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We’re in the process of updating the documentation for Zotero 5.0. Some documentation may be outdated in the meantime. Thanks for your understanding.

LibreOffice Plugin Wire Protocol

The LibreOffice plugin uses a simple wire protocol to communicate with Zotero. (The Word for Mac and Word for Windows plugins both run in process, and use AppleEvents and COM respectively to communicate with the word processor.) The below documentation applies to Zotero LibreOffice Integration 3.5.3 and newer.

Basics

The Firefox or Zotero Standalone process operates a server on port 23116, which the extension residing within LibreOffice connects to. All frames consist of a 32 bits specifying the transaction ID, a big-endian 32-bit integer specifying the length of the payload, and the payload itself, which is either UTF-8 encoded JSON or an unescaped string beginning with “ERR:”.

There are two types of commands: integration command, sent by the word processor to Zotero initiate an operation (e.g., to add a new citation), and word processor commands, sent from Zotero to the word process to retrieve data from a document or to make changes to the document. Integration commands are sent from the word processor to Zotero, and must never receive a response. Word processor commands are sent from Zotero to the word processor, and must always receive a response.

Transaction ID

The transaction ID allows Zotero to determine whether the given frame is a response to another frame. When the client sends an integration command, it must send 0 as the transaction ID. Word processor commands always specify a non-zero transaction ID, and the response to these commands must maintain the same transaction ID.

An example

In order to add a citation to a document, LibreOffice sends the following:

                TRANS ID    LENGTH      PAYLOAD
HEXADECIMAL     00 00 00 00 00 00 00 0C 22 61 64 64 43 69 74 61 74 69 6F 6E 22
INTERPRETATION  0           11          "addCitation"

Zotero then responds by asking for the active document, and supplying the API version it supports:

                TRANS ID    LENGTH      PAYLOAD
HEXADECIMAL     00 00 00 01 00 00 00 24 5B 22 41 70 70 6C 69 63 61 74 69 6F (...)
INTERPRETATION  1           36          ["Application_getActiveDocument", 3]

The client then sends a response consisting of the API version it supports and the document ID:

                TRANS ID    LENGTH      PAYLOAD
HEXADECIMAL     00 00 00 01 00 00 00 24 5B 33 2C 20 31 5D
INTERPRETATION  1           6           [3, 1]

You can observe frame payloads sent between Zotero and LibreOffice in the Zotero debug output.

Integration Commands

These commands are sent from the word processor to Zotero, and do not receive a response. The command payload is always a quoted string.

Command Description
“addCitation” Add a new citation
“editCitation” Edit an existing citation
“addBibliography” Add a new bibliography
“editBibliography” Edit an existing bibliography
“refresh” Refresh all fields in the document, verifying that they match expectations
“removeCodes” Remove field codes from the document
“setDocPrefs” Change the citation style or other document parameters

Word Processor Commands

These commands are sent from Zotero to the word processor. They must always receive a response. The command payload is always JSON-encoded in the form

[COMMAND_NAME, [...PARAMETERS...]]

If the request is successful, the client must send a response with a JSON-encoded payload. This response is often null if the command returns no output, but may also be an array, an integer, a string, or a boolean value depending on the command.

If the request is unsuccessful, the client must send a response with the payload:

ERR:(Error string goes here).

Zotero will cancel the current operation, log this error, and present it to the user using the Document_displayAlert command if possible. If the subsequent Document_displayAlert command fails, Zotero will present the error using its own dialog box.

Application_getActiveDocument

Gets information about the client and the currently active document.

Parameters

protocolVersion int The version of the wire protocol supported by Zotero. Since Zotero determines whether the client's protocol version is compatible and shows an appropriate error if necessary, it is unlikely that the client needs to make use of this.

Returns

protocolVersion Integer The version of the protocol supported by the client.
documentID Integer|String An ID corresponding to the document that is currently active

Document_displayAlert

Shows an alert.

Parameters

documentID Integer|String The documentID, as originally returned by Application_getActiveDocument
dialogText String The text to display inside the dialog.
icon Integer One of:
DIALOG_ICON_STOP = 0
DIALOG_ICON_NOTICE = 1
DIALOG_ICON_CAUTION = 2
buttons Integer One of:
DIALOG_BUTTONS_OK = 0
DIALOG_BUTTONS_OK_CANCEL = 1
DIALOG_BUTTONS_YES_NO = 2
DIALOG_BUTTONS_YES_NO_CANCEL = 3

Returns

(Integer) The index of the button pressed, according to the value of buttons sent as a parameter.

DIALOG_BUTTONS_OK
OK = 1
DIALOG_BUTTONS_OK_CANCEL
CANCEL = 0
OK = 1
DIALOG_BUTTONS_YES_NO
NO = 0
YES = 1
DIALOG_BUTTONS_YES_NO_CANCEL
CANCEL = 0
NO = 1
YES = 2

Document_activate

Brings the document to the foreground. This is a no-op on non-Mac systems.

