a sente vs papers question

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by jojoba, Aug 7, 2012.

  1. jojoba, Aug 7, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2012

    jojoba macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    I'm debating whether to leave Papers and switch to Sente. I've had Papers for a while and have now downloaded a trial version of Sente to have a look at it.

    Is there anyone here with long(ish) experience with Sente who can tell me how reliable it is as a cite while you write tool? I've played around with it myself, but I'm interested in hearing from people who have completed a full (or more) manuskript(s) using Sente. If you can compare the experience to Papers, even better.

  2. andy8 macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2009
    PART 1


    PART 2


    The sites above are the best comparison(s) between Sente and Papers that I've came across on the web so far. But the best way to see the difference or advantages between one and another is to actually write a research paper on both platforms. This is what I intend on doing too. I have both trials installed on my Macbook Pro.
  3. jojoba thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    Thanks, andy, I've read those links before and I agree it's the best review out there. He just didn't say all that much about the referencing part, so I didn't get the impression that he had actually worked through a whole publication with them. The devil is often in the detail when you get down to it (how to change upper cases to lower cases, change italics and indents and all of that fun stuff...).

    But yes, I'll probably have to just fully test both. Please report back, and I'll do the same.
  4. andy8 macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2009
    Sure. I will be purchasing either one and we'll have to make sure it is the best for our needs. I'll report my findings.
  5. jojoba thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    OK, I decided to give Sente a proper go, so I imported by entire research library. Here are my first impressions:

    What I like:

    I quite like the interface, even though reviews tend to favour Papers.

    I REALLY like the tagging system, and this is something that I think will pull me quite strongly towards Sente. I have been trying to move away from folders and towards tagging as my means of orgnanisation, and Sente is just better set up for that than Papers. Papers also has tags, but they are not hierarchical. Sente makes it very easy for me to integrate special issues and book chapters and so on in the way that I like to have them organised.

    Another thing I REALLY like are the sync features. That you can sync easily across multiple libraries and to iPad is just a great advantage to Papers. I haven't tested this out yet because in the trial version you can't sync if you have more than 250 references, but the reviews on this seem favourable.

    I like the variety in ways you can import pdf files - just import them all in one batch, or filter and edit them as you go along. That's not an important issue, though, as Papers set up works pretty well for me, too.

    What I'm not convinced about/ miss:

    I miss the way Papers allows you to select or deselect multiple search engines when you try to match pdf-s to meta data. So far, I think I much prefer Papers' way of organising that process, because you can just insert and specify a bunch of meta data and then select the search engines you want. I haven't tested it out extensively with Sente yet, but it seems to me that you have to do one search engine at the time and you can't specify what the different pieces of text should be (author, publication year, and so on). I hope I just haven't figured it out properly yet. If I have, this process in Sente is pretty disappointing to me.

    In Papers, it also seems to be easier to search on the web while having references side by side, but I haven't tested this extensively yet so this is just tentative.

    Finally, I haven't found a way to differentiate between 'last import' and 'today' in recent imports in Sente. In Papers, you have this opportunity and I find it really useful when doing batch imports. I guess it's less important after you have set up the bulk of your research library, since additions after that are likely to be less numerous in quantity.

    Another thing I'm missing is the 'open in Sente' plug in for web browser - but perhaps this exists and I haven't found it yet.

    In short, I'm still on the fence. What frustrates me about both options is that they can only import meta data for journal articles, which creates tons of additional work in terms of cite while you write functionality. It's the one and only feature I desperately miss about EndNote. That program was near perfect in terms of importing correct metadata for all kinds of sources.

    I guess I'm just asking for too much in one app, but in my dream world I would get:

    - annotation capacities on par with iAnnotate
    - import of meta data on par with EndNote
    - seamless cite while you write functionality
    - the tagging system of Sente
    - seamless syncing across mac, windows and iPad

    I'm still considering what I'll end up doing in the real world.
  6. jojoba thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    So, I thought I'd post a little update.

    Theoretically, Sente has won me over. That's primarily because of the ability to organise my library around hierarchical tags, the instant sync between mac and iPad, and because it seems to handle book references better, partially because of the targeted browsing.

