Files API


The /rest/files API supports creating, retrieving, updating, and deleting files. The file and directory data model visualization can be found here

Write-operations to the /rest/files API is generally limited only to Fairdata services. In practice, new file metadata only appears to Metax as a result of freezing files in the Fairdata IDA service, or during some PAS processes.

End users will only be able to browse file metadata of projects where they are a member, end edit a limited set of metadata fields. Details about browsing files using the Metax API can be found later in this document here, and in swagger.

File Storages and Projects

A file metadata entry in Metax always belongs to a File Storage, and to a Project. A file storage can be for example the Fairdata IDA service.

A Project in this documentation generally refers to a project in IDA. For end users, browsing files in Metax, and associating files from a certain project with a dataset, and publishing the dataset, requires membership in that project. Read more about the IDA service, and how to become an IDA user at

File hierarchy

When sending a list of files to POST /rest/files, a file/directory hierarchy is automatically created based on the file paths, and files are assigned to their parent directories. When retrieving a file (or a directory), its parent directory information is stored in the field parent_directory.

End User Editable File Fields

End Users may edit the following file metadata fields using the API:

  • file_characteristics

Browsing files in Metax

Note that browsing files using Metax API requires authentication in order to verify project membership. Once a file has been used in a published dataset, the file metadata will be free to browse for everybody (by using the approriate API).

This is just a quick overview, below code examples include some use of them, and other details can be found in swagger.

Browse all file metadata of frozen IDA files (requires authentication)

  • GET /rest/directories/<pid> Get details of a single directory. Returned object does not contain files and sub-directories.

  • GET /rest/directories/<pid>/files Get contents of a directory. Returns only directories and files included in the directory, not the directory itself (the directory designated by <pid>). Returns immediate child directories and files, does not return files recursively from all sub directories.

  • GET /rest/directories/root?project=project_identifier Retrieve the root directory of a project. Contains the directory itself, and the sub-directories and files contained by the directory.

Browse file metadata in published datasets (no authentication)

  • GET /rest/directories/<pid>/files?cr_identifier=myidentifier Returns the files and directories that have been used in a specific published dataset (referred to by the parameter ?cr_identifier=myidentifier).

  • GET /rest/datasets/<pid>/files Retrieve a flat list of all files associated with the dataset.

In the public browse API’s, a dataset’s access restrictions or embargoes may apply, and only limited metadata may be returned. Authentication for these public API’s is optional, but by authenticating access restrictions may be lifted, for example due to ownership of the published dataset, etc.

Reference data guide

File metadata only utilizes reference data when describing the field file.file_characteristics, and more specifically, fields file_format and format_version inside that field. The related reference data can be browsed here

For additional reference, the file schema visualization can be found here

Selecting file_format and format_version from reference data

First choose a value for field file.file_characteristics.file_format from the list of input_file_format values in the reference data. Then, select a value for field file.file_characteristics.format_version from one of the output_format_version values that matches with the previously selected input_file_format.


Let’s browse the file_format_version reference data at Let’ pick an entry where the reference data field input_file_format equals “application/vnd.oasis.opendocument.text”. This will be the value for field file.file_characteristics.file_format. In order to pick a version for the selected format, browse the reference data again, but only searching results where input_file_format is the same as we chose previously. There will be (possibly) multiple results. The reference data query for that is:\/vnd\.oasis\.opendocument\.text

Where the relevant addition is &q=input_file_format:application\/vnd\.oasis\.opendocument\.text, where the "/" and "." characters have been escaped by a leading "\" character. Not nearly as many results now! The different version numbers can be seen in the field output_format_version. Pick on that fancies you, and use that as the value for field file.file_characteristics.format_version.


Creating files

Example payload to create a file in Metax (POST /rest/files).


The possibility to create new file metadata entries in Metax is reserved for selected Fairdata services only.

    "identifier": "abc123",
    "file_name": "file.pdf",
    "file_path": "/some/file/path/file.pdf",
    "file_uploaded": "2017-09-27T12:38:18.700Z",
    "file_modified": "2017-09-27T12:38:18.700Z",
    "file_frozen": "2017-09-27T12:38:18.700Z",
    "file_format": "string",
    "byte_size": 1024,
    "file_storage": "urn:nbn:fi:att:file-storage-ida",
    "project_identifier": "string",
    "checksum": {
        "value": "string",
        "algorithm": "md5",
        "checked": "2017-09-27T12:38:18.701Z"
    "open_access": false,
    "user_created": "string",
    "service_created": "string"

Browsing files

To begin browsing the files of a project, you will need one of the following information to be able to reach a directory to get started:

  • The directory’s identifier (access any directory)

  • …or the directory’s project (access the root directory in a project)

  • …or the directory’s project and path (access any directory in a project)

First, lets look what the contents of a single directory might look like in the first place.

import requests
response = requests.get('')

Contents could look something like below:

    "id": 441,
    "byte_size": 442778,
    "directory_modified": "2017-06-27T13:07:22+03:00",
    "directory_name": "init",
    "directory_path": "/project550/research/2018/data/init",
    "file_count": 264,
    "identifier": "5105ab9839f63a909893183c14f9e119",
    "parent_directory": {
        "id": 398,
        "identifier": "5105ab98398475109893183c14f9e119"
    "project_identifier": "project550",
    "date_modified": "2017-06-27T13:07:22+03:00",
    "date_created": "2017-05-23T13:07:22+03:00",
    "service_created": "metax"

When browsing files using the /rest/directories API, the identifier field will help in browsing directories further down the directory tree, while the field parent_directory can be used to browse directories up.

List contents by directory identifier

import requests

response = requests.get('')
assert response.status_code == 200, response.content

The responses from the directory browsing API generally look like the following, where either of the directories or files fields may be empty:

    "directories": [
        { directory object ... },
        { directory object ... },
    "files": [
        { file object ... },
        { file object ... },
        { file object ... },
        { file object ... },

The /rest/directories API can be further augmented by using various query parameters. Refer to Swagger doc for details.

Find project root directory

Shows contents of the directory, as if GET /rest/directories/<pid>/files was used.

import requests
response = requests.get('<project_identifier>')

Find directory by project and path

Shows contents of the directory, as if GET /rest/directories/<pid>/files was used.

import requests
response = requests.get('<projcet_identifier>&path=/path/to/dir')