Xena Software

Xena is a digital preservation tool that first identifies a digital object’s file format, and for certain formats then converts the object into an open format. Xena also creates a base64-encoded version of the file (using only printable ASCII characters) with an XML metadata wrapper.


The National Archives of Australia

Licensing and cost

GNU General Public License version 3 - free.

Development activity

Xena version 6.0.1 was released on 14 June 2012.

Development is ongoing as part of the National Archives’ Digital Preservation Software Platform.

Xena includes an API for integration with other preservation tools.

Platform and interoperability

Xena is part of the National Archives’ Digital Preservation Platform, which also includes Digital Preservation Recorder (DPR), Checksum Checker, and Manifest Maker. It is designed to fit into a workflow managed by the DPR.

Written for Java SE 6 (JRE 1.6), Xena is a cross-platform application which runs on Linux, Windows and Apple Mac OS X.

For Xena to work properly with all supported file formats, users must install six other applications: FLAC, Readpst, the ImageMagick Convert tool, the Tesseract OCR (optical character recognition) engine, LibreOffice, and Exiftool.

Functional notes

Xena supports conversion and normalisation of many file types, including archived/compressed files, audio, databases, documents, email, graphics, and page description files. The full listing of supported formats, as well as the open format that is used for normalisation, can be found on the Xena site. Note that Xena currently does not support any video file types. File formats that are not supported are simply normalised, by base64 encoding of the content and wrapping in XML metadata.

Documentation and user support

The Xena Sourceforge Wiki provides a number of explanatory documents, a “Help” guide, and extensive installation instructions. The Sourceforge site also hosts a Bug Tracker and a Feature Request Tracker. Contact information is published for the Digital Preservation Team at the National Archives, but there are no specific help forums.


Xena includes both command line interface and a GUI. Windows users can also take advantage of an installation wizard.

Expertise required

Users benefit from knowledge of file format standards and metadata outputs. Installation and configuration for Xena itself does not require serious expertise; however, as part of a larger preservation workflow, it requires solid understanding of application design.

Standards compliance

Xena’s normalisation process converts files to open formats.

Influence and take-up

DPR is used by the National Archives of Australia. Sourceforge statistics show over 3000 downloads of version 6.0.1 as of July 2013.

Xena is also used within the Planets Testbed workflows.

Last reviewed: 
10 July, 2013