A while ago, I mentioned in a thread on the mailing list that I was working
on a new bibliographic rendering for the SBL citation style. After
additional testing and implementation of various features (e.g., an
authorconversion that inverts the first author and prints all subsequent
authors in normal order, an author-title sort order for bibliographic
entries, support for shorthands/abbreviations, support for Citation Style
Language locators, and support for biblatex-style citation macros that
intelligently move punctuation that follows them). While optimizations for
performance, simplifications of the code, and new feature additions are
still desirable, the module is in working condition and can now be
incorporated in a future ConTeXt update. The new .lua and .mkvi files for
the SBL rendering, updated publ-aut.lua and publ-imp-author.mkvi files, and
some new code intended to be incorporated into publ-ini.lua and
publ-ini.mkiv can all be found in project GitHub repo at the

While I worked on this module, Denis Maier (who provided valuable feedback
and suggestions throughout) and I put together a wish list of new features
we would like to see implemented in the publications support core modules.
We put together the list with Hans and Alan in mind, but any help is
appreciated! The list follows:

   - Probably the most urgent need is for field inheritance mappings
   through crossrefs to be fixed. These should be customizable in
   bibliographic specification .lua files (e.g., publ-imp-sbl.lua), or at the
   very least, they should follow the pattern of biblatex. As it is currently
   implemented, field inheritance seems to map any field from the
   cross-referenced entry to a field *of the same name* in the current
   entry if it doesn't have a field of this name already. But this causes
   serious problems when one needs to check if an entry has a given field
   (such as "shorthand") at all; specifically, the \btxdoif macro will execute
   its argument if the current entry *or any entry it cross-references*
   contains a field with that name. What we want is a more disambiguated
   mapping of inherited fields: for many common entry types (such as @book,
   @collection, @reference, @proceedings, and @inbook, @incollection,
   @inreference, and @inproceedings), biblatex maps the title field of the
   cross-referenced entry to a different-named field in the lower-level entry
   (e.g., maintitle -> booktitle -> title, maineditor -> bookeditor -> editor,
   - A mechanism for setting default field values (e.g., "pagination",
   "options") by category in the .lua file for a given specification. (In the
   SBL spec, for instance, an entry of category @ancienttext or @classictext
   should have options={skipbib=true} by default.) If the user actually
   specifies this field in an entry, then the default value would be
   - If it hasn't been done already, the \btxdoifelsecitedone macro defined
   in the cont-new.mkiv file in https://github.com/jjmccollum/context-sbl
   should be implemented in publ-ini.lua and publ-ini.mkiv.
   - Related to the previous entry, the ability to remove existing entry
   tags from the "collected" or "tobesaved" lists defined in publ-ini.lua.
   This would allow us to override the usual list registry rules of \cite
   based on the values of, say, an entry's category, "type" field or "options"
   - General support for the useauthor, useeditor, usetranslator, skipbib,
   and skipbiblist entry options from biblatex. These could be implemented as
   citation-level btx options (currently, useauthor already is implemented for
   the SBL style).
   - Support for disambiguation in "author" citations made with the "name"
   authorconversion. Publications support already allows us to map different
   versions of the same name (e.g., "John Doe" and "J. Doe" to a single value.
   But ideally, the publications support module should also check if surnames
   are shared by distinct authors, and if so, it should then check for
   distinct first and middle initials, and then distinct full names, until it
   finds a difference. The shortest distinct renderings should then be used
   for the "name" authorconversion. Different bibliographic renderings have
   different rules for this, so implementations of these different rules
   (detailed at
   would be ideal.
   - General support for *ibidem* (same entry), *idem* (same author), and *op.
   cit.* (same title) tracking in the publ-ini module. These could be
   implemented with default settings that could be overridden as needed in
   individual specifications. Following biblatex, the user should be able to
   specify yes/no "ibidtracker", "idemtracker", and "opcittracker" options via
   \setupbtx. The publ-ini.mkiv file already defines macros like
   \btxdoifsameaspreviouscheckedelse, \btxdoifsameaspreviouselse, and
   \btxdoifcombiinlistelse to help with this sort of thing in the
   bibliographic list, but we'd like something analogous for inline citations.
   Specifically, we'd like a way to retrieve (or compare) the tag, author, and
   title of the last entry cited in the current mode (where the mode may be in
   the main document or a footnote/endnote). A further \btxsetup option could
   control how locally the tracking should be done (i.e., if the trackers
   should reset at the start of a new chapter, new section, new page, etc.).
   In addition, it would also be good to copy the \mancite command from
   biblatex, which manually resets these trackers when it is invoked.
   - General support for CSL locator macros, whose basic usage is described
   in https://pandoc.org/MANUAL.html#citation-syntax. The citation style
   locales defined at https://github.com/citation-style-language/locales
   have been defined for various languages already, and their
   printed renderings can be implemented according to individual
   specifications (perhaps using the language-dependent \setupbtxlabeltext
   macro). A template for this can be found in the SBL rendering at
   - ConTeXt might benefit from a predefined parenthetical delimitedtext
   environment similar to "quotation" and "quote". Currently, I define such an
   environment in publ-imp-sbl.mkvi as follows:

   % Nested parentheses (used for things like publisher and institution
   blocks) should alternate between proper parentheses and brackets
   \setupdelimitedtext[paren:2][left={[}, right={]}]
   \setupdelimitedtext[paren:4][left={[}, right={]}]

   But a general environment of this nature (perhaps supporting alternating
   parentheses/brackets to arbitrary depth?) may be useful for other citations
   styles and more general typesetting purposes, as well.
   - Per a discussion I had earlier with Hans, a language-specific
   mechanism for moving trailing punctuation after a \quotation or \quote
   block so that it is inside that block (in accordance with "American"
   punctuation rules) would be helpful.
   - The ConTeXt distribution should be updated to include the authortitle
   sort method in publ-aut.lua and the invertedfirst authorconversion setups
   in publ-imp-author.mkvi. These are already defined in the copies of these
   files in the sbl-context GitHub repo.
   - Optimized implementations in the ConTeXt core for the following
   macros, some unoptimized versions of which are defined in publ-imp-sbl.mkvi
   (at https://github.com/jjmccollum/context-sbl):
      - \doifprefix, \doifprefixelse, and \doifnotprefix
      - \doifsuffix, \doifsuffixelse, and \doifnotsuffix (the
      \btx_sbl_doifendswithpunct macro is a more specific template for this; if
      you think the punctuation-specific macros would also be useful
in general,
      then they could be implemented in the core, as well)
   - The "\clf_" macros mentioned in the "NOTE FOR HANS" near the start
   of publ-imp-sbl.mkvi should be accessible through exposed helper functions.

Many of these features (and some others that are specific to the SBL
rendering) are marked with "TODO" notes in publ-imp-sbl.mkvi.

I'm getting ready to start my PhD research in a few months, so I don't
expect to have as much time to develop the SBL rendering in the near
future, but I can try to patch things up as needed if anyone runs into any
problems in the near-term.

Thanks to everyone on the mailing list who answered my questions throughout
this process and for your continuing help in the future!

If your question is of interest to others as well, please add an entry to the 

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