Demo: Editor

Frank Bennett


Running locally

Like the previous page, the main purpose here is to provide a worked example for developers. A good way to explore the way it all works is to run the page locally. Here is how to set that up.


Local setup

Fetch the repo

Clone the citeproc-js documentation project and enter its top-level directory:

git clone --recursive
cd citeproc-js-docs
Build the docs

The following command should work:

make html
Run a server using node.js

The built page uses XMLHttpRequest() calls, so it must be viewed through a web server. To run a simple server using node.js, an incantation like this should do the trick:

npm install -g http-server
http-server _build/html

Source File Overview

As this demo is built as a Sphinx page for deployment on ReadTheDocs, the source files are kind of scattered and mixed. The following list should help you find the essentials.

This is the core plugin for citation support. It spins up a web worker (from classes/citeworker.js) that runs citeproc.js to handle the actual formatting of citations, and manages page updates.
This supplies a tinyMCE menu for changing citation styles.
This supplies the primitive citation widget used in the demo editor. In production you would obviously want something a little more sophisticated. This plugin is the place to implement that.
There is some CSS code in here that is relevant to the layout of bibliographies and the decoration of citations and footnotes.
Check here (particularly at the bottom of the file) for the incantations that bring up tinyMCE with citation support.
The placeholder that tinyMCE installs itself to is supplied by the “editor” substitution element.
A few sample items for the dynamic editing demo, in CSL JSON format.
The standard CSL locales.
The CSL styles used in the demo. The “JM” styles are from the Juris-M styles repository, and have modular legal style support. The remainder are from the official CSL repository, which feeds the Zotero styles distribution site.
A set of legal style modules resides here. Legal citation support is easily extensible to jurisdictions worldwide via the Juris-M Style Editor (GitHub account required).

Worker API

The heavy lifting is done by the CSL processor, which runs in a separate thread as a web worker. Only the document-facing interface of the worker is described here: it should not be necessary to tangle with the internals of the worker itself. Its only idiosyncracy is that it assigns note numbers (reflected in the return) in citation sequence—in contrast to word processor context, it assumes that the only footnotes in the document are those generated automatically by a note style. If that is not true in your context, you will want to disable that behavior, and do whatever is necessary on document side to extract real note numbers for delivery to the processor.

The worker is controlled by two methods, callInitProcessor() and callRegisterCitation(), each with a corresponding message and return event.

citesupport.callInitProcessor(styleID, localeID)

This method is used on page load, on change of style, and when all citations have been removed from the document. The styleID argument is mandatory. If localeID is not provided, the processor will be configured with the en-US locale.

The citesupport.callInitProcessor method implicitly accesses the config.citationByIndex array, which must be accessible in page context. If the array is empty, the processor will be initialized without citations. If the array contains citations, the processor will be initialized to that document state, and return an array of arrays as rebuildData, for use in reconstructing citations in the document text. Each sub-array contains a citation ID, a note number, and a citation string. For example, if the styleID is for a note style, and if config.citationByIndex yields the citations “Wurzel Gummidge (1990)” and “My Aunt Sally (2001),” the rebuildData structure would look like this:

       "Wurzel Gummidge (1990)"
       "My Aunt Sally (2001)"

citesupport.callRegisterCitation(citation, preCitations, postCitations)

This method is used to add or to edit citations. All three arguments are mandatory. citation is an ordinary citation object as described above. preCitations and postCitations are arrays of arrays, in which each sub-array is composed of a citation ID and a note number. For example, if a note citation is to be inserted between the “Wurzel Gummidge” and “Aunt Sally” citations in the example above, these would have the following form:

preCitations = [

postCitations = [

Notice the change to the note number: the processor registers note numbers for use in back-references, but maintenance of correct note numbering must be handled in document-side code.

The citesupport.callRegisterCitation method returns two values from the processor: citationByIndex (described above) and citations. The latter is an array of one or more arrays, each composed of a citation position index, a string, and a citation ID. For example, the return value to insert a citation “Calvin (1995); Hobbes (2016)” between the “Wurzel Gummidge” and “My Aunt Sally” citations would look something like this:

       "Calvin (1995); Hobbes (2016)",

Note that the return value might contain updates for multiple citations.