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Psiconv README


This package is meant to make the Psion 5 series of PDAs, as well as other small computers running EPOC 32, more usable to non-Windows users. But even they may profit from the data I collected.

The package consists of several parts:

  •   Documentation about Psion 5 data formats;
  •   A library which can be linked against application that have to read and write Psion 5 files;
  •   An example command-line program which reads Psion files and writes more commonly used formats.

Data formats

As far as I know, and have gathered from the newsgroups, Psion does not want or is not able to release the data formats of the saved files of their internal applications. I am trying to reverse engineer these data formats and to document them for general use. At this moment, I understand their Word, Sheet, TextEd, Sketch, MBM, Clipart and Record files, as well as a few other less important formats. I want this information to be available to everyone, in order to write better file conversion utilities for popular
(non-)Windows programs.

All documentation is written in Psion 5 Word. Fortunately, the utilities in this package can translate it to HTML and other formats.

Unlike all other files in this package, the *.psi files in the directory formats/psion are completely public domain. I ask anybody who reproduces them, or uses their information in other programs, kindly to attribute them to me.

The documentation files are not installed on a make install; you can find them in the subdirectories of the formats directory.

The library

libpsiconv is a library of routines that you can link against your own application. It allows you to read and write Psion 5 files. Note that it comes under the GNU General Public License; that means that you can only link it to programs which are also covered by that license. You can contact me if you need other license terms.

The following formats are supported at this moment:

WordR+WWord processor files
TextEdR+WOPL editor files
SketchR+WPicture files
MBMR+WAlternate picture format; can contain several pictures
ClipartR+WInternal picture format; can contain several pictures
SheetRSpreadsheet files

Documentation is scarce; please examine the source code or the example psiconv program. Some things may also be found in the doc subdirectory.

The program

Psiconv is a command-line converter that reads Psiconv files and outputs more commonly used formats. It is linked against libpsiconv, and can handle anything that it can.

Please enter psiconv --help if you want to know about its syntax.

The current HTML4 target is not very ideal. HTML is just not made to represent detailed layout considerations: it is a document description language. Still, the output is quite readable already. Of course, headers and footers are not displayed, because there is no notion of pages in HTML. Tabs are also difficult; they are not supported yet. This can be solved using tables, but it is quite hard to do it correctly. Some other things are just approximated too.

The XHTML target uses cascading style sheets (CSS). You need a not-too-old browser for this to display correctly. Generally, the output of this generator is of higher quality than the normal HTML generator's.

A plain TEXT target just grabs all text, without any further conversions.

All ImageMagick graphic output formats are supported; depending on how you compiled ImageMagick, this is betwee 20 and 50 different formats. Your favorite one should be somewhere in there...

In the past, my focus was on extending the number of output targets for this program; at the moment, I belief more in import/export filters for office applications like AbiWord, Gnumeric and the Gimp.

Psiconv is licensed under the GPL. Please read the included file COPYING for exact licensing information. Please contact me if you need some other licensing terms.

News and future developments

Starting with version 0.2, psiconv should keep all namespaces unpolluted.

Starting with version 0.4, the conversion routines are linked into a (static or shared) library.

Version 0.5 has autoconf and libtool support, and should run on many more platforms.

Version 0.6 has support for graphics.

Version 0.8 can generate files and add Sheet support.

Version 0.9 uses Unicode inside, add the psiconv.conf file and has many more enhancements.

High on the TODO list are input routines for Record files.  I am running into some trouble understanding Data and Agenda files, but with a little luck, I'll figure it out after all. This is more long-term though.


Please read the file INSTALL for installation instructions.

General_article | by Dr. Radut