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Adding metadata to TensorFlow Lite model

TensorFlow Lite metadata provides a standard for model descriptions. The metadata is an important source of knowledge about what the model does and its input / output information. The metadata consists of both

Setup the metadata tools

Before adding metadata to your model, you will need to a Python programming environment setup for running TensorFlow. There is a detailed guide on how to set this up here.

After setup the Python programming environment, you will need to install additional tooling:

pip install tflite-support

TensorFlow Lite metadata tooling supports both Python 2 and Python 3.

Adding metadata

There are three parts to the model metadata:

  1. Model information - Overall description of the model as well as items such as licence terms.
  2. Input information - Description of the inputs and pre-processing required such as normalization.
  3. Output information - Description of the output and post-processing required such as mapping to labels.

Supported Input / Output types

TensorFlow Lite metadata for input and output are not designed with specific model types in mind but rather input and output types. It does not matter what the model functionally does, as long as the input and output types consists of the following or a combination of the following, it is supported by TensorFlow Lite metadata:

  • Feature - Numbers which are unsigned integers or float32.
  • Image - Metadata currently supports RGB and greyscale images.
  • Bounding box - Rectangular shape bounding boxes. The schema supports a variety of numbering schemes.


You can find examples on how the metadata should be populated for different types of models here:

Image Classification

Download the script here and run the script like this:

python ./metadata_writer_for_image_classifier.py \
    --model_file=./model_without_metadata/mobilenet_v1_0.75_160_quantized.tflite \
    --label_file=./model_without_metadata/labels.txt \

The rest of this guide will highlight some of the key sections in the Image Classification example to illustrate the key elements.

Deep dive into the Image Classification example

Model Information

Metadata starts by creating a new model info:

from tflite_support import flatbuffers
from tflite_support import metadata as _metadata
from tflite_support import metadata_schema_py_generated as _metadata_fb

""" ... """
"""Creates the metadata for an image classifier."""

# Creates model info.
model_meta = _metadata_fb.ModelMetadataT()
model_meta.name = "MobileNetV1 image classifier"
model_meta.description = ("Identify the most prominent object in the "
                          "image from a set of 1,001 categories such as "
                          "trees, animals, food, vehicles, person etc.")
model_meta.version = "v1"
model_meta.author = "TensorFlow"
model_meta.license = ("Apache License. Version 2.0 "

Input / output information

This describe your model's input and output signature and it maybe used by automatic code generators to create pre- and post- processing code. To create an input or output information about a tensor:

# Creates input info.
input_meta = _metadata_fb.TensorMetadataT()

# Creates output info.
output_meta = _metadata_fb.TensorMetadataT()

Image Input

Image is a common input type for machine learning. TensorFlow Lite metadata supports information such as colorspace and pre-processing information such as normalization. One thing that does not required manual input is the dimension of the image as this is already provided by the shape of the input tensor and can be automatically inferred.

input_meta.name = "image"
input_meta.description = (
    "Input image to be classified. The expected image is {0} x {1}, with "
    "three channels (red, blue, and green) per pixel. Each value in the "
    "tensor is a single byte between 0 and 255.".format(160, 160))
input_meta.content = _metadata_fb.ContentT()
input_meta.content.contentProperties = _metadata_fb.ImagePropertiesT()
input_meta.content.contentProperties.colorSpace = (
input_meta.content.contentPropertiesType = (
input_normalization = _metadata_fb.ProcessUnitT()
input_normalization.optionsType = (
input_normalization.options = _metadata_fb.NormalizationOptionsT()
input_normalization.options.mean = [127.5]
input_normalization.options.std = [127.5]
input_meta.processUnits = [input_normalization]
input_stats = _metadata_fb.StatsT()
input_stats.max = [255]
input_stats.min = [0]
input_meta.stats = input_stats

Label output

Label can be mapped to an output tensor via an associated file using TENSOR_AXIS_LABELS.

# Creates output info.
output_meta = _metadata_fb.TensorMetadataT()
output_meta.name = "probability"
output_meta.description = "Probabilities of the 1001 labels respectively."
output_meta.content = _metadata_fb.ContentT()
output_meta.content.content_properties = _metadata_fb.FeaturePropertiesT()
output_meta.content.contentPropertiesType = (
output_stats = _metadata_fb.StatsT()
output_stats.max = [1.0]
output_stats.min = [0.0]
output_meta.stats = output_stats
label_file = _metadata_fb.AssociatedFileT()
label_file.name = os.path.basename("your_path_to_label_file")
label_file.description = "Labels for objects that the model can recognize."
label_file.type = _metadata_fb.AssociatedFileType.TENSOR_AXIS_LABELS
output_meta.associatedFiles = [label_file]

Put it all together

The following code pull the model information together with the input and output information:

# Creates subgraph info.
subgraph = _metadata_fb.SubGraphMetadataT()
subgraph.inputTensorMetadata = [input_meta]
subgraph.outputTensorMetadata = [output_meta]
model_meta.subgraphMetadata = [subgraph]

b = flatbuffers.Builder(0)
metadata_buf = b.Output()

Once the data structure is ready, the writing of the metadata into the tflite file is done via the populate method:

populator = _metadata.MetadataPopulator.with_model_file(model_file)

Verify the metadata

You can read back the metadata in a tflite file using the MetadataDisplayer:

displayer = _metadata.MetadataDisplayer.with_model_file(export_model_path)
export_json_file = os.path.join(FLAGS.export_directory,
                    os.path.splitext(model_basename)[0] + ".json")
json_file = displayer.get_metadata_json()
# Optional: write out the metadata as a json file
with open(export_json_file, "w") as f: