Feature of the Week

10.4: PDF Metadata

| Feature of the Week

As we discussed a few years back, PDF files often contain embedded metadata that helps you get more information about them beyond just what’s visible on their pages. These metadata fields give you some context regarding the file, including things like who created it, what it’s about, and whether or not it’s password-protected. Unlike forScore’s metadata fields, which are far more detailed and specific to music, PDF metadata is more generic and written into the file itself so no matter which device or operating system you use to view it, that information is always there.

Since version 1.6, forScore has had the ability to read and adopt some of this information for use within its own fields. Title, Author, and Subject can be interpreted as a score’s title, composer(s), and genre(s). To convey extra information, we used specially-formatted keywords (such as “forScore-rating:5” or “forScore-difficulty:3”).

Over time, we added new metadata fields to forScore like duration and key, but there was no way for forScore to store or read these values from PDF files. With forScore 10.4 we knew we wanted to add support for these types of data, but we also wanted to take the opportunity to rethink how we store them and what they’re called—to formalize them and make them more universal. A keyword called “forScore-duration:92” might work fine for us, but it doesn’t exactly help you when you’re using other apps.

With forScore 10.4, these special keywords have been updated and expanded to reflect many of the common pieces of information musicians need to know about their scores. We think this new approach could become a de facto standard, so we put together a page that explains the rules and usage of PDF metadata in the context of sheet music. You can learn more about it here, and if you use another app (like a musical composition app) that creates PDF files and you think they could benefit from this information, pass it along!