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Apache POI - HPSF Internals

HPSF Internals

Introduction

A Microsoft Office document is internally organized like a filesystem with directory and files. Microsoft calls these files streams. A document can have properties attached to it, like author, title, number of words etc. These metadata are not stored in the main stream of, say, a Word document, but instead in a dedicated stream with a special format. Usually this stream's name is \005SummaryInformation, where \005 represents the character with a decimal value of 5.

A single piece of information in the stream is called a property, for example the document title. Each property has an integral ID (e.g. 2 for title), a type (telling that the title is a string of bytes) and a value (what this is should be obvious). A stream containing properties is called a property set stream.

This document describes the internal structure of a property set stream, i.e. the HPSF. It does not describe how a Microsoft Office document is organized internally and how to retrieve a stream from it. See the POIFS documentation for that kind of stuff.

The HPSF is not only used in the Summary Information stream in the top-level document of a Microsoft Office document. Often there is also a property set stream named \005DocumentSummaryInformation with additional properties. Embedded documents may have their own property set streams. You cannot tell by a stream's name whether it is a property set stream or not. Instead you have to open the stream and look at its bytes.

Data Types

Before delving into the details of the property set stream format we have to have a short look at data types. Integral values are stored in the so-called little endian format. In this format the bytes that make out an integral value are stored in the "wrong" order. For example, the decimal value 4660 is 0x1234 in the hexadecimal notation. If you think this should be represented by a byte 0x12 followed by another byte 0x34, you are right. This is called the big endian format. In the little endian format, however, this order is reversed and the low-value byte comes first: 0x3412.

The following table gives an overview about some important data types:

Name Length Example (Big Endian) Example (Little Endian)
Bytes 1 byte 0x12 0x12
Word 2 bytes 0x1234 0x3412
DWord 4 bytes 0x12345678 0x78563412
ClassID
A sequence of one DWord, two Words and eight Bytes
16 bytes 0xE0859FF2F94F6810AB9108002B27B3D9 resp. E0859FF2-F94F-6810-AB-91-08-00-2B-27-B3-D9 0xF29F85E04FF91068AB9108002B27B3D9 resp. F29F85E0-4FF9-1068-AB-91-08-00-2B-27-B3-D9
The ClassID examples are given here in two different notations. The second notation without the "0x" at the beginning and with dashes inside shows the internal grouping into one DWord, two Words and eight Bytes. Watch out: Microsoft documentation and tools show class IDs a little bit differently like F29F85E0-4FF9-1068-AB91-08002B27B3D9. However, that representation is (intentionally?) misleading with respect to endianess.

HPSF Overview

A property set stream consists of three main parts:

  1. The header and
  2. the section(s) containing the properties.

The Header

The first bytes in a property set stream is the header. It has a fixed length and looks like this:

Offset Type Contents Remarks
0 Word 0xFFFE If the first four bytes of a stream do not contain these values, the stream is not a property set stream.
2 Word 0x0000
4 DWord Denotes the operating system and the OS version under which this stream was created. The operating system ID is in the DWord's higher word (after little endian decoding): 0x0000 for Win16, 0x0001 for Macintosh and 0x0002 for Win32 - that's all. The reader is most likely aware of the fact that there are some more operating systems. However, Microsoft does not seem to know.
8 ClassID 0x00000000000000000000000000000000 Most property set streams have this value but this is not required.
24 DWord 0x01000000 or greater Section count. This field's value should be equal to 1 or greater. Microsoft claims that this is a "reserved" field, but it seems to tell how many sections (see below) are following in the stream. This would really make sense because otherwise you could not know where and how far you should read section data.

Section List

Following the header is the section list. This is an array of pairs each consisting of a section format ID and an offset. This array has as many pairs of ClassID and and DWord fields as the section count field in the header says. The Summary Information stream contains a single section, the Document Summary Information stream contains two.

Type Contents Remarks
ClassID Section format ID 0xF29F85E04FF91068AB9108002B27B3D9 for the single section in the Summary Information stream.

0xD5CDD5022E9C101B939708002B2CF9AE for the first section in the Document Summary Information stream.
DWord Offset The number of bytes between the beginning of the stream and the beginning of the section within the stream.
ClassID Section format ID ...
DWord Offset ...
... ... ...

Section

A section is divided into three parts: the section header (with the section length and the number of properties in the section), the properties list (with type and offset of each property), and the properties themselves. Here are the details:

  Type Contents Remarks
Section header DWord Length The length of the section in bytes.
DWord Property count The number of properties in the section.
Properties list DWord Property ID The property ID tells what the property means. For example, an ID of 0x0002 in the Summary Information stands for the document's title. See the Property IDs chapter below for more details.
DWord Offset The number of bytes between the beginning of the section and the property.
... ... ...
Properties DWord Property type ("variant") This is the property's data type, e.g. an integer value, a byte string or a Unicode string. See the Property Types chapter for details!
Field length depends on the property type ("variant") Property value This field's length depends on the property's type. These are the bytes that make out the DWord, the byte string or some other data of fixed or variable length.

