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Zotero Server Write Requests

This is version 2 of the Zotero Web API. For new development, use API version 3.

This page documents the write methods of the Zotero Web API. See the Read Requests page for basic information on accessing the API, including possible HTTP status codes not listed here.

An API key with write access to a given library is necessary to use write methods.

Not yet implemented:

  • Mappings caching (If-Modified-Since)
  • Non-English type/field locales

Item Type/Field Requests

For an API client to present an editing UI to its users, it must know what combinations of Zotero item types, fields, and creator types are valid. Clients can request this data from the Zotero API.

As schema changes are currently rare, clients should cache type/field data for a period of time (e.g., one hour) without making further requests. Subsequent requests for new data should then include If-Modified-Since headers containing the contents of the Last-Modified header from the original response. If no changes have occurred, the server will return a 304 Not Modified and clients should continue to use cached data for the same period of time.

User-friendly type/field names will be returned in English by default. Clients can request names in other languages by passing a locale parameter (e.g., GET /itemTypes?locale=fr-FR).

Hint: For manual viewing, add pprint=1 to the following requests for easier-to-read output.

Get All Item Types

GET /itemTypes
If-Modified-Since: Mon, 14 Mar 2011 22:30:17 GMT
[
  { "itemType" : "book", "localized" : "Book" },
  { "itemType" : "note", "localized" : "Note" },
  ()
]
Common responses
200 OK
304 Not Modified No changes have occurred since If-Modified-Since time.
400 Bad Request Locale not supported.

Get All Item Fields

GET /itemFields
If-Modified-Since: Mon, 14 Mar 2011 22:30:17 GMT
[
  { "field" : "title", "localized" : "Title" },
  { "field" : "url", "localized" : "URL" },
  ()
]
Common responses
200 OK
304 Not Modified No changes have occurred since If-Modified-Since time.
400 Bad Request Locale not supported.

Get All Valid Fields for an Item Type

Note: API consumers intending to write to the server should generally use /items/new combined with /itemTypes instead of this request.

GET /itemTypeFields?itemType=book
If-Modified-Since: Mon, 14 Mar 2011 22:30:17 GMT
[
  { "field" : "title", "localized" : "Title" },
  { "field" : "abstractNote", "localized" : "Abstract" },
  ()
]
Common responses
200 OK
304 Not Modified No changes have occurred since If-Modified-Since time.
400 Bad Request Locale not supported.

Get Valid Creator Types for an Item Type

GET /itemTypeCreatorTypes?itemType=book
[
  { "creatorType" : "author", "localized" : "Author" },
  { "creatorType" : "editor", "localized" : "Editor" },
  ()
]
Common responses
200 OK
304 Not Modified No changes have occurred since If-Modified-Since time.
400 Bad Request 'itemType' is unspecified or invalid; locale not supported.

Get Localized Creator Fields

GET /creatorFields
If-Modified-Since: Mon, 14 Mar 2011 22:30:17 GMT
[
  { "field" : "firstName", "localized" : "First" },
  { "field" : "lastName", "localized" : "Last" },
  { "field" : "name", "localized" : "Name" }
]
Common responses
304 Not Modified No changes have occurred since If-Modified-Since time.
400 Bad Request Locale not supported.

Get Template for a New Item

GET /items/new?itemType=book
If-Modified-Since: Mon, 14 Mar 2011 22:30:17 GMT
{
  "itemType" : "book",
  "title" : "",
  "creators" : [
    {
      "creatorType" : "author",
      "firstName" : "",
      "lastName" : ""
    }
  ],
  "url" : "",
  (...),
  "tags" : [],
  "collections" : [],
  "relations" : {}
}
GET /items/new?itemType=note
If-Modified-Since: Mon, 14 Mar 2011 22:30:17 GMT
{
  "itemType" : "note",
  "note" : "",
  "tags" : [],
  "collections" : [],
  "relations" : {}
}

TODO: attachment creation (see File Uploads)

Common responses
200 OK
304 Not Modified No changes have occurred since If-Modified-Since time.
400 Bad Request itemType is unspecified or invalid.

