In the middle of thesis writing season (since people are about to graduate and get on with their life), I would like to tell you why I stopped using Mendely and switch to Zotero completely.

I have been a long-time user of Mendeley (probably about 2 years) which is a citation manger and it also happen to be a good paper management system. But, now my heart is set on Zotero and here’s why.

It started with buggy LibreOffice support on Ubuntu.

A few months ago, a bug hit me and disrupt my entire workflow. I accidentally click “insert citation” without opening Mendely first. Normally, a warning would appear and everything will be resolved once I run the two program in parallel. However, not this time! After that incidence, I simply cannot insert citations to my LibreOffice document with Mendeley anymore. Once I tried to insert a new citation, the prompt to insert just would not appear. Instead, the entire Mendeley window shows up. I tried all basic troubleshoots I could think of: search for errors on the web, resetting Mendeley, sing out and in again, complete removing both software and reinstalling it again. Nothing works!

Why and how?

I opened a ticket to Mendely team and their answer could be concluded as:

  • They don’t support Ubuntu 18 (and it’s now 2020!). I guess no one would want to use Ubuntu 16!
  • This situation mean that I was using the unsupported environment.
  • So the software did not work properly.

This is a sign that they do not care about Linux users, so this is the breaking point where I decided to abandon Mendeley.

It doens’t end here. The next complication is about migrating Mendeley library to Zotero.

As mentioned in this document. Since Mendeley 1.19, they started to encrypt the database, creating a locked-in environment where people cannot export their library to Zotero. I was lucky since downgrading to 1.19 of Mendeley is an option at the time. I downgraded the software, sync with Mendeley Cloud and was able to use the automatic migration tool.

A message to other folks is that if you want to move, move NOW. It will get much harder in the near future.

The bottom line

I have moved completely to Zotero and enjoy many of it’s features that Mendely does not have such as Zotero connector with Google Docs, multi note binding, adding article using ArXiv ID, DOI, PubMed ID, … . In syncing, I setup a NextCloud server for WebDav file transfer and it works fine, while this could be difficult for non-experts.

I hope everyone will have a nice day and enjoy reading more than ever before :-)

Pargorn Bangkok, April 2020