FAQ: How do I create custom reference types and custom fields?

Sente makes it easy to add custom reference types and attributes, and to control how all reference types are presented in the reference editor. These changes are all made in the Reference Types Setup pane.

There are three lists in this setup pane:

  • The Reference Types list, which has one entry for every type of reference that can be stored in your library. Sente ships with dozens of built-in reference types. You can add as many as you might need for your work.
  • The Reference Editor Fields list, which shows, in order, the fields that the reference editor will display when showing a reference of the type selected in the Reference Type list. There is additional configuration information in this table that will be explained further below.
  • The Fields list, which shows all of the reference attributes that Sente knows about in this library. Sente ships with dozens of built-in reference attributes. You can add as many as you want to this list, and you can use any combination of built-in and custom attributes with any reference type.

Adding a Custom Reference Type

To add a new reference type to your library, click on the + button at the bottom of the Reference Type list. A sheet will appear in which you can name the new reference type.

If your new reference type is similar to an existing reference type, you can select that reference type in the Copy Editor Fields From drop-down menu and Sente will make a copy of the settings for that type as a starting point for your customization.

Change the Name of an Existing Reference Type

You can change the display name for all reference types (custom or built-in) by double-clicking on the entry in the Reference Type list and changing the name in the sheet that appears. You can do this, for example, if you would like to change the language in which the name appears.

Do not, however, change the name of any reference type in a way that fundamentally changes its meaning. The built-in types will continue to be used for their intended purpose no matter what you call them in the interface. For example, if you changed the visible name for the reference type “journal article” to “book”, Sente will continue to use that type for all journal articles that it downloads from the Internet. Changing the name does not change how Sente views the type internally.

Modifying the Reference Editor Configuration for a Reference Type

The reference editor is where you view and edit the contents of each reference in Sente. The way in which references are presented in this editor is controlled by the settings in the middle table in the setup pane.

To get your bearing in this setup pane, you might want to select a common reference type (e.g., Journal Article or Book) in the first table and then compare the list of fields in the second table with what you see in the reference editor when it is showing a reference of that type.

One thing you will quickly notice is that some field in the reference editor appear with labels at the left and some appear without labels. This is a difference in display style. The options are:

  • Labeled (that is, the name of the field will appear at the left and the value for the field will appear after the label);
  • Unlabeled 1, Unlabeled 2, and Unlabeled 3 (these are three styles that do not use labels; they differ in font only, with Unlabeled 1 using the largest font, and Unlabeled 3 using the smallest). When a field is set to one of the unlabeled styles, the label will appear as placeholder text when the field does not contain a value.

Something else you will probably notice quickly is that, while the fields in the editor appear in the same order as they appear in the reference fields list, not all of the fields listed in the setup pane appear in the reference editor. This is because some fields are set to appear only when they actually contain data. Some may be set to appear only when the editor is in View Mode, others only in Edit Mode, and others in both modes. Here are the options:

  • V indicates that the field should appear in View Mode
  • B indicates that the field should appear in View Mode, even if blank (if V is set and B is not, the field will not appear in View Mode unless it contains data)
  • E indicates that the field should appear in Edit Mode

Finally, you may notice cases where the field in the editor is called something other than what it is called in the reference fields list. This is because it is possible to change the label in the setup pane.

For example, Sente has two important internal fields that it calls “article title” and “publication title”. These are used to hold the title of a “component” and the title of a complete published work. In the case of a journal article, one might think of them as “article title” and “journal name”. In the case of a book chapter, one might call them “chapter title” and “book title”. Relabeling them does not change their meaning or their behavior, it just gives them names that are more natural in the context of specific reference types.

To actually change these settings for a field in the reference editor fields list, double-click on the entry in the list. A sheet will appear in which the changes can be made.

Rearranging Fields in the Reference Editor

To change the order in which fields are presented in the reference editor, simply click and drag on the appropriate entries in the reference fields list and place them in the desired locations within the list.

To remove a field from the list, simply drag it from the table and release it elsewhere.

Removing Field from the Reference Editor

To prevent you from overlooking fields that are present in your database, Sente will automatically append any field that it finds in the reference to the bottom of the list of fields in the display. This ensures that you see, for example, custom fields imported from another reference manager.

However, this makes it a little tricky to actually prevent a field from showing up in the editor. For example, if you never care to see the BibTeX key, simply removing it from the list of fields in the setup pane will only cause it to be displayed at the bottom of the editor along with any other field present in your data.

So, instead of removing the field from your list in the setup pane, double-click on the field and change the settings so that it is not displayed in either Edit or View mode.

Adding Custom Attributes

The table at the right side of this setup pane lists all of the reference attributes that this Sente library knows about. Some of these attributes are used in just a few reference types, others are used in many or all reference types. You can add your own custom reference attributes here and use them in the reference editor for any combination of reference types.

To create a new attribute type, click on the plus button on the Available Attributes list. A sheet will appear in which you can enter the name of the attribute that you want to create.

To use either your custom attributes or the built-in attributes, simply drag the appropriate entry from the Attributes list onto the reference editor fields list for the appropriate reference type.