use zotero to embed metadata in pdf

I've got a relatively small pdf library (only 150 pdfs) but since my library is expanding and probably won't stop expanding in the near future I'm going to need a very intelligent way to manage my pdfs. I've been using Zotero for about a year now, and love it, but it is not quite the file management system I anticipate needing. But I can't find a product better suited, there are a few things that would turn Zotero into my ideal file management system.
Firstly the ability to open as a stand alone app. (i believe something like this is in the works for the newer versions).
Next, I would like to embed and read embedded metadata in the actual pdf. I know this is possible using XMP, and ideally that the pdf provider would provide a pdf with intelligent metadata already embedded, sadly many don't.
Finally, the many times mentioned topic, I'd like to be able to auto-rename linked files (stored in a personal folder outside zotero) intelligently, with meaningful names.
  • Have you looked at CB2BIB ( ? It unfortunately doesn't (to my knowledge), solve the XMP problem , though.
  • As I've noted before, there's a case to be made for making it possible for end-users to knit other tools into zotero, rather than have zotero try and do everything itself. As the number of desired functions increases, it will be impossible for the zotero devs to manage them all, and undesirable for them to dilute their time trying.

    Would it be possible to have pre- and post- processing stages exposed to external applications during captures, exports, bibliography creation, etc? Many LaTeX editors (eg. Kile) manage this kind of thing very well.
  • Indeed, these functions may well expand the Zotero project out of its scope, but I think there are two problems with end user tools.
    The first, is that end users (like me) may want a function but not be technically capable enough to create it.
    And once said function is created, whose job is it to ensure that later updates to zotero don't break that function. Asking Zotero project managers to ensure this would probably limit the development of zotero itself which would be undesirable. but then adding functions to zotero becomes like having a child, there's not only the great labour involved in creation, but it also require maintenance for the next 20 years. And which end user is really that dedicated to the project?

    James Howison makes some good points in his paper "Why can’t I manage academic papers like MP3s?" (

    I feel zotero is in the position to make a major contribution to these problems.

    CB2BIB is not quite what I'm after, I'm after a major fix, not a further tool to aid the fumbling.

    pdfspot on sourceForge may be somewhat more like it, but is in pre-Alpha atm.
  • JabRef will do this -- not that that solves the problem of doing it in Zotero, but it suggests that it shouldn't be too hard? (JabRef is GPL too, so one can look at its guts to see what it does ...)
  • (JabRef is GPL too, so one can look at its guts to see what it does ...)
    If anyone is interested in taking this project, you should note that Zotero's license will prevent any re-use of GPLed code.

    Jabref has a basic overview of XMP support & the links there are useful.
  • If anyone is interested in taking this project, you should note that Zotero's license will prevent any re-use of GPLed code.
    I looked at the License, and it's the Educational Community License, and I don't see anything that would prevent the re-use of GLPed code. Please let me know if I'm incorrect about this, but I was under the impression that as long as you include "Any pre-existing intellectual property disclaimers, notices, or terms and conditions," you should be fine...
  • I am not a lawyer.

    It is not possible to relicense GPL code under the ECL unless you are the copyright owner (per license requirements in the GPL, itself; you may be able to migrate to a newer version of the GPL or to the Affero GPL, but that's it).

    It is probably possible, however, to use ECL code in a GPLed project )per the terms you highlighted.

    GPL is "strong copyleft" (some go so far as to say "viral"). ECL is a non-copyleft free license.
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