The Vdir Storage Format¶
This document describes a standard for storing calendars and contacts on a filesystem, with the main goal of being easy to implement.
Vdirsyncer synchronizes to vdirs via
filesystem. Each vdir
(basically just a directory with some files in it) represents a calendar or
The main folder (root) contains an arbitrary number of subfolders (collections), which contain only files (items). Synonyms for “collection” may be “addressbook” or “calendar”.
An item is:
- A vCard file, in which case the file extension must be .vcf, or
- An iCalendar file, in which case the file extension must be .ics.
An item should contain a
UID property as described by the vCard and
iCalendar standards. If it contains more than one
UID property, the values
of those must not differ.
The file must contain exactly one event, task or contact. In most cases this
also implies only one
VCARD component per file, but
e.g. recurrence exceptions would require multiple
VEVENT components per
The filename should have similar properties as the
UID of the file content.
However, there is no requirement for these two to be the same. Programs may
choose to store additional metadata in that filename, however, at the same time
they must not assume that the metadata they included will be preserved by
Any of the below metadata files may be absent. None of the files listed below have any file extensions.
A file called
colorinside the vdir indicates the vdir’s color, a property that is only relevant in UI design.
Its content is an ASCII-encoded hex-RGB value of the form
#RRGGBB. For example, a file content of
#FF0000indicates that the vdir has a red (user-visible) color. No short forms or informal values such as
red(as known from CSS, for example) are allowed. The prefixing
#must be present.
A file called
displaynamecontains a UTF-8 encoded label that may be used to represent the vdir in UIs.
Writing to vdirs¶
Creating and modifying items or metadata files should happen atomically.
Writing to a temporary file on the same physical device, and then moving it to
the appropriate location is usually a very effective solution. For this
purpose, files with the extension
.tmp may be created inside collections.
When changing an item, the original filename must be used.
Reading from vdirs¶
- Any file ending with the
.tmpor no file extension must not be treated as an item.
identpart of the filename should not be parsed to improve the speed of item lookup.
Currently, vdirs suffer from a rather major performance problem, one which current implementations try to mitigate by building up indices of the collections for faster search and lookup.
The reason items’ filenames don’t contain any extra information is simple: The solutions presented induced duplication of data, where one duplicate might become out of date because of bad implementations. As it stands right now, an index format could be formalized separately though.
vdirsyncer doesn’t really have to bother about efficient item lookup, because its synchronization algorithm needs to fetch the whole list of items anyway. Detecting changes is easily implemented by checking the files’ modification time.