2.1.72 • Public • Published


The zsyncdown utility provided by this package builds a set of local files from which a website containing citable documents can be maintained. The files are constructed from items and attachments stored in a Zotero group library maintained by Jurism clients, and item records include a citation generated using the CSL-M extensions to Jurism. Juris-M/citeproc-cite-service was developed by Frank Bennett and is a primary output of EURO-EXPERT (n.161814) funded by the European Research Council.

System Requirements

The package should work on any recent-ish version of NodeJS (it was written against v8.9.4) and the npm package manager.


Installation and updates

The tool can be set up by cloning its GitHub repo, or directly via NPM. The commands for updating the tool differ depending on which installation method is used.

Installing from NPM

To install directly from NPM, use the following command:

    bash> npm install --global citeproc-cite-service

In this case, the tool can be updated with the following command:

    bash> npm update citeproc-cite-service

Installing from the GitHub repo

The following commands can be used to install the tool from a clone of the GitHub repository:

    bash> git clone
    bash> cd citeproc-cite-service
    bash> npm install
    bash> npm link

If tool is installed in this way, version updates can be pulled in with the following commands, issued within the repo directory:

    bash> git pull
    bash> npm update

Configuring callbacks

For initial testing, copy the file callbacks-sample.js to callbacks.js:

    bash> cp callbacks-sample.js callbacks.js

For purposes of illustration, the sample callbacks-sample.js file contains functions that will write the data necessary to sync local data with a Zotero library into a file hierarchy. The functions can and should be adapted to apply changes directly to the local data store that is to be synced.

Initializing the sync directory

Before use, the utility must be initialized in an empty data directory with the --init option. By default, this is the directory in which the zsyncdown command is executed. To specify a different data directory, use the --data-dir option.

    bash> zsyncdown --data-dir=/my/data/directory --init


    bash> zsyncdown --init

Initialization will create a template configuration file config.json in the data directory, with content like this:

    "dataPath": "/option/data-dir/or/cwd",
    "dataMode": "CSL-M",
    "access": {
        "groupID": false,
        "libraryKey": false

To complete configuration, set the groupID and libraryKey in the configuration file. The groupID is the string of numbers in a group URL on

The libraryKey is a private key created in a Zotero user account with read permissions on the target group:

The completed configuration file will look something like this (the comments in the header can be ignored, they will be stripped before JSON processing):

// Configuration file for citeproc-cite-service
// For details, see or
  "dataPath": "/option/data-dir/or/cwd",
  "dataMode": "CSL-M",
  "access": {
    "groupID": 123456,
    "libraryKey": "aBcDeFg7HiJkLmN8oPqRsTu9"

## Syncing

Once configuration is complete, running the utility will pull all items and their attachments from the target Zotero group, reporting API calls to the console.

    bash> zsyncdown
    zsyncdown: using data directory /option/data-dir/or/cwd
    zsyncdown: opening config file at /option/data-dir/or/cwd/config.json
    zsyncdown: Using persistent cache file at /option/data-dir/or/cwd/keyCache.json
    syncDown: writing sync update into /option/data-dir/or/cwd/tmp/updates
    + CALL
    + CALL
    + CALL
    + CALL
    + CALL
    + CALL
    + CALL

The Zotero library version and the downloaded item keys and versions are recorded in the data directory in a file keyCache.json. The contents of this file are used to limit API calls on subsequent runs of the utility. The callback functions in the distributed callbacks-sample.js file will write update information into a subdirectory updates, with the following structure:


The items and attachments directories contain the data needed for the updates generated by each run of the utility:

  • deletes.txt: This is a newline-delimited list of item keys that should be removed from the local data store.
  • add: The files under this subdirectory contain the details for items to be added to the local data store.
  • mod: The files here contain the details for items that should be modified in the local data store.

The files directory will be empty after performing the operations described above. To populate it with all current attachment files, run the utility with the -f option:

    bash> zsyncdown -f

This operation will take some time to complete.

How this data is merged into the local data store will vary depending on the local environment. If desired, the functions in callbacks.js can be modified to perform direct database update operations.

Data structures

Data files written under the add and mod subdirectories by the distributed callbacks-sample.js functions are JSON structures that show the data available for use in updating a local data store.

An update under items has the following top-level elements (see the bottom of this README for example output):

  • key: The key used to identify the item in the Zotero API.
  • citation: A formatted citation for the item, in HTML markup. If
  • country: The ISO country code of the item, derived from a tag prefixed with cn: (i.e. cn:PL).
  • tags: Any tags associated with the item.
  • cslItem: The item metadata in CSL JSON format. If the dataMode is set to CSL-M in config.json (the default), the data will include multilingual and extended fields. If set to CSL, any such fields will remain encoded in the note field.

An update under attachments has the following top-level elements (see the bottom of this README for example output):

  • key: The key used to identify the attachment item in the Zotero API. This key will match the corresponding file in the files subdirectory.
  • parentKey: The key of the item with metadata describing this attachment item.
  • language: The language of this attachment text, derived from a tag on the attachment item with a prefix of ln: (i.e. ln:PL).
  • filename: The filename assigned to this attachment in Zotero.
  • fulltext: The full plain-text content of the attachment document (useful for indexing).


  • Only two style variants are available (the CSL and CSL-M versions of Chicago Fullnote with Bibliography).
  • Only PDF attachments are supported.
  • Modifications to attachment files (PDFs) will not be synced down if the key of the attachment item does not change.
  • Zotero collections and saved searches are ignored.

Update objects


Item update objects have six keys:

  • key: The identifier key assigned to the item by
  • citation: The formatted citation of the item.
  • country: The ISO country code of the item, uppercased. This value is derived from the first element of the colon-delimited jurisdiction ID set on cslItem.jurisdiction. The value defaults to an empty string.
  • tags: An array of objects, each with a single key tag, and a single value that is the name of the tag.
  • relatedItems: An array of key values.
  • cslItem: An object with keys and values that follow the CSL Specification and CSL-M: extensions to CSL.

The following is a sample item update object for a legal case:

  "key": "JH29MAW8",
  "citation": "Uzasadnienie, SR dla Warszawy-Mokotowa w Warszawie, October 19, 2016, III K 1053/14",
  "country": "PL",
  "tags": [
      "tag": "Criminal"
  "relatedItems": [],
  "cslItem": {
    "type": "legal_case",
    "abstract": "Description of content",
    "authority": "sr",
    "number": "III K 1053/14",
    "issued": {
      "date-parts": [
    "language": "pl",
    "note": "",
    "multi": {
      "main": {},
      "_keys": {}
    "call-number": "PL351",
    "jurisdiction": "pl:warsaw:warsaw:mokotow",
    "genre": "Uzasadnienie",
    "id": "JH29MAW8"


The following is a sample update object for an attachment to the sample item above:

  "key": "AJW7NHLQ",
  "parentKey": "JH29MAW8",
  "language": "pl",
  "filename": "PL351.pdf",
  "fulltext": "III K 1053/14 - uzasadnienie Sąd Rejonowy ... Polityka cookiesIndeksyKanały RSS\n\n"

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