Metadata in ODF Files

Final Thoughts and Warnings and a Request

In general, metadata hacking has issues that have nothing to do with the code or with ODF, as such. As Spider-Man's Uncle Ben would put it (and Voltaire did), "With great power comes great responsibility." Years ago, in a discussion over this same topic, someone commented "maybe we shouldn't teach our documents lying." Use the techniques you learned here responsibly. Be aware that digital signatures are the only way to guarantee that no part of an ODF file has been modified.

Last, but not least, even other parts of an ODF file contain stuff that maybe should count as metadata, even some people (including me, to some extent) may disagree: I'm talking of multiple revisions, but also of hidden paragraphs (or cells in spreadsheets), and of the content, author, and timestamps of embedded comments. All of this stuff may still be analyzed or "updated" with the same general approach presented here, thanks to the ODF format's openness and simplicity, but that is a different problem left as an exercise for the reader, with the suggestion that you use my ODF scripting examples [3] as a basis.

What's left? The request, of course: Please share how you use or modify these scripts for your own ODF metadata processing!

The Author

Marco Fioretti ( is a freelance author, trainer, and researcher based in Rome, Italy. He has been working with free/open source software since 1995 and on open digital standards since 2005. Marco also is a Board Member of the Free Knowledge Institute (

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