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PyMDECO - Python Meta Data Extractor and Collection Organizer library

Project Description

PyMDECO - Python Meta Data Extractor and Collection Organizer

PyMDECO is a library which aims to facilitate the metadata extraction, storage and manipulation of a large collection of photos and multimedia (audio and video) files. Rather than developing own metadata parsers for the multitude of file types, it depends on third-party libraries and tools to extract the metadata from the files.

Example usage

Example with a video file:

>>> from pymdeco import services
>>> srv = services.FileMetadataService()
>>> meta = srv.get_metadata('/tests/big_buck_bunny_720p_surround.avi')
>>> print(meta.to_json(indent=2)) # to pretty print the metadata
  "file_name": "big_buck_bunny_720p_surround.avi",
  "file_type": "video",
  "file_size": 332243668,
  "mime_type": "video/x-msvideo",
  "file_hash": {
    "value": "b957d6e6212638441b52d3b620af157cc8d40c2a0342669294854a06edcd528c",
    "algorithm": "sha256"
  "file_timestamps": {
    "modified": "2008-06-11 13:29:26",
    "created": "2008-06-11 13:29:26"
  "video_metadata": {
    "streams": [
        "sample_aspect_ratio": "1:1",
        "codec_type": "video",
        "codec_name": "mpeg4",
        "duration": "596.457",
        "nb_frames": "14315",
        "codec_time_base": "1/24",
        "index": 0,
        "width": 1280,
        "divx_packed": "0",
        "pix_fmt": "yuv420p",
# ... output truncated

Example with an audio file:

>>> meta = srv.get_metadata('/tests/jonobacon-freesoftwaresong2.mp3')
>>> print(meta.to_json(indent=2)) # to pretty print the metadata
  "file_name": "jonobacon-freesoftwaresong2.mp3",
  "file_type": "audio",
  "file_size": 3169160,
  "mime_type": "audio/mpeg",
  "file_hash": {
    "value": "d7ebc161d5d8fb802659fea949204af2958906b91913ca7577cfaeece90ffb78",
    "algorithm": "sha256"
  "file_timestamps": {
    "modified": "2012-01-09 20:02:23",
    "created": "2012-01-09 20:02:23"
  "audio_metadata": {
    "streams": [
        "index": 0,
        "sample_fmt": "s16",
        "codec_tag": "0x0000",
        "bits_per_sample": 0,
        "r_frame_rate": "0/0",
        "start_time": "0.000",
        "time_base": "1/14112000",
        "codec_tag_string": "[0][0][0][0]",
        "codec_type": "audio",
        "channels": 2,
        "codec_long_name": "MP3 (MPEG audio layer 3)",
        "codec_name": "mp3",
... # output truncated

Example with an image file:

>>> meta = srv.get_metadata('/tests/some_image.jpg')
>>> print(meta.to_json(indent=2)) # to pretty print the metadata
  "file_name": "some_image.jpg",
  "file_type": "image",
  "file_size": 159894,
  "mime_type": "image/jpeg",
  "file_hash": {
    "value": "844a8750f2c9e1a24175c8f158abb6d204ec2b79fc49aba512cded3cdb3a0111",
    "algorithm": "sha256"
  "file_timestamps": {
    "modified": "2012-01-09 20:43:12",
    "created": "2012-01-09 20:43:12"
  "image_metadata": {
    "Exif": {
      "Photo": {
        "LightSource": 0,
        "PixelXDimension": 900,
        "SubSecTime": "16",
    # ... output truncated ... Image details follow
      "Image": {
        "YResolution": 72,
        "ResolutionUnit": 2,
        "Orientation": 1,
        "Copyright": "Some Rights Reserved                                  ",
        "Artist": "Yovko Lambrev                       ",
        "Make": "NIKON CORPORATION",
        "DateTime": "2008-09-13 11:26:41",
    # ... output truncated ... XMP details follow
    "Xmp": {
      "iptc": {
        "CreatorContactInfo/Iptc4xmpCore:CiEmailWork": "",
        "CreatorContactInfo/Iptc4xmpCore:CiAdrCity": "Sofia",
        "CreatorContactInfo/Iptc4xmpCore:CiUrlWork": "",
        "CreatorContactInfo/Iptc4xmpCore:CiAdrCtry": "Bulgaria"
    # ... output truncated ... IPTC details follow
    "Iptc": {
      "Application2": {
        "CountryName": "['Bulgaria']",
        "Byline": "['Yovko Lambrev']",
        "BylineTitle": "['Photographer']",
    # ... output truncated