Item Requests

Creating an Item

POST <userOrGroupPrefix>/items
Content-Type: application/json
Zotero-Write-Token: <write token>
{
  "items" : [
    {
      "itemType" : "book",
      "title" : "My Book",
      "creators" : [
        {
          "creatorType":"author",
          "firstName" : "Sam",
          "lastName" : "McAuthor"
        },
        {
          "creatorType":"editor",
          "name" : "John T. Singlefield"
        }
      ],
      "tags" : [
        { "tag" : "awesome" },
        { "tag" : "rad", "type" : 1 }
      ],
      "collections" : [
        "BCDE3456", "CDEF4567"
      ],
      "relations" : {
        "owl:sameAs" : "http://zotero.org/groups/1/items/JKLM6543",
        "dc:relation" : "http://zotero.org/groups/1/items/PQRS6789",
        "dc:replaces" : "http://zotero.org/users/1/items/BCDE5432"
      }
    }
  ]
}

All properties other than itemType, tags, collections, and relations are optional.

Common responses
200 OK The request completed. See the response JSON for status of individual writes.
400 Bad Request Invalid type/field; unparseable JSON
409 Conflict The target library is locked.
412 Precondition Failed The provided Zotero-Write-Token has already been submitted.
413 Request Entity Too Large Too many items submitted

200 OK response:

{
  "success": {
    "0": "<itemKey>"
  },
  "unchanged": {},
  "failed": {},
  }
}

See Creating Multiple Objects for more information on the response format.

Creating Multiple Items

Updating an Existing Item

First, retrieve the current version of the item, specifying JSON as the format for the Atom <content> node:

GET <userOrGroupPrefix>/items/<itemKey>?content=json

See Creating an Item above for an example response.

The API supports two ways of modifying item data: by uploading full item data (PUT) or by sending just the data that changed (PATCH).

Full-item updating (PUT)

With PUT, you submit full item JSON to the server, typically by modifying the downloaded JSON directly and resubmitting it:

PUT <userOrGroupPrefix>/items/<itemKey>
Content-Type: application/json
{
  "itemKey": "ABCD2345",
  "itemVersion": 1,
  "itemType" : "book",
  "title" : "My Amazing Book",
  "creators" : [
    {
      "creatorType":"author",
      "firstName" : "Sam",
      "lastName" : "McAuthor"
    },
    {
      "creatorType":"editor",
      "name" : "Jenny L. Singlefield"
    }
  ],
  "tags" : [
    { "tag" : "awesome" },
    { "tag" : "rad", "type" : 1 }
  ],
  "collections" : [
    "BCDE3456", "CDEF4567"
  ],
  "relations" : {
    "owl:sameAs" : "http://zotero.org/groups/1/items/JKLM6543",
    "dc:relation" : "http://zotero.org/groups/1/items/PQRS6789",
    "dc:replaces" : "http://zotero.org/users/1/items/BCDE5432"
  }
}

All properties other than itemType, tags, collections, and relations are optional. Any existing fields not specified will be removed from the item. If creators, tags, collections, or relations are empty, any associated creators/tags/collections/relations will be removed from the item.

Partial-item updating (PATCH)

With PATCH, you can submit just the properties that have actually changed, for a potentially much more efficient operation. Properties not included in the uploaded JSON are left untouched on the server. To clear a property, pass an empty string or an empty array as appropriate.

PATCH <userOrGroupPrefix>/items/<itemKey>
If-Unmodified-Since-Version: <version>
{
  "date" : "2013"
  "collections" : [
    "BCDE3456", "CDEF4567"
  ]
}

This would add a date field to the item and add it in the two specified collections if not already present. Array properties are interpreted as complete lists, so omitting a collection key would cause the item to be removed from that collection.

The PATCH behavior is also available when modifying multiple items via POST.

Both PUT and PATCH

Notes and attachments can be made child items by assigning the parent item's key to the parentItem property. If parent and child items are created in the same request, the child items must appear after the parent item in the items array.

