Working with Zotero Standalone (Alpha)

Zotero LogoSeveral weeks ago Jason observed in his Weekend Reading that the folks at the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University had released an alpha “standalone” version of Zotero. Zotero has long been a ProfHacker favorite, and many of us here and elsewhere were excited to be able, finally, to use Zotero without using Firefox, the browser for which Zotero was originally designed as an extension.

And Zotero Standalone is indeed standalone. It looks exactly like the regular Zotero, but running in a separate, resizable window. After installing the “connectors” you can even save items to Zotero from Chrome or Safari, using the familiar icons that appear in those browsers’ location bar (Chrome) or main toolbar (Safari).

The Zotero team has provided a thorough introduction to the standalone Zotero, so there’s no need to duplicate those instructions here. However, it’s worth highlighting that this is an alpha release. In other words, it’s not a product you should use lightly. In fact, as Debbie Maron, the Community Lead for Zotero, puts it:

If you aren’t comfortable running early-stage software or are in the middle of an important project, we strongly recommend that you use the latest stable version of Zotero 2.0 for Firefox, available for download from Zotero’s home page.

Zotero Standalone uses the same database as Zotero for Firefox, so any changes you make in one will appear in the other (though they can’t both be open at the same time). Given the remote possibility that Standalone could corrupt your regular Zotero database, Maron recommends creating a new Firefox profile to experiment with Standalone.

As for me, I’ve been toying with Standalone, and I’ve encountered no problems. It’s a delight to see my Zotero library in a standalone window, rather than tucked into the bottom of my browser (though of course you can make the browser version full-size in a Firefox window too):

Zotero Standalone Library

Zotero Standalone Library

If you do try out Zotero Standalone, make sure you peruse the Zotero Forums for tips and troubleshooting, and also be prepared to submit any bug you encounter. Afterall, Zotero is open-source software, meaning we all have a stake in making it better.

What about you? Have you tried Zotero Standalone? What do you think so far?

[Disclosure: Like the creators of Zotero, my home institution is George Mason University. I'm also an affiliated faculty with CHNM as well. But I am otherwise absolutely, totally, unflinchingly unbiased here.]

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