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A Translator Framework for Zotero


framework.js is a framework for writing Zotero translators, especially screen scrapers. It is intended to make it easier for new and experienced developers to write Zotero translators by removing as much boilerplate code as possible.


To use framework.js, paste the contents of the framework.js file into your translator, between the { ... } header and the code at the bottom. On Unix, you can use the Makefile to translate files into .js files. See, e.g., You will need to modify the FILES variable in the Makefile to include your target .js file.


See, e.g., the for an example. Between the boilerplate, you will see a Javascript object that looks like:

{ itemType         : 'newspaperArticle',
  title            : FW.Xpath('//head/meta[@name="title"]/@content').text(),
  publicationTitle : "San Francisco Chronicle",
  date             :
  creators         :
    FW.Xpath('//div[@class="articleheadings"]//p[@class="byline author vcard"]').
  attachments      : {
    url            : FW.Url(),
    title          : "SFGate Snapshot",
    type           : "text/html"

Each key, e.g., itemType or title, is generally a Zotero metadata field. Each value is either a string, in which case it never changes, a filter, or a function.

Filters are the primary way that metadata is generated. Filters start with a selector, which selects some part of the document. Often this is FW.Xpath, though we also see above FW.Url. The filter then contains a series of transformations which are performed on the list of results, finally resulting in what is added to the metadata field.

For instance, the creators metadata field above first selects all results from the document that match //div[@class="articleheadings"... as seen above. Following this, each result has its textcontent generated with the .text() filter. Then anything matching the regex /,.*$/ is removed. Finally the Zotero.utilities.cleanAuthor method is called with the arguments (string, "author"). The resulting strings (remember that there may have been multiple matches to the xpath expression) are added to the creators field of the generated Zotero item.


If multiple FW.Scrapers are defined, choosing good detect criteria is essential. The detect field is used to decide if a scraper should or should be used.

If the detect criteria evaluates to a non-empty array, that scraper is used for the page. If there is one scraper without a detect, it is always used. If there are multiple scrapers whose detects evaluate to non-empty or which have no detect, the behavior is undefined.


For more information, please contact Erik Hetzner at or the zotero-dev mailing list.


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