The item's current version number is included in the itemVersion JSON property, as well as in the Last-Modified-Version header of single-item requests. PUT and PATCH requests must include the item's current version number in either the itemVersion property or the If-Unmodified-Since-Version header. If the item has been changed on the server since the item was retrieved, the write request will be rejected with a 412 Precondition Failed error, and the most recent version of the item will have to be retrieved from the server before changes can be made.

Common responses
204 No Content The item was successfully updated.
400 Bad Request Invalid type/field; unparseable JSON
409 Conflict The target library is locked.
412 Precondition Failed The item has changed since retrieval (i.e., the provided item version no longer matches).

Updating Multiple Items

Deleting an Item

GET <userOrGroupPrefix>/items/<itemKey>?content=json

Retrieve the version from the Last-Modified-Version response header.

DELETE <userOrGroupPrefix>/items/<itemKey>
If-Unmodified-Since-Version: <version>
Common responses
204 No Content The item was deleted.
409 Conflict The target library is locked.
412 Precondition Failed The item has changed since retrieval (i.e., the provided item version no longer matches).

Deleting Multiple Items

Up to 50 items can be deleted in a single request.

DELETE <userOrGroupPrefix>/items?itemKey=<key>,<key>,<key>
If-Unmodified-Since-Version: <version>
204 No Content
Last-Modified-Version: <version>
Common responses
204 No Content The items were deleted.
409 Conflict The target library is locked.
412 Precondition Failed The library has changed since the specified version.

Collection Requests

Creating a Collection

POST <userOrGroupPrefix>/collections
Content-Type: application/json
Zotero-Write-Token: <write token>
{
  "collections" : [
    {
      "name" : "My Collection",
      "parentCollection" : "QRST9876"
    }
  ]
}
Common responses
200 OK The request completed without a general error. See the response JSON for status of individual writes.
409 Conflict The target library is locked.
412 Precondition Failed The provided Zotero-Write-Token has already been submitted.

Updating an Existing Collection

GET <userOrGroupPrefix>/collections/<collectionKey>?content=json

PUT <userOrGroupPrefix>/collections/<collectionKey>
Content-Type: application/json
If-Unmodified-Since-Version: <version>
{
  "name" : "My Collection",
  "parentCollection" : false
}
Common responses
200 OK The collection was updated.
409 Conflict The target library is locked.
412 Precondition Failed The collection has changed since retrieval (i.e., the provided collection version no longer matches).

Collection-Item Membership

Items can be added to or removed from collections via the collections property in the item JSON.

Deleting a Collection

GET <userOrGroupPrefix>/collections/<collectionKey>?content=json

DELETE <userOrGroupPrefix>/collections/<collectionKey>
If-Unmodified-Since-Version: <version>
Common responses
204 No Content The collection was deleted.
409 Conflict The target library is locked.
412 Precondition Failed The collection has changed since retrieval (i.e., the provided ETag no longer matches).

Deleting Multiple Collections

Up to 50 collections can be deleted in a single request.

DELETE <userOrGroupPrefix>/collections?collectionKey=<collectionKey>,<collectionKey>,<collectionKey>
If-Unmodified-Since-Version: <version>
204 No Content
Last-Modified-Version: <version>
Common responses
204 No Content The collections were deleted.
409 Conflict The target library is locked.
412 Precondition Failed The library has changed since the specified version.

Saved Search Requests

POST <userOrGroupPrefix>/search
Content-Type: application/json
Zotero-Write-Token: <write token>
{
  "searches": [
    {
      "name": "My Search",
      "conditions": [
        {
          "condition": "title",
          "operator": "contains",
          "value": "foo"
        },
        {
          "condition": "date",
          "operator": "isInTheLast",
          "value": "7 days"
        }
      ]
    }
  ]
}
Common responses
201 Created The search was created.
409 Conflict The target library is locked.
412 Precondition Failed The provided Zotero-Write-Token has already been submitted.

Deleting Multiple Searches

Up to 50 searches can be deleted in a single request.

