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Expanding how the new cite syntax is used to include cross-references -

From: John Kitchin
Subject: Expanding how the new cite syntax is used to include cross-references - thoughts?
Date: Tue, 10 Aug 2021 20:58:12 -0400

To preface this, let me note that I am looking for a way to replace org-ref with a complete and orthogonal package for writing scientific papers with citations and cross-references. (I can probably live without the glossary and acronym support). The cross-references in org-ref were handled with org-links, and I think it would be a mistake to try to do that again because the links will be defined by the last package loaded which will lead to issues. So, I would like what I call an orthogonal approach for cross-references, orthogonal in the sense that it can coexist with org-ref, but not require org-ref if you don't use it. The built in internal links like [[label]] lack the flexibility I need (I think), e.g. to differentiate a typical reference from an equation reference (these map to \ref{label} and \eqref{label} in latex for example), and there are other references that are relevant in latex also like \pageref{label}, \cref{label} etc.

While working on org-ref-cite, it occurred to me that we can use the new org-cite syntax for cross-references, without any changes to the syntax, we can just use a different style. This would enable a near complete and orthogonal replacement of org-ref. These cross-references are like a citation IMO, but to a separate set of targets, i.e. not to bibliography entries but rather to locations within the document, and possibly even to other documents.

e.g. [cite/ref:@label] would be a cross-reference to "label" defined in a CUSTOM_ID on a heading, a NAME keyword, or in raw latex like \label{label}.

You could use substyles for equations, or page refs, etc. e.g. [cite/ref/eq:@label] for an equation.

You could also use a prefix to indicate a figure, table, equation, e.g. [cite/ref/eq:Equation @label].

This does add a bit of complexity to the processors, which have to do different things for the different kinds of cites (for activation, insertion, following and exporting), and that is based only on the style. I would not expect these styles to be fully supported by all the processors. For LaTeX though, it would make for a near total and orthogonal replacement of org-ref.

You can see what this would look like at https://github.com/jkitchin/org-ref-cite/issues/16. I use style-dependent fontification to differentiate bibliographic citations from cross-references. They also have different follow behaviors.

Anyway, I am curious what you all think. Is it a good idea? Worth waiting for or thinking of a better solution?


Professor John Kitchin (he/him/his)
Doherty Hall A207F
Department of Chemical Engineering
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

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