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ZIMlib is the library which implements the access to ZIM files. Use libzim in your own software - like reader applications - to make them ZIM-capable without the need having to dig too much into the ZIM file format.



zimlib is written in C++. To use the library, you need the include files of zimlib have to link against libzim. Both are installed when zimlib is built with the normal "./configure; make; make install".

Errors are handled with exceptions. When something goes wrong, zimlib throws an error, which is always derived from std::exception.

All Classes are defined in the namespace zim. Copying is allowed and tried to make as cheap as possible. The library is not thread safe by itself. You have to serialize access to the class yourself.

The main class, which accesses the file is zim::File. It has actually a reference to a implementation, so that copies of the class just references the same file. You open a file by passing the file name to the constuctor as a std::string.

The API tries to resemble the standard C++ library, so that a zim::File works like a container of instances of zim::Article. It has a const_iterator, which is created using zim::File::begin(). Dereferencing the iterator gives the zim::Article. The iterator may be incremented to point to the next article until it reaches zim::File::end(). Iterators pointing to that must not be dereferenced nor incremented.

When the iterator is created using zim::File::beginByTitle(), the articles are ordered by title. Otherwise the url field is used.

List all articles titles inside a ZIM file
#include <zim/file.h>
#include <zim/fileiterator.h>
#include <iostream>

int main(int argc, char* argv[]) 
    zim::File f("wikipedia.zim");
    for (zim::File::const_iterator it = f.begin(); it != f.end(); ++it)
      std::cout << "url: " << it->getUrl() << " title: " << it->getTitle() << '
  catch (const std::exception& e)
    std::cerr << e.what() << std::endl;

You may save that file under the name "zimlist.cpp" and compile using the command: g++ -o zimlist -lzim zimlist.cpp. You get a program, which lists the urls and titles of the file named wikipedia.zim. Of course it is better to pass that name as a parameter in argc/argv. But this should be an easy task for you, so I do not show that.

In subsequent examples I show only the code needed to use the library. The main-function with the error catcher should always be in place.

Finding articles

Articles are addressed either by index or by namespace and url or title. The index is normally not that useful. So let us look how to find a specific article.

zim::File has methods find and findByTitle. Both take 2 parameters. A char for the namespace (which is normally 'A' for articles) and a string, which specifies the url (in find) or the title (in findByTitle). It returns a const_iterator pointing to the lexicographically next article. Be aware, that the returned iterator may point to end(), so you should check that, before dereferencing the iterator.

find a article by title and print the content:
zim::File::const_iterator it = file.findByTitle('A', "Wikipedia");
if (it == file.end())
  throw std::runtime_error("article not found");
if (it->isRedirect())
  std::cout << "see: " << it->getRedirectArticle().getTitle() << std::endl;
  std::cout << it->getData();

Incrementing the iterator iterates through the file using url or title order, depending, which method created the iterator.

The method zim::Article::getData() returns the actual data as a instance of zim::Blob. This class has a method data(), which returns a pointer (const char*) to the begin of the data and size(), which returns the size of the article. Be aware, that the data is not zero terminated. Zim files can contain binary data like images, which may have zero bytes in the data.

The data is valid as long as the article is valid.

If you really want zero terminated data since you know, that it do not contain zero bytes, you may use the Blob to create a std::string and use the c_str()-method.

To make life easier, a ostream-operator for the zim::Blob is implemented.

get zero-terminated string out of the article data:
zim::Article article = ...; // get the article somewhere
zim::Blob blob = article.getData();
std::string stringdata = std::string(, blob.size());
const char* zptr = stringdata.c_str();  // c_str() guarantees, that the pointer points to zero terminated data


Article File::getArticle(char ns, const QUnicodeString& title, bool collate = false)

returns an object of an article

std::string Article::getPage(bool layout = true, unsigned maxRecurse = 10)

returns the content of an article