1) Basic referencing of documents
Anita is writing her PhD and does a lot of research based on existing work. In her PhD she will base conclusions on texts from published books, articles etc. To describe this process in her paper she quotes a small piece of text of maybe one or two paragraphs from those works in her main text. Her university requires that any quoted text used like this is properly documented on where exactly it came from and who wrote it. She is required to use a exact formatting style that is the standard style for PhDs, at least at her university. The reference is located directly next to the quoted text and states which book and page number are referenced.
Anita knows that there are online databases with all the works she could reference already entered into, she wants to use that in order to simply search for the reference she needs and then select the appropriate entry to be included. This avoids any typing of the referenced text and subsequent updates. In addition to a reference in the text she is required to have a specific chapter at the end of the paper with all the references she made listed briefly. The formatting for each entry is the same for all entries in that chapter.
2) Two authors sharing a document
Billy, from the UK, is working to write a piece against software patents which he wants to send to his government representative. Claire, from Sweden, will he helping him by writing half of the text. Claire also wants to send the printed document to her government representative.
The document uses quotes and references from various newspaper and studies. Various of these references can be found in an online library that Billy has access to at his university. Other references have to be manually typed in. All these references have to be properly attributed by name, author, date etc.
Billy and Claire both want to be able to see the text, and the references while editing the document, but while Billy is using OpenOffice with an expensive bibliographic tool, Claire is using KWord which she thinks is faster and easier to use with one of the free bibliographic tools. On top of that Claire found out that she actually requires a different formatting of the references for her target audience where she expects to alter the formatting-style for references just prior to printing. Just altering the formatting in one place will update the whole document to reflect the new style.
There are two ways of integrating with any suite that sound promising to me;
- Create an (odf based) changeset format. This means that based on ODF we should create a fileformat that contains changes to a known document. Two applications can then sent these (small) documents and 'merge' them into the existing document.
- Create a technology specific RPC API.
In this case I'd say the different office suites can provide a dbus API that provides an interface that is specifically geared towards citation software. While still being generic enough that different citation tools can all use it.