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IMPORTANT! Please use conciliator instead, which does what refine_viaf does, plus more. This project is no longer being maintained.


refine_viaf implements a VIAF (Virtual International Authority File) Reconciliation Service for OpenRefine. This is used for resolving many types of names (ie. persons, organizations, geographic regions) to standard IDs representing those entities.

This project was rewritten in Java in Dec 2015. For more info, see this page. The old version written in Python is no longer being maintained, but can be found in the python-deprecated branch.


  • Support for the following types of names provided by VIAF: Corporate Names, Geographic Names, Personal Names, Works, Expressions

  • "Proxy mode" to retrieve IDs used by source institutions, instead of VIAF IDs. (NOTE: hyperlinks to source record pages in OpenRefine are supported for BNE, DNB, ICCU, JPG, LC, NDL, SELIBR, SUDOC, and WKP. Links are BROKEN for BNC, BNF, DBC, and NUKAT. For all other sources, the links will take you to the VIAF page.)

  • Good performance (uses threads; stable memory usage; caches results)

  • Super easy to run

Public Server

If your needs are low and you can't or don't want to run this software yourself, you can use the public server at Visit that address for more instructions.

Running the Service on Your Computer

Install Java 1.7 or greater if you don't already have it.

Download the .jar file for the latest release. Alternatively, you can download the source code tarball or clone this repository, and build the .jar file using maven.

Run this command:

java -jar refine_viaf-1.5.2.jar

That's it! You should see some messages as the application starts up. Now you're ready to configure OpenRefine to use the service. When you're done with it, hit Ctrl-C to quit the application.

Configuring OpenRefine

  1. In OpenRefine, chose a column of names you want to reconcile, and select "Reconcile" and "Start Reconciling..." in the column pull-down menu.

  2. Click "Add Standard Service..."

  3. To reconcile against names from any VIAF source, type in:


    To reconcile against a specific VIAF source, append its code to the end of the path. For example, to search only names from the Bibliothèque nationale de France, type in:


    To retrieve the IDs used by source institutions, rather than VIAF IDs, use "proxy mode." For example, to search only names from the Library of Congress and retrieve their IDs, type in:

  4. Follow the instructions on the dialog box to start reconciling names.

Advanced Usage

To build from the source code, install maven and type:

mvn package

If you want to host this software on a server for long-term usage or if you want to enable logging for debugging purposes, take a look at for some helpful options.

You can change several run-time options (including the service name that appears in OpenRefine and turning caching on/off) by editing the file.


Specification for the Reconciliation Service API:

This code drew inspiration from these other projects:

Do you use this thing??

If so, please take a few seconds to leave a comment on this page. Hearing from users really motivates me to continue improving this project.


This code is distributed under a GNU General Public License. See the file LICENSE for details.


No longer maintained. Please use conciliator instead.







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