Video courses and YouTube videos

Course logoLooking to learn more about file format issues? I’m offering three video courses on that can help you improve your skills. You can take them on your own schedule and ask me questions about them at any time.

  • Personal Digital Preservation. Where will your computer files be in two years or twenty? With a little care, you can give your important data the best chance of staying useful for your future use and your family’s. This course covers three general areas: avoiding file loss, recovering unusable files, and keeping your data organized and understandable. The course includes PDF reference materials to supplement the lectures.

  • How to Tell a File’s Format: Five Open Source Tools. You will learn how to use five free, open-source tools to identify the format, version, and profile of document files and obtain their metadata. If you’re working in library and archive technology, or if you’re a student preparing for this career, the course will give you a strong start in using those tools and understanding their strengths and weaknesses. The five central sections each cover one of these tools:
    • file: A command line tool included in Linux and Unix for simple file identification.
    • DROID: A batch-oriented tool from the UK National Archives, using the PRONOM format registry.
    • ExifTool: A metadata extraction tool that recognizes a broad range of formats.
    • JHOVE: Software developed at the Harvard University Library for careful validation of certain formats. I wrote most of the code for JHOVE.
    • Apache Tika: Content extraction software which can identify many formats.


  • Managing Metadata with ExifTool. ExifTool is a powerful and versatile software tool for extracting metadata from many different kinds of files, as well as editing it. It’s free and open-source, but it’s also complicated and takes some effort to learn. This course starts with how to download and install the software, then goes on to how to view metadata in various ways and how to edit it. Beyond that, it covers advanced topics including configuration, copying data between files, conditional operations, and scripting. It looks briefly at the ExifTool Perl API and at ways to invoke ExifTool from other programming languages. This course will especially benefit students and professionals in digital preservation and digital forensics.

Need more convincing before you’re ready to spend money? Take a look at my YouTube videos in the meantime: