doing, asking questions, and getting your code reviewed (that's definitely how damnation learned)

    [edited to remove double negative]
  • Everything in the official style repository has been through basic quality control (i.e. reviewed by Rintze and/or me), though the quality still varies quite a bit -- a good rule of thumb to spot a better style is to look for styles with fewer prefix/suffix and more groups.
  • Great discussion here.
    I'll certainly look into making a video still. For a typical case where I start by using the sample citations to find a good match, select a style that is of good quality and then build it and upload it to the repository.

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