    However, I've been having a lot of practical issues with Sente, much more than I would have liked to have in the course of two days.

    After spending the time setting up my entire reserach library, Sente deleted all my quick tags palette after I set up a synced library (to sync to iPad). I was absolutely livid because I first thought my day and a half's work of organising all my files were gone. Turns out that the tags were still in the system but the palette had been erased, so once I found the tags I could restore the palette. However, based on their web site, at least one other user has experienced this issue.

    I'm getting a lot of error messages regularly, and Sente has crashed on me twice. I think that's way too much in the course of two days. I'm in a dialogue with support to try to address it.

    Finally, this morning I'm having sync issues, where the references I transferred to my desktop version last night are not showing up on my iPad.

    In sum, I really want this to work, but I'm running out of patience. I think these are way too many issues to experience in two days. Perhaps I am demanding, but I expect apps in that price range to just work. This doesn't just work. It's being a pain in the butt.

    As an update to my previous post, I've now established that
    - Sente has no way of manually searching for duplicates
    - you can't differentiate between last import and today's import
    - there's no way to directly open a page in Safari in Sente

    I'll miss those features in Papers, but they're not deal breakers. I'm getting accustomed to Sente's way of searching for new reference information and pdfs. I really like the targeted browsing, but I still prefer Papers UI when it comes to searching.

    While some of the annotation features in the iPad version are quite nice, Papers and Sense are like toddlers compared to pdf annotation apps like iAnnotate, GoodReader or PDF Expert, so I will probably keep doing a lot of my annotation in iAnnotate, especially when I have to quickly go through a large number of documents. The lack of smooth scrolling and more advanced navigation options makes this a pain in the butt in both Sente and Papers on the iPad.

    I'm still not sure that these apps are really worth the money, but I hope I'll be proven wrong.
  7. jojoba thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    OK, my final conclusion:

    I have converted to Sente and will be using this as my main app to organise pdfs. The things that finally won me over from Papers are:
    i) the sync feature between my Air and iPad (which now seems to be working fairly well)
    ii) the quote function in the iPad annotation app. I allows for gathering notes to specific parts of the pdf text in one place, and I find that hugely useful. I still think the annotation app is missing in many other respects (as is the annotation in Papers), but this is an excellent feature.
    iii) the ability to organise by tags.

    I also prefer the user interface compared to that of Papers.

    There are still things I'm not too happy with:
    - I find that Sente isn't that good at identifying duplicates, and there's no way to search for duplicates manually (which I find weird)
    - the iPad app is sometimes lagging when I scroll, and it tends to shut down when I delete attachments (this has happened close to ten times over the past three days, but I've stopped reporting problems to the developers though because they don't answer my posts)
    - I'm not convinced yet (although I haven't fully tested it out) that it's a good cite while you write alternative, so I might be sticking to EndNote for now. It's by far the most reliable alternative I've tried for referencing documents.

    I still think Papers is a good product, though.

    Andy, have you decided what to buy?
  8. andy8 macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2009
    Hi Jojoba,

    Currently, I am busy reading articles on Papers and I haven't had the time to test Sente properly. But I do feel that Sente offers more than Papers. Papers seems to be simpler and I realise that the same article when read on Papers; is much clearer, defined and has crisp text/colour compared to Sente(usually very light coloured text).

    I will need some time to test but my believe is I will still go for Sente; simply for the fact that it offers more features and hence better for the future. I don't rely on iPad sync for now but would probably need it in near future. So again, Sente seems to be a winner.
  9. Rusty33 macrumors 6502


    Jul 8, 2011
    Thanks for your insights jojoba. For what it might be worth - my experience with Sente's cite-while-you-write function was a complete disaster. Alas my queries to customer support also went unanswered...ultimately steering me towards purchasing Papers.

    I must say that 6 months on, I am incredibly happy with my decision. I have found magic-manuscripts an absolute treat to use on my mac, and the ipad-syncing functionality adequate. Syncing across computers is not particularly straightforward or intuitive, but I find this shortcoming preferable to the constant frustration I experienced using Sente. Also, I have found the Mekentoshj customer support team to be very helpful - a refreshing change from Third Street Software.

