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ID3v2ChapterTool is an application which allows you to author and embed chapter information in your MP3 files. It is part of the BBC open source initiative and is maintained as a Sourceforge project. The application uses a new signalling specification that has been developed by

Warning: ID3v2 Chapter signalling is not currently supported by most media players. Although the signalling is unlikely to cause problems it may be some time before you will be able to see a benefit. However, if you are developing a media player which supports chapters you should find this application useful.

Chapters in this context could be any of the following:

  • chapters within an audiobook
  • articles within a podcast
  • individual tracks within a multi-track audio file

At the most basic level this chapter information consists of the start time of each chapter you define, allowing listeners to skip easily to these points in the file during replay. However, chapters can also have descriptive information (e.g. title), images and URLs.

The information attached to each chapter can be used by media players to provide a dynamic display during replay. For example, the images attached to each chapter can be used to provide a slide show.

The ID3v2ChapterTool also allows you to create a Table of Contents (TOC). At the simplest level a TOC can be a flat list of chapters as shown in this screenshot. However, it is also possible to create a hierarchical table of contents if required.

At the most advanced level it is possible to define multiple TOCs for a single audio file. For example, one TOC could provide access to the entire audio file whilst a second TOC could provide access to a set of highlights.

Once chapter information is widely supported by media players it will enable some exciting new multimedia applications such Audio Encyclopaedias.

The application is based on a Chapter Signalling API which is an extension of the Java ID3 API developed by Jens Vonderheide.

  Requirements and Installation

ID3v2ChapterTool requires Java 1.4 and JMF 2.1.1e but should also work with later versions. Both of these are available from Sun Microsystems.

You can download the latest release of the ID3v2ChapterTool here.

After unzipping the archive Windows users can launch the application by running ID3v2ChapterTool.bat whilst Linux users should

If you have any problems you can check your JMF installation by running this
Diagnostic Applet.




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The main window of the application consists of four panels:

  • a Table of Contents tree
  • a Media Player
  • a Toolbar
  • a tabbed panel providing access to the Chapter and TOC frames created by the application

In the example shown above, a news podcast has been given a single-level Table of Contents which lists five articles. The information provided for the final article is displayed which consists of a title, a description, an image and a URL.

  Getting started

To create a set of chapters with a basic Table of Contents use the following steps:
  1. Run ID3v2ChapterTool and select the required audio file using the "Open" command on the File menu.
  2. If desired, enter a title for the Table of Contents into the TOC title field (e.g. "Today's programme").
  3. Click on the "Add Chapter" button. The start time of the chapter will be preset to the beginning of the file.
  4. Play the audio file using the media player.
  5. Set the end time of the chapter by pressing the "Set End"  button at the required point. If preferred, you can pause the media player beforehand.
  6. Check the start and end times using the jump to "Start" and "End" buttons. You can repeat step 6 until happy with the settings. If necessary, you can use the nudge buttons followed by the set buttons to make small changes whilst the media player is paused.
  7. Add a chapter title and description if required.
  8. Add any chapter-related images, URLs and other text frames using the "Add ... subframe" buttons.
  9. Repeat steps 4 - 9 for the remaining chapters. The start time of each new chapter will be preset to the end time of the previous one.
  10. When the chapters are defined save the file using the "Save" or "Save As" commands on the File menu.
Once a file has been saved it can be re-opened at any time to check or edit the chapter information.

Files are always saved using an ID3v2 version 3 tag but the application will accept input files using either version 2 or 3. Information in the original ID3v2 frames is preserved.

  Advanced features

To create a multi-level Table of Contents add the intermediate levels as follows:
  • Select the desired parent by clicking on its location in the "Table of Contents" panel.
  • Click the "Add TOC" button.
To add chapters to a multi-level Table of Contents:
  • Select the desired parent by clicking on its location in the "Table of Contents" panel.
  • Clicking on the "Add Chapter" button.
It is possible have more than one Table of Contents entry for an individual chapter. To add additional entries:
  • Select the appropriate chapter tab in the "ID3v2 Chapter Frames" panel.
  • Select the desired parent by clicking on its location in the "Table of Contents" panel.
  • Click the "Add Entry" button.

  XML import/export

Chapter information can be imported and exported from ID3v2ChapterTool using the XML file format supported by Apple. These functions are provided on the File menu. Alternatively, chapter information from an XML file can be added to an MP3 file in a simple, one-line operation using XMLTool.bat. Type "XMLTool" for details of the required parameters.

  Chapter player

A basic chapter player application is now included to allow the playback of audio files with chapter frames to be demonstrated. The application can be launched using ChapterPlayer.bat. Type "ChapterPlayer <audio file name>" to run the player.


Feedback would be appreciated via the project tracker if you find any bugs or would like to submit a feature request.

Patches or code providing useful extensions would also be welcome.

© 2006 British Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.