Paperpile - first thoughts and feature requests

I’ve been using Papepile for a few weeks now and wanted to jot down my thoughts so far, and note the areas that I think would be great to see improved. This is my 3rd reference manager after EndNote (shudder) and Zotero. The latter works fine, but I wanted to move to Google Docs for collaborative paper writing, and whilst the WebDAV attachment mechanism works, accessing those attachments from the web (without a client) was complicated.

From the discussions I’ve seen here, it seems to me that people use reference managers in different ways - either “simply” as a method of finding and inserting citations, or as a full-fledged manager for searching, categorising, reading etc. reference material. I fall into the latter. So whilst I’m extremely happy with the ability to collaborate on paper in Docs, there are a few things I’m missing:

  • PDF is the only first class attachment type
    • I also have ePub and djvu files that I would like as primary attachments, with renaming etc.
  • Filtering and sorting is quite basic
    • I cannot sort my entire library (2718 items) by anything other than date added, but if I apply a “journal article” filter (2212 items) I have the full sort options. I find this quite arbitrary…
    • I cannot use multiple filter types - e.g. “Has PDF” and “Journal Article”
    • There is no way to specify a date range (e.g. 2005-2008)
    • Basically I would love to see these more complex queries made available via keyword:value pairs in the search term, e.g. “author:bentley year:2005-2008 has:pdf” or similar. I find the ADS query syntax very useful ( as an example.
  • Full text search (in the context of the reference manager) is essential
    • I understand from the forum that this is on the way - yay!
  • Offline mode - I understand this is a tough one
    • my naive preference would be to allow a simple offline use, caching the database locally and greying out options that are too complex. Perhaps the user could set the root directory where their Drive files are sync’d for offline access to PDFs without the app having to deal with them?

Basically I love writing with Paperpile and reading/commenting works well too, but I keep having to fire up Zotero to really dig into my literature collection.

Great work and I look forward to seeing how the app develops, especially the mobile clients etc.