    I would strongly encourage you to attempt to write a paper using both programs...try changing the reference types, fiddling with styles, etc. In my opinion that is the only real way to really get hands dirty with the nuts and bolts of both programs.

    Hope that helps
  10. andy8 macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2009
    Well Said. I have to reconsider my decision again.
  11. jojoba thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    Thanks, Rusty, I really appreciate hearing from someone with cite while you write-experience. I am actually trying to use Papers to write up a research article now (this started before I considered getting Sente; I initially went for Papers due to the cross platform functionality as my university is Windows based). I am still only halfway through the process or so, so I haven't really tested out the formatting of the bibliography, which IME is where it often goes wrong (and where EndNote is difficult to beat in terms of consistency). I agree, though, that magic manuscripts is great. I've used it with Scrivener and the ease with which to retrieve and insert references is excellent. Although I am currently using Sente for pdf reading, I will see this process (i.e. citing current article with Papers) to the end. At the end of the day, I could always use Papers for cite while you write and Sente for pdf management - it's easy to export a full library of references (minus the pdfs) between the two apps, and with Papers I would have cite while you write functionality on my windows work desktop (I have both versions of Papers already purchased).

    It's also my experience that the Paper's support team is pretty responsive, although they for some reason no longer have public discussions on their support forum which I think is a shame. ThirdStreetSoftware was pretty responsive when I indicated that I was using the test version while considering to purchase, it was after purchase they became unresponsive :rolleyes:

    Do you sync across computers with dropbox?
    And have you had any major formatting issues with Papers in terms of formatting references and bibliography in your texts?
    Finally, could you expand a bit on the 'disaster' with Sente's cite while you write?
  12. Rusty33 macrumors 6502


    Jul 8, 2011
    I could not agree more....endnote's cite-while-you-write functionality is certainly tops. Unfortunately every other aspect of the program is pretty dated! For me, Ipad itegration is more important...papers magic manuscripts is up to the task for the most part.

    I anticipate that you will run into substantial problems doing something like this. I have found that metadata does not import/export from papers, sente, and endnote without incident. Book chapters, for example, are handled quite differently in papers than it is in its counterparts. Every time I have imported/exported, I have had to spend a fair bit of time tidying up a lot of the metadata pertaining to book chapters, websites, and reports that did not make the transition properly. I suspect that you'll find that this is not a very viable solution in the long term.

    I do...look, it works, although I must admit that it is definitely not without its flaws. I find myself 'holding my breath' every time that I turn on my computer at work and watch dropbox connect/download. When I got to work this friday Friday, for example, I realised that I had accidentally left my computer on at home (with papers running), and as a result could not use my library at work - very frustrating!!

    None....yet. The papers CSL styles have been bang on. I do, however, anticipate that it won't all be sunshine and lollipops when I find myself needing a unique style that is not provided in the CSL repository.

    My 'disaster' (which ultimately drove me insane) related to the 'scan feature', whereby citations used multiple times throughout a document are showing up as multiple/duplicate entries in my bibliography.

    For example, the single citation {Smith 2008} appeared in my bibiliography as:
    Smith, A., 2008a..........
    Smith, A., 2008b..........
    Smith, A., 2008c..........
    Smith, A., 2008d..........

    This same issue cropped up in multiple documents, created using both word and scrivener - and drove me insane.

    Also, I noted that sente started randomly inserting a "^" in front of many (but not all) of my references. No one was ever able to tell me what this meant, or how/if it was affecting my document.

    Ultimately, my Sente experience was short-lived!
  13. jojoba thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    Thanks, Rusty, appreciate your input on this.

    Yes, I feel the same about EndNote - everything but the meta data capacity seems so outdated... and from what I can work out, there are no plans of an iPad version, which to me is also a deal breaker.

