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Metadata

Metadata is information that describes an item. In ArcGIS Online, an item's metadata is created, edited, and viewed on the item page. Item details include the title, the type, and the source, author, last modified date, thumbnail, and tags. It can also include additional information such a summary and description, how accurate and recent the item is, restrictions associated with using and sharing the item, credits, and so on. This information can help others discover and validate the usefulness of the items. Within ArcGIS, metadata is saved with the item it describes. It is copied, moved, and deleted with the item.

Organizations can enable metadata, which allows members of the organization to use the built-in metadata editor to include additional standards-based metadata for all item types. Metadata can be included for all items in a portal including web maps, web scenes, and web apps. Organizations select a metadata style, which configures the organization’s experience for editing and viewing metadata. In addition to determining the information available for viewing and editing, the metadata style identifies the metadata standard you are following and the schema used to validate an item's metadata for the standard. Regardless of the applied style, the metadata is always stored in ArcGIS metadata format. This means that metadata is not lost if the organization switches the metadata style.

For organizations that have enabled metadata, a Metadata button appears on their details pages for item owners. Item owners use the button to access the built-in editor and include additional standards-based metadata. When an item includes this additional metadata, anyone with access to the item also sees a Metadata button and can use it to view the metadata in the style configured by the organization.

Providing standards-based metadata with your item helps people learn about the item and decide if they want to use it. For example, if your organization has enabled Open Data, metadata documents managed from ArcGIS Online are available in ArcGIS Open Data sites from dataset pages and the documents are included in shapefile downloads. The availability of standards-based metadata for these datasets helps the general public determine which dataset best meets their needs.

Enable metadata for the organization

Administrators configure metadata for the organization through the item details settings. The configuration includes choosing the metadata style. The style controls how the metadata appears and which fields are available for creating the metadata. The organization should choose the style of metadata the organization already uses to create its metadata.

If the organization disables metadata, the metadata is not lost. The metadata is still part of the item, but the editing experience in ArcGIS Online is no longer available. Any standards-based metadata authored while metadata was enabled for the organization can still be viewed from the item page. To remove standards-based metadata from an item, you must delete the metadata using the web editor while metadata is enabled for your organization.

Edit metadata

If an organization has enabled metadata, item owners can include additional standards-based metadata for their items. Item owners use the built-in metadata editor on the item to include additional metadata and store it in ArcGIS metadata format. The ArcGIS metadata format contains fields that can store all content in all metadata standards supported by ArcGIS, including all FGDC metadata content, all ISO 19139 metadata content, all North American Profile metadata content, and all INSPIRE metadata content. The ArcGIS format also stores item properties such as thumbnails that is not included in these official metadata standards and profiles.

When opening the editor for the first time, the editor is populated with existing metadata from the following item page fields: title, tags, snippet, description, accessinformation, licenseinfo, and extent. If you upload a local metadata XML file, you have the option to overwrite the item details with the imported metadata from the XML file or use the existing item details.

Follow the steps below to edit item details to include metadata:

  1. Verify that you are signed in, have privileges to create content, and that your organization has enabled metadata.
  2. Open My Content and click the title of the item for which you want to include metadata.
  3. Click Metadata and provide metadata content that describes the item. Fields in bold are required for the metadata style you are using.
    Tip:

    You can see the metadata style of your organization by opening the Metadata > Profile tab.

  4. When in your current editing session, you have the following options:
    • Validate verifies that you have filled in the required fields for the metadata style. You get a message letting you know if your document is valid or about any required fields you haven't filled in with links to those fields.
    • Save saves your changes and keeps the metadata editor open.
    • Save & Close saves your changes and closes the metadata editor.
    • Save Local Copy downloads your current metadata document, including any changes made during the editing session, as an XML file in ArcGIS metadata format without a metadata style applied to it.
    • Open imports an existing metadata XML file on your computer. Click Open, click the browse button, and choose the file on your computer. The metadata XML file needs to be in the ArcGIS metadata format.

      Check the box to populate metadata with item details. If you leave the box unchecked, metadata from your file updates item details.

    • Close closes the editing session without saving.
    • Delete deletes any metadata you've added to the item and hides the Metadata button when the item is viewed by others. The Delete option is only available if the item includes metadata. It does not delete item details.

View metadata

If an organization has enabled metadata, a Metadata button appears on their item pages for item owners. Item owners use the button to access a built-in editor and include metadata. When an item includes metadata, anyone with access to the item also sees a Metadata button and can use it to view the metadata in the metadata style configured by the organization. Once the item owner has added metadata to the item, the owner sees a choice to View or Edit from within the Metadata button.

Metadata styles, standards, and profiles

A metadata style configures the editing and viewing experience of the metadata content. A metadata style is like applying a filter to an item's metadata. The style controls how you view the metadata and also the pages that appear in the metadata editor. A standards-based metadata style is designed to support a metadata standard or profile. The style determines how metadata is exported and validated for that standard or profile.

The default item page allows you to see and edit a simple set of metadata properties for an item. The information is indexed and searchable and is available to be used by applications across the platform. The information in item details is straightforward and effective, suitable for anyone who doesn't need to adhere to specific metadata standards. When metadata is enabled for your organization, item details properties are synchronized with the item’s standards-based metadata.

Metadata styles

The following metadata styles are provided to support different metadata:

  • FGDC CSDGM Metadata—This style allows you to view and edit metadata following the FGDC Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM) guidelines, export metadata in this standard's XML format, and validate it using the CSDGM XML DTD.
  • INSPIRE Metadata Directive—This style allows you to view and edit a complete ISO 19139 metadata document that adheres to the INSPIRE Implementing Rules, export metadata in the ISO 19139 format, and validate it using the ISO 19139 XML Schemas.
  • ISO 19139 Metadata Implementation Specification GML3.2—This style is identical to the one above, except the exported files use the GML 3.2 namespace, and therefore can be validated with versions of the ISO 19139 XML Schemas that reference the GML 3.2 namespace. For example, use this style if you plan to validate the exported metadata files using the NOAA NCDDC XML Schemas.
  • ISO 19139 Metadata Implementation Specification—This style allows you to view and edit a complete metadata document that complies with ISO standard 19139, Geographic information — Metadata — XML schema implementation, export metadata in this format, and validate it using the standard's XML Schemas. Use this style to create metadata that complies with ISO standard 19115, Geographic information — Metadata.
  • North American Profile of ISO 19115 2003—This style allows you to view and edit a complete metadata document that complies with North American Profile of ISO 19115:2003 – Geographic information – Metadata, export metadata in this format, and validate it using the ISO 19139 XML Schemas.

Metadata standards and profiles

A metadata standard is a document identifying content that should be provided to describe geospatial resources such as maps, map services, vector data, imagery, and even nonspatial resources such as tables and tools that are relevant to your spatial work. A metadata standard may also provide an XML schema describing the format in which the content should be stored. Typically, a standard XML format is defined using XML Schema or document type definition (DTD). Standards are typically ratified by national or international standards bodies.

Many geospatial metadata standards are produced by ISO committees including ISO 19115 Geographic Information—Metadata and ISO 19119 Geographic Information—Metadata—Services, which are content standards. In contrast, ISO 19139 Geographic Information—Metadata—Implementation Specification provides a set of XML Schemas that define the XML format in which ISO 19115 and ISO 19119 metadata content should be stored.

The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) created the Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM) that has been used in the United States for many years; it is commonly referred to as the FGDC metadata standard. It is another example of a content standard. While there is an accepted format in which to store this content in XML format, there are also several other file formats that are commonly used to present the information.

A metadata profile is a document that modifies a metadata standard. A profile may reduce the overall number of metadata elements defined by a standard. A profile may further restrict the optionality of a metadata element, making it mandatory where before it was optional; however, a profile cannot make mandatory elements optional. A profile may further restrict the values allowed in a metadata element. Metadata profiles can be adopted by a standards body, agency, or organization in place of a metadata standard. One example of a metadata profile is the North American Profile of ISO 19115:2003 that has been jointly created and adopted by the United States and Canada.

Whether by choice or by obligation, if you plan to create metadata that follows a standard or profile, obtain a copy of the standard or profile document. For ISO standards, you must purchase the document from ISO or the national organization that participates in ISO, such as ANSI, in the United States. Profiles should be available from the organizations that create them.

Frequently asked questions

Listed below are common questions about metadata in ArcGIS Online. If you have a question that you think might come up often for other users, click the feedback link at the bottom of the page to submit it as a candidate.

What metadata styles are supported in ArcGIS Online?

Currently, the following standards-based metadata styles are supported in ArcGIS Online: FGDC CSDGM Metadata, INSPIRE Metadata Directive, ISO 19139 Metadata Implementation Specification GML3.2, ISO 19139 Metadata Implementation Specification, and North American Profile of ISO 19115 2003.

How is metadata supported in ArcGIS Online?

Organizations can create and share metadata on all of the items supported by ArcGIS Online including web maps, web scenes, web apps, layers, uploaded files, and tools.

Metadata can be created and edited using a web-based editor and viewed as HTML in a separate browser tab. Metadata is viewed with the style selected by the organization. Currently, organizations choose one metadata style for creating, editing, and viewing metadata. Organizations can change the style without losing the metadata.

The web-based editor uses the ArcGIS metadata format. The fields available for editing in the web editor are determined by the style configured by the organization. The ArcGIS metadata format contains fields that can store all content in all metadata standards supported by ArcGIS.

Is metadata automatically included when I publish a hosted layer?

Yes, when you publish a hosted layer to ArcGIS Online, metadata for the map document used to publish the layer is automatically included in the item.

