I’ve been through a number of bibliography applications over the years. But never something as free and easy to use as Mendeley. In principle allows you to pick up the folder containing all your pdf references and simply drag and drop them to the local mendeley application. It does a good job in interpreting the documents and figuring out the bibliographical information. And then it connects the whole thing to your online profile, so that your synchronized reference library goes with you anywhere.
Maybe that is why it does not always work. I’ve found that pdf documents that are password protected (for instance limiting printing, like some of the OECD Read Only Publications), cause the application to crash. Undoubtedly this will be solved in one of the future releases.
It is free to use and download, but not open source. The Mendeley business model is based on storage, and the number of “private groups” that you want to create. The beauty of this is that they have found a legal way to bypass the costs that publishers still raise for accessing individual pdf’s. It has become just a matter of connecting to the right circles and you can download the pdf’s that is in someone else’s private group. A legal Napster for Scientists and Researchers, or so it seems.
Some warn against sharing your bibliography online, as it may lead others in highly competitive fields to make the links within the literature that you are working on, that you have only been able to make after much struggle. Most likely effect this is lost in the sheer volume of data that each of us upload when including our own reference lists.
All in all, it’s a very welcome development that seems to be in it’s final beta stage. They have money and business acumen to back them up, and I will not be suprised if they will actually manage to become a new Facebook for Journal Articles.