Parameters

0 documentID Integer|String The documentID, as originally returned by Application_getActiveDocument

Returns

null

Document_canInsertField

Indicates whether a field can be inserted at the current cursor position.

Parameters

0 documentID Integer|String The documentID, as originally returned by Application_getActiveDocument

Returns

(Boolean) Whether a field can be inserted.

Document_setDocumentData

Stores a document-specific persistent data string. This data contains the style ID and other user preferences.

Parameters

(Array)

0 documentID Integer|String The documentID, as originally returned by Application_getActiveDocument
1 dataString String The data string

Returns

null

Document_getDocumentData

Retrieves data string set by setDocumentData.

Parameters

0 documentID Integer|String The documentID, as originally returned by Application_getActiveDocument

Returns

(String) The document data string.

Document_cursorInField

Indicates whether the cursor is in a given field. If it is, returns information about that field.

Parameters

0 documentID Integer|String The documentID, as originally returned by Application_getActiveDocument
1 fieldType String The type of field used by the document, either ReferenceMark or Bookmark

Returns

Either null, indicating that the cursor isn't in a field, or (Array)

0 fieldID Integer|String A unique identifier corresponding to this field
1 fieldCode Integer|String The code stored within this field
2 noteIndex Integer The number of the footnote in which this field resides, or 0 if the field is not in a footnote.

Document_insertField

Inserts a new field at the current cursor position.

Parameters

0 documentID Integer|String The documentID, as originally returned by Application_getActiveDocument
1 fieldType String The type of field used by the document, either ReferenceMark or Bookmark
2 noteType Integer The type of note specified by the style:
NOTE_IN_TEXT = 0
NOTE_FOOTNOTE = 1
NOTE_ENDNOTE = 2

If noteType is not NOTE_IN_TEXT, the implementation should create a new note before inserting the field

Returns

(Array)

0 fieldID Integer|String A unique identifier corresponding to this field
1 fieldCode Integer|String The code stored within this field. Since no data has been set, this should be empty.
2 noteIndex Integer The number of the footnote in which this field resides, or 0 if the field is not in a footnote.

Document_getFields

Get all fields present in the document, in document order.

Parameters

0 documentID Integer|String The documentID, as originally returned by Application_getActiveDocument
1 fieldType String The type of field used by the document, either ReferenceMark or Bookmark

Returns

(Array)

0 fieldID Array(Integer|String) Unique identifiers for each field
1 fieldCode Array(Integer|String) The code stored in each field
2 noteIndex Array(Integer) The number of the footnote in which each field resides, or 0 if the field is not in a footnote

Document_convert

TODO

Document_setBibliographyStyle

TODO

Document_complete

Indicates that the given documentID will no longer be used and associated resources may be freed.

Parameters

documentID Integer|String The documentID, as originally returned by Application_getActiveDocument

Returns

null

Field_delete

Deletes a field from the document (both its code and its contents).

Parameters

documentID Integer|String The documentID, as originally returned by Application_getActiveDocument
fieldID Integer|String The fieldID, as originally returned by Document_cursorInField, Document_insertField, or Document_getFields

Returns

null

Field_select

Moves the current cursor position to encompass a field.

Parameters

documentID Integer|String The documentID, as originally returned by Application_getActiveDocument
fieldID Integer|String The fieldID, as originally returned by Document_cursorInField, Document_insertField, or Document_getFields

Returns

null

Field_removeCode

Removes the field code from a field, leaving it as plain text.

Parameters

documentID Integer|String The documentID, as originally returned by Application_getActiveDocument
fieldID Integer|String The fieldID, as originally returned by Document_cursorInField, Document_insertField, or Document_getFields

Returns

null

Field_setText

Sets the (visible) text of a field.

Parameters

documentID Integer|String The documentID, as originally returned by Application_getActiveDocument
fieldID Integer|String The fieldID, as originally returned by Document_cursorInField, Document_insertField, or Document_getFields
text String The text
isRich Boolean Whether the text should be interpreted as RTF

Returns

null

Field_getText

Gets the (visible) text of a field.

Parameters

documentID Integer|String The documentID, as originally returned by Application_getActiveDocument
fieldID Integer|String The fieldID, as originally returned by Document_cursorInField, Document_insertField, or Document_getFields

Returns

(String) The (visible) text

Field_setCode

Sets the (hidden, persistent) code of a field.

Parameters

documentID Integer|String The documentID, as originally returned by Application_getActiveDocument
fieldID Integer|String The fieldID, as originally returned by Document_cursorInField, Document_insertField, or Document_getFields
code String The field code

Returns

null

Field_convert

Converts a field from one type to another.

Parameters

documentID Integer|String The documentID, as originally returned by Application_getActiveDocument
fieldID Integer|String The fieldID, as originally returned by Document_cursorInField, Document_insertField, or Document_getFields
fieldType String The type of field used by the document, either ReferenceMark or Bookmark
noteType Integer The type of note specified by the style:
NOTE_IN_TEXT = 0
NOTE_FOOTNOTE = 1
NOTE_ENDNOTE = 2

Returns

null