    Yes, your Sente experience sounds totally annoying. I guess I'll have to reconsider my plan for just transferring references to Papers. I'm encouraged by your reference experience there, though. At the same time, I'm not yet quite ready to give up on Sente for pdf management...

    :confused::confused: ...

    I guess I'll just have to have yet another think about how to organise my work flow.
  14. amatthew macrumors newbie

    Oct 7, 2012
    Exporting Sente Library

    Thanks for all these very useful posts. I too have been trialling Sente and Papers. I loved Sente for searching and tagging but it just doesn't support my referencing style - I'm not interested in getting my first phd in how to amend styles in Sente.

    So I did a fair bit of work in Sente and would like to export what I have in that Sente library to Papers. You say that its easy - and I'm really hoping you can help me out. I've tried exporting from Sente a few ways and can't get export to work in a format papers likes at all. Hopefully I'm missing something really straight forward. Any help would be really appreciated.


    btw if you loved tagging - have you seen the word clouds in Bookends? I would love that in Papers.
  15. jojoba thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    To be honest, I think I took my mouth a bit too full with that comment, because I didn't actually check the quality of meta data for the references, and based on Rusty's post it's probably not as straight forward as I thought. I haven't really checked my Papers library properly, because at the moment I'm just using Sente (although I'm still testing out Papers for cite while you write for the article I'm currently writing, but I'm still in Scrivener drafting mode and haven't gotten to a stage where I've formatted references and bibliography). But I think the method I used was the same as the one described here for EndNote migration:


    I looked up Bookends' tag clouds and got pretty jealous - that looks GREAT. Do you have experience using Bookends? Do you know if it's correct that it doesn't do annotations?
  16. MathRulz macrumors regular

    Apr 15, 2011
    I must have missed this thread in the past. I have not had this problem with Sente, and I often cite the same reference in a paper. I use APA 6. Were you using the latest version of Sente? What word processor?
  17. MathRulz macrumors regular

    Apr 15, 2011
    Sente looks for duplicates on import, but it certainly isn't perfect at that. To manually find them, I order my library by author and then check titles. I only have about 2000 references in my library, so it isn't too bad. Mainly I just try to be careful when grabbing a reference.

    I guess there's no way to directly open a page in Safari in Sente because Sente comes with its own browser. This feature would certainly be nice to have though. In fact, sometimes I have Sente and Safari open together, browse using Safari, and then copy the URL into Sente to open to the page directly and copy the reference.

    You probably know that if you are in Safari and want to create a web page reference, you can do that by selecting Print and clicking on the PDF button in the lower left corner. You can send to Sente, Scrivener, DevonThink, etc in this way. I mostly use that functionality with DevonThink.
  18. jojoba thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    Yes, I do the bold, too. The duplicates thing was primarily an issue when I was first migrating a large number of references; now that I'm just adding a few every day it's not a problem. My experience with 'look for duplicates on import' is that it doesn't work that well, though.

    Yes, Papers also comes with its own browser and again it's not a big issue. I usually copy and paste a link from Safari to Sente as you describe. The 'open is Papers' add on was just a nice, convenient advantage, but definitely not a critical feature. I do use the clip to DevonThink (rather than 'print to') add on a lot - it's a great way for me to convert web page to pdf and organise them.

    Overall, I'm pretty happy with Sente functionality. I greatly prefer the UI to Papers. I haven't tested the cite while you write functionality yet, but the ability to organise by tagging and 'sub tags' has greatly improved my pdf management. I also love the sync with my iPad, and the 'quote' feature in their annotations (although I generally think annotation features in both Sente and Papers need to be brought up one notch). I have to say, though, that I find Sente a bit buggy, and the customer service varied. But for now, it's still my first choice for pdf management.
  19. jojoba thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    Math, can I ask you: Is there a way of inserting two or more references at the same time with Sente? I realise you can do CMD and click to select more, but I often have three or more references together and they are usually never visible in the same window.
  20. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
    I'm a happy user of Paper2, and have been for a few years now.

