Upstream MEtadata GAthered with YAml (UMEGAYA)

Help! there is a bug that I do not manage to solve by myself. -- Charles


This is an effort to collect meta-information about upstream projects in a file called debian/upstream/metadata in the source packages maintained in a publicly accessible version control system (VCSug), currently Subversion or Git. Since this information is directly accessed from the VCS, it can be updated without uploading the source packages to the Debian archive.

Umegaya is also the name of a draft collector system that is implemented on Its source is available on and Branchable. It is used in to feed the data in the UltimateDebianDatabase.

Proof of principle

To make the DebianMed web sentinels use the UDD, fed from the debian/upstream/metadata via, to display bibliographic information about which academic article to cite when using our packages. This is currently done by collecting the information in the central file used to create the med-* metapackages. This work was announced in October 2012 in the Bits from Debian Pure Blends.

The Umegaya instance running at is collecting and organising debian/upstream/metadata and debian/copyright files as pools. Currently they are pushed daily in the QA team's Subversion repository's directory packages-metadata. A UDD importer consisting of a gatherer and a UDD module is in development.

The date about bibliographic information is loaded in the bibref table of the UltimateDebianDatabase. The following UDD query outputs all source packages featuring bibliographic information. (The join is needed to exclude those references of packages that are not yet uploaded to Debian package pool but used in so called blends prospective packages.)

SELECT distinct s.source from bibref b join sources s on s.source = b.source;


This syntax is being formalised as DEP 12.

The debian/upstream/metadata file is in YAML format. In its simplest form, it looks much like the paragraph format used in Debian control files. Nevertheless, there may be sometimes unexpected behaviours, for instance field contents that have a colon inside have to be quoted in some cases. If in doubt, there are validators available, like this Online YAML Parser. With the libyaml-libyaml-perl package installed, the following command can also validate YAML files:

perl -MYAML::XS -e '$/="";  Load(<STDIN>)' < metadata

Be careful not to use the plain Perl YAML module as it accepts files with invalid syntax (661700).


In alphabetic order. Let's try to use the same vocabulary as in DOAP as much as possible. Fields that are the same as in DOAP are followed by an asterisk.

When the upstream work is part of a large archive, like CPAN.
A URL to the list of known bugs for the project.
A URL that is the place where new bug reports should be sent.

The way the authors want their software be cited in publications. The value is a string which might contain a link in valid HTML syntax. (see discussion on Debian Science list)

URL to the upstream changelog.
Which person, mailing list, forum,… to send messages in the first place.
An URL to a donation form (or instructions).
An URL to the online FAQ.
One or more sources of funding which have supported this project (e.g. NSF OCI-12345).
An URL to a gallery of pictures made with the program (not screenshots).
Name *
Upstream name of the packaged work.
An URL to a upstream page containing more references.
One or more bibliographic references, represented as a mapping or sequence of mappings containing the one or more of the following keys. The values for the keys are always scalars, and the keys that correspond to standard BibTeX entries must provide the same content.

Author list in BibTeX friendly syntax (separating multiple authors by the keyword "and" and using as few as possible abbreviations in the names, as proposed in

Title of the book the article is published in
This is the digital object identifier of the academic publication describing the packaged work.
Editor of the book the article is published in
Hyperlink to the PDF file of the article.
Abbreviated journal name [To be discussed: which standard to recommend ?].
Issue number.
Article page number(s). [To be discussed] Page number separator must be a single ASCII hyphen. What do we do with condensed notations like 401-10 ?

ID number in the PubMed database.

Article title.

A BibTeX entry type indicating what is cited. Typical values are article, book, or inproceedings. [To be discussed]. In case this field is not present, article is assumed.

Hyperlink to the abstract of the article. This should not point to the full version because this is specified by Eprint. Please also do not drop links to pubmed here because this would be redundant to PMID.
Journal volume.
Year of publication
Optional: citation information can be restricted to some specific binary package of a multi-binary package if the reference is only concerning this package; Note: This is just a proposal and might change in the future
An URL to a registration form (or instructions).
URL to a repository containing the upstream sources.
An URL to browse the repository containing the upstream sources.

One or more URLs to upstream pages containing screenshots (not, repesented by a scalar or a sequence of scalars.

Which person, mailing list, forum,… to send security-related messages in the first place.
URL to an web page where the packaged program can also be used.

Some fields are present in debian/upstream/metadata files, but have been introduced there only for exploratory purposes, so their use is not recommended in general, especially when their contents duplicate existing information from other packaging files.

Homepage *
The packaged work's homepage.

Currently it contains the main line of debian/watch. It is therefore assumed to be in format version 3. For surveying multiple locations, it could contain a YAML sequence.

Reserved fields

The following fields are used internally and must not be present in debian/upstream/metadata.

Field to trigger the gatherer, with no output returned.
Used to dump the loaded record.
Used to override the repository's URL provided by debcheckout.

Used to deduce how long umegaya will ignore calls to refresh (to avoid hammering Alioth).

TODO: ignore them safely.


Let's discuss here, on a mailing list (debian-med or debian-qa), or a discussion page, if available.

The data is not really Debian-specific, lets put it outside Debian and use mechanisms for Mapping package names across distributions.

To do: formalise the above using Config::Model::Backend::Yaml, and generate docs as explained in .

* In addition to ?DOAP, other Semantic Web ontologies/namespaces/schemas should be reused in order to not reinvent the wheel, and enable such metadata to participate to the ?Semantic Web (see also Open Linked Data matters). As such, SPDX would be an interesting standard to link to, as well as ADMS.F/OSS, for packages description, IMHO. Syntactically, any form of RDF would be interesting to explicitely convey the prefixes in the field names... and I'm not sure it can be done in ?YAML -- OlivierBerger


BibTeX: Currently there is no way to let {} that might be used to force capitalisation in BibTeX entries slip through from debian/upstream/metadata into BibTeX

It seems that the python library which is used to parse debian/upstream/metadata files for inclusion into UDD has a bug when values are of the form <d:d> (decimal_number colon decimal_number). You should include strings like this into single quotes. (see Discussion on Debian Med mailing list)


Here is a template for a debian/upstream/metadata file which can be used to specify citations:

  Author: <please use full names and separate multiple author by the keyword "and">

Lintian check

Simon Kainz has written some preliminary lintian check to verify the syntax of debian/upstream/metadata files. Any testing is welcome.

Deprecated features

Hyphen shortcut for mappings

Only a subset of YAML is used: sequences are only expected to contain scalars and mappings are only expected to contain a scalar or a mapping, but with only one level of imbrication.

In addition, two conventions that are not part of the YAML format are used:

  Bar: baz

Foo-Bar: baz

UDD loading through a YAML intermediate

The bibliographic data was refreshed daily at (URL not valid anymore) via a local cron job. As specified in config-org.yaml, it was retreived by the script and loaded in the UDD as triples (package, key, value) with the bibref_gatherer.

Old names for the file debian/upstream/metadata