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Produces textual information based on the contents of OpenDocument Format files and other archives.

Project Description

Produces textual information based on the contents of OpenDocument Format files and other archives.

The information produced includes metadata like the names, uncompressed size, and modification times of archive members.

A checksum is calculated, and basic filetype detection performed on each.

For each member determined to contain UTF-8 text, the lines in the file are output.

odfit is similar in purpose but different in operation, and in its level of detail, to tools like odt2txt which output a text-mode rendering of the archive as a document.

This means that it presents a much more complete set of data, including embedded macros, formatting, and other details.

Information on binary files is limited to metadata and hashes, including a SHA1 checksum.

XML files will be pretty-printed so as to make their contents more readily diff-able.


The odfit script can make do with the standard library’s complement of modules.

It will attempt to make use of the lxml package for XML pretty-printing, but will fall back to standard library modules if necessary.

So it should be possible to use odfit with any Python 2.6 or later, without requiring installation.

This means that the executable module file can be distributed with source repos with some reliability.

Pythons older than 2.6 may also work, but the script has not been tested with them.

If lxml is available, XML processing will be faster (> 3x) and more robust when dealing with incorrect or incomplete XML.

In addition to running the script directly, the module can be installed from source or via PyPI. This will cause an equivalent script to be installed system-wide, enabling the command odfit on the system path.


odfit is a command-line tool.

To get a listing of the members of an archive, run e.g.

$ odfit some_file.odt

For a typical OpenOffice document, this will produce many lines of data.

odfit is mostly intended for use with version control systems like git, in order to identify changes between versions of OpenDocument Format files.

For example, with git 1.6.1 or later, setting up a repo to use odfit to generate git diff listings can be accomplished by

  • adding lines to .git/config or equivalent to set the textconv option for the odf driver name:

    [diff "odf"]
        textconv=odfit -D
  • associating the various ODF filetypes with the odf driver name by adding lines like the following to a .gitattributes file in the repo working tree or in .git/info/attributes:

    *.odt diff=odf
    *.ods diff=odf
    *.odp diff=odf
    *.odb diff=odf

The -D option to odfdump instructs it to omit the timestamp of each archive member. OpenOffice seems to reset this timestamp for all members whenever it saves a new version of a document. Because of this, this piece of data is not meaningful and shouldn’t normally be displayed as part of a diff. For this reason, I expect that -D should normally be passed when generating a dump for the purposes of diffing.

More info (based on using odt2txt instead of odfit) is available from the git wiki.

odfit is also suitable for use with other pkzip-formatted archives. See the note about filetype detection in BUGS, ISSUES, and WARNINGS.


Metadata Header

Output for each contained file will consist of a series of header lines, each prefixed with the member filename and a colon followed by two spaces. For example:

path/to/member/file:  date_time: 2010-10-12T21:32:24
path/to/member/file:  file_size: 42
path/to/member/file:  CRC: 4144865272

Each line contains a name/value pair delimited by an additional colon and space.

The metadata included in the header is that stored in the archive file itself, plus the exception of the sha1 element, which is calculated by odfit from the archive member’s data.

Not all member attributes are dumped. The attributes which are dumped if nonempty for a given archive member are:

  • timestamp: date_time
  • comment
  • extra
  • file_size
  • CRC-32 checksum: CRC

The timestamp will only be output if the -D option has not been passed on the command line.

After these attributes, two more header lines will be output, containing the member’s SHA-1 hash and the detected filetype. The detected filetype will be either binary, utf-8 (which subsumes ASCII), or unknown.

Content section

After the header, printable files (those whose filetype is utf-8) will have their content dumped.

The output for the content section is similar to that used for the header section.

Rather than name/value pairs, lines of the file are output.

The delimiter between filename and content is two colons and a space.

For example:

path/to/member/file:: The first line of the file
path/to/member/file:: The second line of the file
path/to/member/file:: The third line of the file

A file is assumed to be printable if it is not detected as binary. See filetype detection for more information.

XML Files

The content of files whose names end in .xml will be passed through an XML tidying routine before being dumped.

This is intended to make the output more diff-able by splitting long lines containing multiple elements.

The presence of files containing poorly-formed XML may result in errors because of this. This should not be a problem for documents created with OpenOffice.


  • Binary filetype detection uses the same stupid algorithm as git diff: scanning for nulls within the first 8000 bytes of the file. This works well enough with ASCII or UTF-8 text, but will falsely detect as binary files in encodings such as UTF-16.
  • There are no plans to guarantee consistency between versions. So a dump created with an older version of odfit shouldn’t be compared with a dump created with a newer version. Even with the same version of odfit, dumps of the same document may differ because of different dependencies: odfit will use different XML packages depending on what is locally installed, and the pretty-printed output of XML files will vary depending on the XML package used. The lxml package will be used if it is locally available.
  • The output format is intended only for reading and comparison purposes. It is not intended to be a reversable translation of the original, even for archives which contain only text files. In particular, filenames containing ‘:’ characters are not properly escaped. There will be additional ambiguities in dumps from files containing members with identical filenames.
  • I haven’t yet checked to see if the order of members of an odf file is stable. odfit currently does not sort the members before outputting them: member output is done in archive file order. This means that comparison of dumps of equivalent documents may end up showing significant differences.
  • There are many performance optimizations which could be put in place, particularly if the script were to be reworked as a diff routine. Having knowledge of both of the compared documents would allow odfit to, for example, only output XML for files which have changed. It’s also very unlikely that a SHA-1 comparison will detect changes that a CRC-32 comparison does not.
  • odfit is not tested with Python versions other than 2.6. This means that there’s little guarantee that it will work on any particular system, since 2.5 and even 2.4 are not uncommon in the field.


odfit is copyright 2010 by Ted Tibbetts and is licensed under the FreeBSD license.

See the file COPYING for details.

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