Example with a binary file:

>>> meta = srv.get_metadata('/tests/minimal_ubuntu_11.04_natty.iso')
>>> print(meta.to_json(indent=2)) # to pretty print the metadata
  "file_name": "minimal_ubuntu_11.04_natty.iso",
  "file_type": "application",
  "file_size": 19922944,
  "mime_type": "application/x-iso9660-image",
  "file_hash": {
    "value": "8607e2c06090db13b06a216efbeb65d7aeff4ca8666904e6874cf4a5960f2366",
    "algorithm": "sha256"
  "file_timestamps": {
    "modified": "2011-05-02 17:24:18",
    "created": "2011-05-02 17:24:18"

Example with the command line tool:

python -p /some/path


Getting the latest development version:

hg clone

Installing from source:

python install

Generating the HTML documentation:

python build_doc

If the installation is successfull the following code can be used to confirm the installation is ok and all dependencies are present:

Checking dependencies:

>>> from pymdeco.utils import check_dependencies
>>> print json.dumps(check_dependencies(), indent=2)
  "pyexiv2": "pyexiv2: 0.3.2",
  "ffprobe": "/usr/bin/ffprobe"

If any of the dictionary values are None, then PyMDECO is unable to find some of the dependencies.


  • Python 2.7+ or Python 3.2+
  • pyexiv2 library (which is the Python bidnings to exiv2). It is used to extract EXIF, XMP and IPTC tags from photos and images (JPEG, PNG, GIF, etc).
  • ffprobe binary (from ffmpeg suite version 0.9.0 or later) located in the system’s PATH. Older versions of the ffprobe (prior 0.9.x) cannot output in JSON format.
  • Sphinx (>= 1.0.0) - for building the documentation


After the installation of the library one please ensure that ffprobe executable is installed and available to the library (the executable file must be available in one of the directories listed in PATH environmental variable.

Refer to ffmpeg download page on the best way to install ffmpeg suite (which ffprobe is part of). Under Windows it is recommended to use the static version of the program.


Downloading the source and building the documentation (see Installation section) will create HTML version of the API documentation. The documentation includes tutorial which contains high-level overview of the library and examples showing how to use and extend it further.


PyMDECO is licenced under GNU LGPL (Lesser General Public License) version 3 or later. For details please refer to LICENSE.txt included in the source distribution.

Development and getting involved

This library is at early stage, but is already capable to do enough useful metadata collection. If you are interested in improving it further and want to get involved, please send a mail to pymdeco at googlegroups dot com.

History and future directions

The library was created out of necessity to manage large collection of photos (tens of thousands) and video clips (many thousands) collected over a large period of time from different sources and created by various models of photo cameras, camcorders and webcams.

I quickly found out that to identify duplicates and effectively manage the backups I needed good and reliable metadata handling and storage. After experimenting with half a dozen Python packages and tools I settled on building a common API which makes use of well-established third-party libraries and external tools.

So far only the metadata extraction part has been mostly completed, but development of some sort of persistent storage for that metadata is on the roadmap (involving the usage of MongoDB or Sqlite as potential backends). This persistent storage will be used to build collections with metadata and then constructing queries like “is this file already in the collection”, “is there a similar file in the collection”, “get all files with this metadata tag” or “list all the files created by the same device on the same date as this file”.

See TODO.txt for more details.

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