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Your Zotero Library on Your Android Phone with Zandy

Library Card CatalogueIt’s been years since I last used EndNote as my reference manager, but when I did, one of the features I appreciated most was its companion Palm app, allowing me to search, add to, and sync my EndNote library from my Palm Tungsten PDA (something else I haven’t used for years). Having all the sources in my citation library at my fingertips was incredibly useful, especially as I tracked down new sources at libraries and bookstores. Remember, this was in the days before ubiquitous wifi or smartphones.

Even now, there are many times when I need to look up a citation—or add a new one to my Zotero collection—and I don’t have ready access to a computer. What I needed was a Zotero app for my phone. I’m not the only one who wanted such a thing. Avram Lyon spent months “exhorting others to write clients for Zotero for platforms like Android and iOS” and when no one did, he wrote his own. Introducing Zandy, a Zotero app for Android devices.

If you use Zotero, chances are you’ve already encountered the work of Zandy’s developer. Many of the Zotero translators—the means by which Zotero grabs and interprets the citations for online journal articles and websites—were written by Avram Lyon. As part of Zotero’s open source community of developers, Lyon has made the source for Zandy available for free on GitHub, where you can also keep track of issues and features Lyon is working on. Or, you can help support Zandy’s development by investing in the $3.99 version on the Android marketplace. It’s worth mentioning that Zandy has no official connection with the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, the home of Zotero. Because Zotero has an open API, any developer can harness the underlying functions of the Zotero server—which helps to create a rich ecosystem of tools and applications around the service.

The current version of Zandy (v. 1.0.2) allows you to (1) connect with your Zotero library through Zotero’s API, (2) scroll through your collections and items, (3) edit some of the major fields of existing items, and (4) add new items by manually entering in the details (manually, as opposed to, say, scanning a barcode, which is the main function of the Scanner for Zotero app). For more information about Zandy, check out the Zandy User Guide.

While the current early version of Zandy already does most of the things I miss from my old EndNote Palm app, the future feature set is even more exciting. Lyon is working on better browsing and searching of items, as well as interface enhancements. (Right now, for example, it’s not clear when a sync has been completed). He’s also working on Zandy’s attachment handling. (Zandy 1.0.2 only syncs the item details and not any attachments, snapshots, or notes associated with the item.) Zandy only works on Android 2.2 and up, but Lyon would like to lower the specs so that it works on Android 1.6 and up—greatly expanding the number of users who could use the app. (And, opening up the possibility of using Zandy on rooted Nooks that run Android 2.1.)

The 1.1 release of Zandy is coming up, and you can track Zandy’s progress towards this milestone on GitHub. Lyon is already working on plans for the 1.2 release as well—sure signs that Zandy will only grow to be more powerful as a way to manage and use your Zotero collection on-the-go.

Card Catalog, Burrow Library photo courtesy of Ed Uthman / Creative Commons Licensed

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