TWiki Meta Data

Topic data not editable from main freeform text box, stored in name/value META variable pairs


TWikiMetaData uses META variables to store topic data that's separate from the main free-form content. This includes program-generated info like FileAttachment data, and user-defined Form Template info.

Meta Data Syntax

  • Format is the same as in TWikiVariables, except all fields have a key.
    • %META:<type>{key1="value1" [key2="value2" [...]]}%

  • Order of fields within the meta variables is not defined, except that if there is a field with key name, this appears first for easier searching (note the order of the variables themselves is defined).

  • Each meta variable is on one line.

  • \n (new line) is represented in values by %_N_ and " (double-quotes) by %_Q_%.

Example of Format
%<nop>META:TOPICINFO{version="1.6" date="976762663" author="PeterThoeny" format="1.0"}%
   text of the topic
%<nop>META:TOPICMOVED{from="Codev.OldName" to="CoDev.NewName"
   by="JohnTalintyre" date="976762680"}%
%<nop>META:FILEATTACHMENT{name="Sample.txt" version="1.3" ... }%
%<nop>META:FILEATTACHMENT{name="Smile.gif" version="1.1" ... }%
%<nop>META:FIELD{name="OperatingSystem" value="OsWin"}%
%<nop>META:FIELD{name="TopicClassification" value="PublicFAQ"}%


The current version of Meta Data is 1.0, with support for the following variables.


Key Comment
version Same as RCS version
date integer, unx time, seconds since start 1970
author last to change topic, is the REMOTE_USER
format Format of this topic, will be used for automatic format conversion


This is optional, exists if topic has ever been moved. If a topic is moved more than once, only the most recent TOPICMOVED meta variable exists in the topic, older ones are to be found in the rcs history.

%META:TOPICMOVED{from="Codev.OldName" to="CoDev.NewName" by="talintj" date="976762680"}%

Key Comment
from Full name i.e. web.topic
to Full name i.e. web.topic
by Who did it, is the REMOTE_USER, not WikiName
date integer, unx time, seconds since start 1970


  • at present version number is not supported directly, it can be inferred from the RCS history.
  • there is only one META:TOPICMOVED in a topic, older move information can be found in the RCS history.


Key Comment
name The topic from which this was created, WebHome if done from Go, othewise topic where ? or form used. Normally just topic, but is full web.topic format if parent is in a different Web. Renaming a Web will then only break a few of these references or they can be scanned and fixed.


Key Comment
name Name of file, no path. Must be unique within topic
version Same as RCS revision
path Full path file was loaded from
size In bytes
date integer, unx time, seconds since start 1970
user the REMOTE_USER, not WikiName
comment As supplied when file uploaded
attr h if hidden, optional

Extra fields that are added if an attachment is moved:

movedfrom full topic name - web.topic
movedby the REMOTE_USER, not WikiName
movedto full topic name - web.topic
moveddate integer, unx time, seconds since start 1970


Key Comment
name A topic name - the topic is a Form Template. Can optionally include the web name i.e. web.topic, but doesn't normally


Should only be present if there is a FORM entry. Note that this data is used when viewing a topic, the form template definition is not read.

KeySorted ascending Name
name Ties to entry in Form Template, is title with all bar alphanumerics and . removed
title Full text from Form Template
value Value user has supplied via form

Recommended Sequence

There no absolute need for meta data variables to be in a specific order, however, it does for the following reasons:

  • Keep (form) fields in the order they are defined
  • Allow diff command to give output in a logically sensible order

These could be done in other ways, but this adds complexity

  • Order fields - definition could be read on each rendering (expensive)
  • Diff - render data before doing diff, has something to offer, but not likely to be available for next TWiki release

So the order is:

  • text of topic
  • TOPICMOVED - optional
  • TOPICPARENT - optional
  • FILEATTACHMENT - 0 or more entries
  • FORM - optional
  • FIELD - 0 or more entries (FORM required)

Viewing Meta Data in Page Source

When viewing a topic the Raw Text link can be clicked to show the text of a topic (ie: as seen when editing). This is done by adding raw=on to URL. raw=debug shows the meta data as well as the topic data, ex: debug view for this topic

Rendering Meta Data

Meta Data is rendered with the %META% variable. This is mostly used in the view, preview and edit scripts.

Current support is fairly basic:

Variable usage: Comment:
%META{"form"}% Show form data, see Form Templates
%META{"attachments"}% Show attachments, exclude hidden
Options for attachments:  
all="on" Show ALL attachments (including hidden)
%META{"moved"}% Details of any topic moves
%META{"parent [options]"}% Show topic parent
Options for parent:  
dontrecurse="on" By default recurses up tree, at some cost
prefix="..." Prefix for parents, only if there are parents; default ""
suffix="..." Suffix, only appears if there are parents; default ""
seperator="..." Separator between parents, default is " > "

  • Future Development: There are numerous development directions and specific features to consider. A couple of obvious possibilities:
    • Rendering to formats other than tables: bullet lists, formatted body text;
    • Specifying templates to be used for rendering.

Known Issues

There is currently no support for meta data for Plugins. However, the format is readily extendable and the code that supports the format needs only minor alteration.

-- JohnTalintyre - 29 Aug 2001

This topic: TWiki > WebHome > TWikiMetaData
Topic revision: r3 - 2001-09-07 - MikeMannix
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