Metadata is information that describes an item. In ArcGIS Enterprise, 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, and restrictions associated with using and sharing the item. 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.
Members of the default administrator role can enable metadata, which allows portal members 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. Organization administrators select a metadata style, which configures the portal’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 administrator switches the metadata style.
A built-in metadata viewer is available to allow you to see the metadata associated with an item. If your organization has metadata enabled, this same viewer allows item owners and administrators to edit the metadata. To provide you with access to the viewer, a Metadata button appears on item pages in the following circumstances:
- For organizations that have enabled metadata, the Metadata button is available to item owners and administrators so they can add metadata and edit.
- Once an item has metadata, the Metadata button is available to anyone who has access to the item to allow them to view the item's metadata. This is true no matter how the metadata was added—directly to the item or included when you published the data from ArcGIS Pro or ArcMap. Even if metadata is disabled, you can view the metadata of those items that have it.
You will also see a Metadata link in the Layers list for any hosted feature layer that has associated metadata. The link allows anyone with access to the hosted feature layer's item page to view the individual layer's metadata in the metadata style configured for the organization. Similarly, if a table was published with metadata, you'll see a Metadata link in the Tables list.
Providing standards-based metadata with your item helps people learn about the item and decide if they want to use it.
Once the item owner has added metadata to the item, the owner sees a choice to View or Edit from within the Metadata button. All other portal members who have access to the item sees the Metadata button and can use it to view the metadata in the metadata style configured for the portal.
You will also see a Metadata link in the Layers list for any hosted feature layer that has associated metadata. The link allows anyone with access to the hosted feature layer's item page to view the individual layer's metadata in the metadata style configured for the portal. Similarly, if a table was published with metadata, you'll see a Metadata link in the Tables list.
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 CSDGM metadata content, all ISO 19139 metadata content, all North America 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 you open the editor for the item 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 for an item.
At this time, metadata editing is only available at the item level for hosted feature layers. Any metadata associated with layers in a hosted feature layer can be viewed, but not edited, using the Metadata link in the Layers list.
- Verify that you are signed in, have privileges to create content, and that your organization administrator has enabled metadata for the portal.
- From the My Content tab of the content page, click the title of the item for which you want to include metadata.
- Click Metadata and provide metadata content that describes the item. Fields with an asterisk (*) are required for the metadata style you're using.
You can see the metadata style of your portal by opening the Metadata > Profile tab.
- 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.
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 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 portal, item details properties are synchronized with the item’s standards-based metadata.
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 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 and validate it using the ISO 19139 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, and validate it using the standard's XML Schemas. Use this style to create metadata that complies with ISO standard 19115, Geographic information — Metadata.
- ISO 19139 Metadata Implementation Specification GML3.2—This style is identical to the one above, except the 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 metadata files using the NOAA NCDDC XML Schemas.
- North America 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, 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 whether a metadata element is optional, 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 Enterprise. 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 Enterprise?
Currently, the following standards-based metadata styles are supported in ArcGIS Enterprise: FGDC CSDGM Metadata, INSPIRE Metadata Directive, ISO 19139 Metadata Implementation Specification GML3.2, ISO 19139 Metadata Implementation Specification, and North America Profile of ISO 19115 2003.
How is metadata supported in ArcGIS Enterprise?
You can create and share metadata on all of the items supported by ArcGIS Enterprise 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 administrator. Currently, the administrator can configure one metadata style for creating, editing, and viewing metadata. The administrator can change the style, though, 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 for 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 an ArcGIS Enterprise portal from ArcMap or a service definition file created in ArcMap, metadata is automatically made available with the layer item. If you publish from ArcGIS Pro, the metadata for the map or layer that you publish is included in the hosted feature layer.
For hosted feature layers, layer-level metadata is also included when you publish from ArcGIS Pro.
- 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 the portal. 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.
- 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.
- When you publish a shapefile that contains metadata or a file geodatabase that contains feature classes and tables with metadata, that metadata is included in the hosted feature layer, and you can view each layer's metadata on the feature layer's item page in the portal.
- When the ArcGIS Pro 2.2 map you publish as a hosted feature layer contains feature classes or tables that have metadata, or metadata is saved with the layer in the map, that metadata is included in the hosted feature layer. You can view each layer's metadata on the feature layer's item page in the portal.
- When you create a hosted feature layer view from a hosted feature layer, the view inherits metadata from the hosted feature layer and its layers.
How do I get my metadata into ArcGIS Enterprise?
- See the previous question and answer for information on how metadata is published from ArcGIS Pro or ArcMap. Note that at this time, you can only edit layer-level metadata by overwriting the layer. Metadata is not published to the layer item when you publish from a tile package.
- Metadata for any item can be updated using the web editor. In ArcGIS Pro and ArcMap, you can edit metadata for the items available in those apps.
- All items in your portal can be updated to include metadata using one of the following methods:
- Copy or import metadata in ArcGIS Pro.
- Use the XSLT Transformation geoprocessing tool from ArcMap with one of the following style sheets 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.
How is metadata supported in ArcGIS Pro?
ArcGIS Pro supports editing standards-based metadata for any item you own that can be accessed in ArcGIS Pro. See View and edit metadata in the ArcGIS Pro help for more information.
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 your portal, 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, ArcGIS Pro, or ArcMap.
How can I export my metadata from ArcGIS Enterprise?
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. Metadata associated with the layers in a feature layer is not searchable.
Is metadata included when data is exported from my hosted feature layer?
Yes, any metadata associated with the layer is automatically included when you export data from a hosted feature layer in shapefile or file geodatabase format.
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. 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. You can use the XSLT Transformation geoprocessing tool from ArcMap to convert other metadata formats to the ArcGIS metadata format. With ArcGIS Pro, you can import a standards-based metadata format to the item. As part of this process, the metadata is converted to the ArcGIS metadata format.
Is metadata extracted when adding an item to the My Content tab of the content page?
When publishing a file geodatabase or shapefile, or when you publish a hosted feature layer from ArcGIS Pro or ArcMap, any metadata included with the data is automatically made available with the layer. If the shapefile or file geodatabase contains only one layer and has metadata, both the item and the layer will have the associated metadata. If the shapefile or file geodatabase contains multiple layers, metadata is only available with the layers that contain metadata; it is not associated with the item.
Can the organization switch metadata styles?
Yes, the administrator can switch the metadata style for the organization 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.
- Currently, organizations can only choose one metadata style.
- ArcGIS metadata format is the only format supported for importing metadata.
- If your portal was not configured for metadata when you published a hosted web layer that already had metadata in the data from ArcMap, you can enable viewing that metadata once the organization administrator has enabled metadata for the portal. To do this, open the hosted web layer's item page, open the metadata editor, and click Save. This populates the metadata editor with the metadata in the style configured by the organization administrator.
- 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.
- At this time, layer-level metadata can only be viewed, not edited.