Demo: Standalone Bibliography

Frank Bennett

This page illustrates a simple deployment that renders a small bibliography. The original of this example was kindly provided by Chris Maloney back when citeproc-js was hosted on BitBucket. I have modified it (very) slightly to illustrate the use of the Zotero API.

My Amazing Bibliography

Style and Data

We’re going to need some data. The URL below will pull eight items from the public library “Pitt-Greensburg English Literature Capstone” via the Zotero API.

var chosenLibraryItems = "";

We’re also going to need a style. The slug below is the machine-readable name of Chicago Full Note (with bibliography). In this demo we’ll use it to fetch the style over the wire, but it could equally well be embedded in our “application,” so we just note its name here.

var chosenStyleID = "chicago-fullnote-bibliography";

On page load, we fetch the citation data, and parse it into a JavaScript object.

var xhr = new XMLHttpRequest();'GET', chosenLibraryItems, false);
var citationData = JSON.parse(xhr.responseText);

Data rearrangement

The Zotero API delivers citation objects in the CSL JSON format expected by the processor, but the objects need to be reorganized for keyed access. We also need an array of the keys. Here we store the keyed citations as citations, and the array of IDs as itemIDs.

var citations = {};
var itemIDs = [];
for (var i=0,ilen=citationData.items.length;i<ilen;i++) {
  var item = citationData.items[i];
  if (!item.issued) continue;
  if (item.URL) delete item.URL;
  var id =;
  citations[id] = item;

The sys object

The processor needs two hook functions, one to acquire arbitrary locales (retrieveLocale()), and another to acquire items by key (retrieveItem()). Locales are identified by their RFC-5646 language and region. For this demo we’ll pull them from a remote repository, but the files would ordinarily be stored locally.

citeprocSys = {
  retrieveLocale: function (lang){
    var xhr = new XMLHttpRequest();'GET', '' + lang + '.xml', false);
    return xhr.responseText;
  retrieveItem: function(id){
    return citations[id];

Processor instantiation

We set up a function to instantiate the processor. In this code, we retrieve the style and locale as serialized XML because it is easy to do. If the objects were in DOM or E4X format, we could deliver that as well: the only constraint is that both need to be in the same form.

function getProcessor(styleID) {
  var xhr = new XMLHttpRequest();'GET', '' + styleID + '.csl', false);
  var styleAsText = xhr.responseText;
  var citeproc = new CSL.Engine(citeprocSys, styleAsText);
  return citeproc;

Putting it all together

To generate a bibliography, we grab the processor, set the item IDs on it, and request bibliography output. The result is a two-element array composed of a memo object and a list of rendered strings. Joining up the strings gives us the HTML for inclusion in the page.

function processorOutput() {
  ret = '';
  var citeproc = getProcessor(chosenStyleID);
  var result = citeproc.makeBibliography();
  return result[1].join('\n');