The property value's length is always stored in an area which is a multiple of 4 in length. If the property is shorter, e.g. a byte string of 13 bytes, the remaining bytes are padded with 0x00 bytes.
... ... ...

Property IDs

As seen above, a section holds a property list: an array with property IDs and offsets. The property ID gives each property a meaning. For example, in the Summary Information stream the property ID 2 says that this property is the document's title.

If you want to know a property ID's meaning, it is not sufficient to know the ID itself. You must also know the section format ID. For example, in the Document Summary Information stream the property ID 2 means not the document's title but its category. Due to Microsoft's infinite wisdom the section format ID is not part of the section. Thus if you have only a section without the stream it is in, you cannot make any sense of the properties because you do not know what they mean.

So each section format ID has its own name space of property IDs. Microsoft defined some "well-known" property IDs for the Summary Information and the Document Summary Information streams. You can extend them by your own additional IDs. This will be described below.

Property IDs in The Summary Information Stream

The Summary Information stream has a single section with a section format ID of 0xF29F85E04FF91068AB9108002B27B3D9. The following table defines the meaning of its property IDs. Each row associates a property ID with a name and an ID string. (The property type is just for informational purposes given here. As we have seen above, the type is always given along with the value.)

The property name is a readable string which could be displayed to the user. However, this string is useful only for users who understand English. The property name does not help with other languages.

The property ID string is about the same but looks more technically and is nothing a user should bother with. You could the ID string and map it to an appropriate display string in a particular language. Of course you could do that with the property ID as well and with less overhead, but people (including software developers) tend to be better in remembering symbolic constants than remembering numbers.

Property ID Property Name Property ID String Property Type
2 Title PID_TITLE VT_LPSTR
3 Subject PID_SUBJECT VT_LPSTR
4 Author PID_AUTHOR VT_LPSTR
5 Keywords PID_KEYWORDS VT_LPSTR
6 Comments PID_COMMENTS VT_LPSTR
7 Template PID_TEMPLATE VT_LPSTR
8 Last Saved By PID_LASTAUTHOR VT_LPSTR
9 Revision Number PID_REVNUMBER VT_LPSTR
10 Total Editing Time PID_EDITTIME VT_FILETIME
11 Last Printed PID_LASTPRINTED VT_FILETIME
12 Create Time/Date PID_CREATE_DTM VT_FILETIME
13 Last Saved Time/Date PID_LASTSAVE_DTM VT_FILETIME
14 Number of Pages PID_PAGECOUNT VT_I4
15 Number of Words PID_WORDCOUNT VT_I4
16 Number of Characters PID_CHARCOUNT VT_I4
17 Thumbnail PID_THUMBNAIL VT_CF
18 Name of Creating Application PID_APPNAME VT_LPSTR
19 Security PID_SECURITY VT_I4

Property IDs in The Document Summary Information Stream

The Document Summary Information stream has two sections with a section format ID of 0xD5CDD5022E9C101B939708002B2CF9AE for the first one. The following table defines the meaning of the property IDs in the first section. See the preceding section for interpreting the table.

Property ID Property name Property ID string VT type
0 Dictionary PID_DICTIONARY [Special format]
1 Code page PID_CODEPAGE VT_I2
2 Category PID_CATEGORY VT_LPSTR
3 PresentationTarget PID_PRESFORMAT VT_LPSTR
4 Bytes PID_BYTECOUNT VT_I4
5 Lines PID_LINECOUNT VT_I4
6 Paragraphs PID_PARCOUNT VT_I4
7 Slides PID_SLIDECOUNT VT_I4
8 Notes PID_NOTECOUNT VT_I4
9 HiddenSlides PID_HIDDENCOUNT VT_I4
10 MMClips PID_MMCLIPCOUNT VT_I4
11 ScaleCrop PID_SCALE VT_BOOL
12 HeadingPairs PID_HEADINGPAIR VT_VARIANT | VT_VECTOR
13 TitlesofParts PID_DOCPARTS VT_LPSTR | VT_VECTOR
14 Manager PID_MANAGER VT_LPSTR
15 Company PID_COMPANY VT_LPSTR
16 LinksUpTo Date PID_LINKSDIRTY VT_BOOL

Property Types

A property consists of a DWord type field followed by the property value. The property type is an integer value and tells how the data byte following it are to be interpreted. In the Microsoft world it is also known as the variant.

