From applications like RSS syndication, to building file catalogs of all kinds, it's helpful for XML developers to have access to file metadata or document properties usually associated with various content files. A peachy shareware utility from BlueChillies.com--itself a cool repository for shareware and freeware of all kinds, including a nice collection of XML tools--called Catalogue Files MetaData Miner 4.2 is worth experimenting with in this connection. For brevity's sake, I refer to the tool henceforth by its initials: CFMM.
For a relatively minor registration fee of US$58, XML developers can use CFMM on most Windows platforms (Windows Server 2003 is not specifically mentioned in the online listing for the tool at http://www.bluechillies.com/details/962.html, but given that the product works on every Windows platform starting from Windows 95 forward, it should work there, too; FWIW, my preliminary testing on Windows Server 2003 shows no obvious problems or compatibility issues). The program registers with the Add or Remove Programs applet in Control Panel, so you can even uninstall this widget without major discomfort or side effects should you try it and not like it enough to keep it around.
CFMM can grab metadata for the following types of files:
- MS Office (.doc, .dot, .xls, .ppt, and so forth)
- OpenOffice and StarOffice formats
- Visio documents
- JPEG image files
- Adobe XMP metadata from files from recent Adobe applications
You can use CFMM to build document catalogs, or to browse, print, or access files using catalog information or metadata through a browser. Using the program's Export functions, you can collect properties of files in directories, export that data in a simple XML, documented XML format, and apply XSL transformations to such XML exports. According to the utility's creator, using the metadata transformation functions for MS Office and Windows 2000 files, you can even apply updates to a set of documents within a collection of folders and subfolders (but I did not attempt to use this capability).
Content syndicators looking for easy ways to grab and use file metadata for descriptions or downloads will find this tool useful, as will those who manage or publish structured document collections whether for internal use only or for public access. This is definitely worth a download (visit the bluechillies.com URL to grab and play with this tool).
Ed Tittel is a 20-plus year veteran of the computing industry, who's worked as a programmer, manager, systems engineer, instructor, writer, trainer, and consultant. He's also the series editor of Que Certification's Exam Cram 2 and Training Guide series, and he writes and teaches regularly on Web markup languages and related topics.