  • From ArcMap, when you publish a map document as a hosted layer, any metadata for the map document is automatically included and is available with the hosted layer item. Metadata from individual layers is not included in the metadata for the hosted layer item. You can make edits to the hosted layer metadata in ArcCatalog or ArcGIS Online. The metadata document from the feature class can be used to update the hosted layer’s metadata by opening and saving the document in the web editor or imported into ArcMap.
  • Currently from ArcGIS Pro, standards-based metadata is not included when you publish hosted layers. Future releases of ArcGIS Pro will have support for this. At this time, when you publish a map as a hosted layer, item details are automatically included as metadata and are available on the hosted layer. Metadata for these items can be updated using the web editor or ArcCatalog. Item details can be edited in ArcGIS Pro but you cannot edit standards-based metadata from ArcGIS Pro.
  • When you add a service definition file through My Content > Add Item, metadata for the map document used to create the service definition is automatically included in the hosted layer item.
  • When you publish a hosted WFS layer from a hosted feature layer, the hosted WFS layer inherits metadata from the hosted feature layer. Subsequent edits to the hosted feature layer's metadata does not affect the hosted WFS layer's metadata, nor do edits to the hosted WFS layer's metadata affect the hosted feature layer's metadata.

How do I get my metadata from ArcGIS Desktop into ArcGIS Online?

  • All items in your organization can be updated to include metadata. Use the geoprocessing XSLT Transformation tool with one of the following stylesheets to export the metadata content to a stand-alone metadata XML file in the ArcGIS metadata format: exact copy of.xslt, remove local storage info.xslt, or remove local storage info strict.xslt. The metadata XML file can be opened in the web editor and used to update the metadata for the hosted layer.
  • Metadata for map documents used to publish a hosted layer is automatically included with the hosted layer. You can make edits to the hosted layer metadata in ArcMap or ArcGIS Online. Metadata from tile packages or any feature classes used to publish the layer is not included. Metadata for these items can be updated using the web editor or ArcGIS Desktop.

How is metadata supported in ArcGIS Pro?

The current release of ArcGIS Pro does not support editing standards-based metadata or including standards-based metadata when you publish hosted layers to ArcGIS Online. The item description can be edited and you can view standards-based metadata. When you publish a map as a hosted layer, the metadata from the item description is automatically included with the item. Editing standards-based metadata, including standard-based metadata with hosted layers, and additional metadata enhancements will be supported in future releases.

When I register an ArcGIS Server service, does the metadata become part of the item?

No. When you register an ArcGIS Server service as an item in ArcGIS Online, only the item details are automatically included. At this time, existing metadata does not become part of the item. Metadata for these items can be updated using the web editor or ArcGIS Desktop.

How can I export my metadata from ArcGIS Online?

To download metadata for an item, click Save Local Copy from within the web editor. This local copy includes any changes made during the editing session that have not been saved to the item.

Is my metadata searchable?

Yes, currently content search uses specific fields from item details: title, tags, snippet, description, accessinformation. Changes you make to these fields from within the metadata editor or from the item page are automatically synchronized in both places. Future updates to ArcGIS Open Data will include support for searching the full metadata document.

Can I import metadata formats other than ArcGIS metadata format?

No, other metadata formats cannot be imported. Currently, only the ArcGIS metadata format can be opened in the metadata editor. You can use the ArcGIS Desktop XSLT Transformation geoprocessing tool to convert other metadata formats to the ArcGIS metadata format. The web editor only opens metadata documents in ArcGIS metadata format. If you attempt to open a document in another format, the editor displays an error message and will not open the metadata.

Is metadata extracted when adding an item to My Content

No, not at this time. Metadata for these items can be updated using the web editor. If you have a local metadata document stored on your computer, you can open the document in the editor and import it to the item.

Can the organization switch metadata styles?

Yes, the organization can switch metadata style without losing any metadata. However, the style previously used for editing may not have all of the elements for the updated style. Item owners can update their metadata to the latest style through the editor. The latest style configured for the organization is the style that appears when viewing the metadata unless your metadata is already styled with an ISO-based standard and you switch style to a different ISO profile. In this case, your metadata is viewed with the authored style. At this time, you cannot switch styles within the editor.

How can I see all the items in my organization that have metadata?

You can search your organization's content using typekeywords:"Metadata", for example, http://myorg.maps.arcgis.com/home/search.html?q=typekeywords:"Metadata".

Metadata considerations

  • Currently, organizations can only choose one metadata style.
  • ArcGIS metadata format is the only format supported for importing metadata.
  • For hosted web layers that already had metadata in the data from ArcMap when you published, and at the time your organization was not enabled for metadata (for example, before July 8, 2015), you can enable viewing that metadata in the hosted web layer item by opening the metadata editor and clicking Save. This populates the metadata editor with the metadata in the style configured by the organization.
  • Currently, the title field is not synchronized between the built-in editor and item page. This includes when you upload a metadata XML file. The first time you open the editor, the field has the title from the item page. Any changes you make (and save) to the title from within the editor are saved to the standards-based metadata. They are not saved to the item page.
  • Currently, edits you make to a hosted WFS layer's metadata do not update the capabilities file of the underlying WFS service.
  • For the best performance with the metadata editor, use the latest version of Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, or Internet Explorer.