The Usage column says where a variant type may occur. Not all of them are allowed in a property set but just those marked with a [P]. [V] - may appear in a VARIANT, [T] - may appear in a TYPEDESC, [P] - may appear in an OLE property set, [S] - may appear in a Safe Array.

Variant ID Variant Type Usage Description
0 VT_EMPTY [V] [P] nothing
1 VT_NULL [V] [P] SQL style Null
2 VT_I2 [V] [T] [P] [S] 2 byte signed int
3 VT_I4 [V] [T] [P] [S] 4 byte signed int
4 VT_R4 [V] [T] [P] [S] 4 byte real
5 VT_R8 [V] [T] [P] [S] 8 byte real
6 VT_CY [V] [T] [P] [S] currency
7 VT_DATE [V] [T] [P] [S] date
8 VT_BSTR [V] [T] [P] [S] OLE Automation string
9 VT_DISPATCH [V] [T] [P] [S] IDispatch *
10 VT_ERROR [V] [T] [S] SCODE
11 VT_BOOL [V] [T] [P] [S] True=-1, False=0
12 VT_VARIANT [V] [T] [P] [S] VARIANT *
13 VT_UNKNOWN [V] [T] [S] IUnknown *
14 VT_DECIMAL [V] [T] [S] 16 byte fixed point
16 VT_I1 [T] signed char
17 VT_UI1 [V] [T] [P] [S] unsigned char
18 VT_UI2 [T] [P] unsigned short
19 VT_UI4 [T] [P] unsigned short
20 VT_I8 [T] [P] signed 64-bit int
21 VT_UI8 [T] [P] unsigned 64-bit int
22 VT_INT [T] signed machine int
23 VT_UINT [T] unsigned machine int
24 VT_VOID [T] C style void
25 VT_HRESULT [T] Standard return type
26 VT_PTR [T] pointer type
27 VT_SAFEARRAY [T] (use VT_ARRAY in VARIANT)
28 VT_CARRAY [T] C style array
29 VT_USERDEFINED [T] user defined type
30 VT_LPSTR [T] [P] null terminated string
31 VT_LPWSTR [T] [P] wide null terminated string
64 VT_FILETIME [P] FILETIME
65 VT_BLOB [P] Length prefixed bytes
66 VT_STREAM [P] Name of the stream follows
67 VT_STORAGE [P] Name of the storage follows
68 VT_STREAMED_OBJECT [P] Stream contains an object
69 VT_STORED_OBJECT [P] Storage contains an object
70 VT_BLOB_OBJECT [P] Blob contains an object
71 VT_CF [P] Clipboard format
72 VT_CLSID [P] A Class ID
0x1000 VT_VECTOR [P] simple counted array
0x2000 VT_ARRAY [V] SAFEARRAY*
0x4000 VT_BYREF [V] void* for local use
0x8000 VT_RESERVED

0xFFFF VT_ILLEGAL

0xFFF VT_ILLEGALMASKED

0xFFF VT_TYPEMASK

The Dictionary

What a dictionary is good for is explained in the HPSF HOW-TO. This chapter explains how it is organized internally.

The dictionary has a simple header consisting of a single UInt value. It tells how many entries the dictionary comprises:

Name Data type Description
nrEntries UInt Number of dictionary entries

The dictionary entries follow the header. Each one looks like this:

Name Data type Description
key UInt The unique number of this property, i.e. the PID
length UInt The length of the property name associated with the key
value String The property's name, terminated with a 0x00 character

The entries are not aligned, i.e. each one follows its predecessor without any gap or fill characters.

References

In order to assemble the HPSF description I used information publically available on the Internet only. The references given below have been very helpful. If you have any amendments or corrections, please let us know! Thank you!

  1. In Understanding OLE documents, Ken Kyler gives an introduction to OLE2 documents and especially to property sets. He names the property names, types, and IDs of the Summary Information and Document Summary Information stream.
  2. The ActiveX Programmer's Reference at http://www.dwam.net/docs/oleref/ seems a little outdated, but that's what I have found.
  3. An overview of the VT_ types is in Variant Type Definitions.
  4. What is a FILETIME? The answer can be found under , http://www.vbapi.com/ref/f/filetime.html or http://www.cs.rpi.edu/courses/fall01/os/FILETIME.html. In short: The FILETIME structure holds a date and time associated with a file. The structure identifies a 64-bit integer specifying the number of 100-nanosecond intervals which have passed since January 1, 1601. This 64-bit value is split into the two dwords stored in the structure.
  5. Microsoft provides some public information in the MSDN Library. Use the search function to try to find what you are looking for, e.g. "codepage" or "document summary information" etc.
  6. This documentation origins from the HPSF description available at http://www.rainer-klute.de/~klute/Software/poibrowser/doc/HPSF-Description.html.
by Rainer Klute