DELETE <userOrGroupPrefix>/searches?searchKey=<searchKey>,<searchKey>,<searchKey>
If-Unmodified-Since-Version: <version>
204 No Content
Last-Modified-Version: <version>
Common responses
204 No Content The searches were deleted.
409 Conflict The target library is locked.
412 Precondition Failed The library has changed since the specified version.

Tag Requests

Deleting Multiple Tags

Up to 50 tags can be deleted in a single request.

DELETE <userOrGroupPrefix>/tags?tag=<URL-encoded tag 1> || <URL-encoded tag 2> || <URL-encoded tag 3>
If-Unmodified-Since-Version: <version>
204 No Content
Last-Modified-Version: <version>

Multi-Object Requests

Creating Multiple Objects

Up to 50 collections, saved searches, or items can be created in a single request by including multiple objects in the collections, searches, or items property:

POST <userOrGroupPrefix>/collections
Content-Type: application/json
Zotero-Write-Token: <write token>
{
  "collections": [
    {
      "name" : "My Collection",
      "parentCollection": "QRST9876"
    },
    {
      "name": "My Other Collection"
    }
  ]
}

For syncing objects with predetermined keys, an object key can also be provided with new objects. See the Syncing documentation for more information.

200 response:

Content-Type: application/json
Last-Modified-Version: <version>
{
  "success": {
    "0": "<objectKey>",
    "2": "<objectKey>"
  },
  "unchanged": {
    "4": "<objectKey>"
  }
  "failed": {
    "1": {
      "key": "<objectKey>",
      "code": <HTTP response code>,
      "message": "<error message>"
    },
    "3": {
      "key": "<objectKey>",
      "code": <HTTP response code>,
      "message": "<error message>"
    },
  }
}

The keys of the success, unchanged, and failed objects are the numeric indexes of the Zotero objects in the uploaded array. The Last-Modified-Version is the version that has been assigned to any Zotero objects in the success object.

Common responses
200 OK The objects were uploaded.
409 Conflict The target library is locked.
412 Precondition Failed The provided Zotero-Write-Token has already been submitted.

Updating Multiple Objects

Up to 50 collections, saved searches, or items can be updated in a single request.

Follow the instructions in Creating Multiple Objects, but add an itemKey, collectionKey, or searchKey property to each object. Pass the current library version as If-Unmodified-Since-Version, replacing Zotero-Write-Token, or include an itemVersion, collectionVersion, or searchVersion in each object.

Items can also include dateAdded and dateModified properties containing UTC timestamps in SQL DATETIME format (e.g., “2012-10-03 16:42:12”). If dateAdded is included with an existing item, it must match the existing dateAdded value or else the API will return a 400 error. If a new dateModified time is not included with an update to existing item, the item's dateModified value will be set to the current time.

Creators, tags, and relations are included in item objects and cannot be modified separately.

POST <userOrGroupPrefix>/collections
Content-Type: application/json
If-Unmodified-Since-Version: <version>
{
  "collections": [
	{
	  "collectionKey": "BD85JEM4",
	  "name": "My Collection",
	  "parentCollection": false
	},
	{
	  "collectionKey": "MNC5SAPD",
	  "name": "My Subcollection",
	  "parentCollection": "BD85JEM4"
	}
  ]
}

The response is the same as that in Creating Multiple Objects.

Note that POST follows PATCH semantics, meaning that any properties not specified will be left untouched on the server. To erase an existing property, include it with an empty string or false as the value.

Zotero-Write-Token

Zotero-Write-Token: 19a4f01ad623aa7214f82347e3711f56

Zotero-Write-Token is an optional HTTP header, containing a client-generated identifier string between 8 and 32 characters in length, that can be included with item and collection creation requests to prevent them from being processed more than once (e.g., if a user clicks a form submit button twice). The Zotero server caches write tokens for successful requests for 12 hours, and subsequent requests from the same API key using the same write token will be rejected with a 412 Precondition Failed status code. If a request fails, the write token will not be stored.