    It has a few short commings, but I'm sure they will be weeded out some time. The biggest problem for me is actually lack of feedback from the developers. They are quite closed about the direction of development, and their support system is quite lacking - They see it as a good thing, but as an end user who would like a bit of insight I find it horrible.
  21. Spectrum, Oct 9, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2012

    Spectrum macrumors 6502a


    Mar 23, 2005
    Hi Jojoba,

    I am a fairly longtime Sente user. I used to use Bookends, but converted when I got an iPad1 and needed a way to have the same PDF library on the iPad and the Mac. I also tried Papers, but I found the iPad app to be terrible and buggy at the time (perhaps it was a problem with my library). Ultimately the wireless sync of Sente is what won it to me. I also need to have the library on multiple computers (home/work/lab). I think that feature is amazing. I have collaborated on documents and I've supplied a copy of a manuscript in its own library to a collaborator and they can watch me mark it up in real time - on the other side of the world - and vice versa. Pretty amazing! I also have a synced version of the reference library for the people in my lab to use and add references to. I also love the clip feature to create picture annotations of figures etc.

    Having said that, I REALLY wish that the Sente developers would concentrate on some bug fixing rather than adding any new features for a while. Some things just seem a little clunky. I have 2500 references, and even just scrolling the database can be quite slow (MacMini quad core i7 with 8GB RAM and SSD, so it is not a hardware issue.)

    Now to your question - yes use Command-click and scroll your references, or do what I do: Create a new status or tag for your current project. Give all potentially interesting references that tag/status. Then use the left-hand pane to view just those specific tagged/statused references. It is then much easier to cite by pulling from this sub list of references. I hope this idea helps!
  22. jojoba thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    Thanks for all that input, appreciated!

    That's pretty amazing. I haven't really thought through all the potential opportunities of this (only restricted, though, by the fact that I'm the only person in my neck of the woods who actually uses Sente, haha).

    I can't really emphasise enough how much I second that. I just think it has the potential to be such a brilliant piece of software - but every time it shuts down on me because I'm deleting an attachment or something along those lines, I just get very frustrated.

    Thanks, that helps. I hadn't thought of gathering them in a separate tag. It's a bit of a work around, but better than scrolling through a couple of thousand references.

    I'm still set on completing my current article using Papers for the cite while you write functionality, primarily just because I started writing that piece and referencing it with Papers before I purchased Sente, but I also LOVE the ease with which Papers allows you to search and insert multiple references. It excels in that area compared to Sente. I'd also like to see the process through so I can subsequently compare it with Sente for cite while you write functionality. I used to want to have 'everything' in one app, but I'm increasingly accepting that it's better to diversify if that strengthens my overall work flow. I might end up using Sente for PDF management and annotation, and either Papers or EndNote for referencing.

    What is your overall experience with reference formatting in Sente - do references display correctly and is it easy to modify citation styles depending on which journal you are submitting to?
  23. fueradeljuego macrumors newbie

    Apr 19, 2013
    I have been loving Papers so far in terms of ease of use and the correctly formatted bibliographies it has generated for me.

    However I came across a stumbling block that may just be a deal breaker.

    As a scholar in the humanities I use books probably more than articles. I would like to be able to add the bibliographical references to hard-copy books I own to the Papers library for rapid reference without having to enter the information manually. Sente allows you to do this. I can't figure out a way to do so in Papers.
  24. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
    File menu --> New --> Book.
    (Better late than never!)

    But now that we are here, and almost a year later - Does anyone have any more input? Papers 3 was just released (Both Mac and iOS), now with Dropbox sync support (Yay!) and a new interface. Hopefully they've also removed a lot of the bugs. I plan on trying it out this weekend.
    Has Sente improved a lot in the mean time?
  25. Rusty33 macrumors 6502


    Jul 8, 2011
    I tried to move over to Sente when they released the most recent version a few months ago...the mac version was OK, however the ipad version they released alongside it was absolutely horrible...the worst PDF rendering experience I have ever had. Absolutely unusable. I have heard that Sente has recently released a new ios version with improvements...but I can't help but think of those prophetic words by George Bush: "fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."

    I've gone back to papers and won't be looking back. I would, however, love to hear your thoughts on version 3....please keep us posted!

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