Journal

2020-09-14 amsreftex – a long-expected package

I have been a long time user of the amsrefs LaTeX package. I am also an avid fan of the AUCTeX Emacs package. Unfortunately, the two don’t get along very well with each other – AUCTeX has RefTeX, which assumes that the bibliographies are done with BibTeX (and possibly also works with BibLaTeX). This makes RefTeX basically useless for me.

And that was the situation until a few days ago. I received an email from Fran Burstall saying that he implemented support for amsrefs in RefTeX.

I downloaded his library today and started playing around with it. I did not spend a lot of time with it, but from what I see it works pretty well. The first feature I used was C-c [, which lets me enter a citation. It accepts a regex – and displays a window with all the entries matching that regex. “Matching” here means matching the author, title, journal title, publisher – basically whatever, which is great. I can select one of them, and even mark a few and insert a \cite{...,...} command with them (amsrefs’ \citelist is not supported, but this can be easily remedied).

Another feature which I really love is Eldoc-like info about the citation at point. (For it to work, you need to place the point on the label itself – the \cite command is not enough.) One its drawback is that it does not show the type of the entry (book/article/website etc.), but since it shows the author and title, it is not a big issue. (Also, for this to work you need to press C-c & on a citation; presumably, RefTeX then “loads” the bibliography into its memory.)

I did not check how amsreftex works with a bibliography in a separate file – I never use that feature of amsrefs anyway – but using a master file which includes e.g. chapters and bibliography as separate files works just fine.

It is really a pity I use TeX less and less these days, as I am no longer involved in academia (in fact, I like to describe myself half-jokingly as a “former mathematician”;-)). If I were, amsreftex is something I would use on a daily basis, and I cannot recommend it enough if you happen to use the trio of Emacs, AUCTeX and amsrefs.

Good job, Fran! Thank you!

CategoryEnglish, CategoryBlog, CategoryEmacs, CategoryTeX, CategoryLaTeX

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