JabRef 4.0

Before updating, read the important notes below!

Finally, we are proud to announce JabRef 4.0! This major release comes almost two years after JabRef 3.0 and more than half a year after the latest stable release JabRef 3.8.2. Back in October 2003, when Morten Alver made the first commit (he used Subversion back then) on he surely didn’t imagine that this project would grow to such popularity and stand the test of time even 14 years later.

During the time we constantly improved not only the codebase, but most important the user experience and fixed plenty of bugs and implemented new features. We want to thank all developers, contributors, translators, and users for the work and feedback!

Out of many, we want to mention two maintainer alummns by name: Oscar Gustafsson and Simon Harrer. Both have achieved enormous contributions (totalling 1695 commits / 604,885 ++ / 616,924 –) during the last years and have immensely shaped the development of JabRef. Thank you very much and good luck with your future endeavors!

The sheer age of this piece of software required to do some technological renovations, which is our largest challenge these days: Transitioning the user interface to JavaFX. The goal is to provide a modern, platform independent User Interface which is also suited for high dpi screens. As the new technology is a major step, we change the user interface part by part, so you still might encounter some bugs from he interplay with the old and new technology.

New Features

  • The groups interface, the entry editor and some minor UI elements have been migrated to JavaFx.
  • You can view attached PDF files using an internal document viewer (accessible using: View -> Show document viewer)
  • There are new tabs in the entry editor with new functionalities:
    • File annotations: If you have attached a PDF file to an entry, annotations in the document are shown (hightlights, comments, etc.)
    • Related articles: In cooperation with the paper recommender system Mr.DLib we show (potentially) related articles (Note: upon accessing this tab the title of the currently selected entry will be submitted to the Mr.DLib service)
    • MathSciNet: The MathSciNet review website is shown if the MRNumber field is present
  • Complete new implementation of the the auto complete feature.
  • The content selector feature has been reworked: Field content can now be selected via the auto completion instead of via drop down menus
  • If fetched article is already in database, then the entry merge dialog is shown.
  • Added ‘Filter All’ and ‘Filter None’ buttons with corresponding functionality to the quality check tool (accessible via Quality -> Check integrity).
  • Finally, JabRef has a new logo! The logo was designed by “AikTheOne” - who was the winner of a design contest at

IMPORTANT NOTES – Read before installing

It is ALWAYS advisable to create a backup of your BibTeX/BibLaTeX database before performing an update.

Groups format

The group storage format has been changed, which means that after opening (and saving) a *.bib library created with an older version of JabRef the format will be changed to the new one. That especially means that the groups will be no longer readable in older JabRef version.

Installation notes

We recommend the usage of the latest Oracle Java 1.8 Runtime/Development Environment. The JavaFX technology is part of the Oracle Java Runtimes since the versions 1.8.0_60.

However, in case you are using the open source variant OpenJDK, JavaFX has to be installed by a separate package OpenJFX. More information is available on our installation help page.

Due to the usage of external libraries, JabRef cannot be run with Java 1.9. This is on the road map for the upcoming release.

An overview of all new features and fixes can be found as usual in the changelog at GitHub.

You can get the 4.0 version at Fosshub - or at the release section at GitHub.

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.