Metadata is any information that describes an item. In ArcGIS Enterprise, an item's information is created, edited, and viewed on the item details page. Some examples of item information include the item title, type, description, source, author, last modified date, thumbnail, and tags. This information helps others discover and validate the usefulness of the items. Within ArcGIS, item information is saved with the item it describes. It is copied, moved, and deleted with the item.
Metadata can also take the form of standards-based metadata documents or records, which are commonly referred to as geospatial metadata or metadata. Members of the default administrator role can enable metadata, allows members of the organization to use a 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 applies a stylesheet for the metadata standard and the schema used to validate metadata according to the standard. The style also configures the organization’s experience for editing and viewing metadata according to the standard.
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.. Even if metadata is disabled, you can view the metadata of those items that have it.
If organization administrators enable the beta metadata editor, an option is added to the Metadata button that allows you to open the item's metadata in a new metadata editor. Click the drop-down arrow on the Metadata button and click Open in Metadata Editor Beta.
At this release, the new metadata editor is a beta feature. While in beta, this feature may not be feature complete and, as such, may have known performance or quality issues and will not be supported by Esri Technical Support. Feedback on this feature can be provided on the Esri Community Metadata, Catalogs and Search page.
You will also see a Metadata button on the sublayer pages of hosted feature layers that have associated metadata. To view an individual layer's metadata in the metadata style configured for the organization, click the layer in the Layers or Tables list on the hosted feature layer or table layer's Overview tab and click Metadata on the sublayer's page.
Providing standards-based metadata with your item helps people learn about the item and decide which item best meets their needs. In ArcGIS, the metadata is saved with the item it describes. It is copied, moved, and deleted with the item and appears with items as they are used throughout the system.
Enable metadata for the organization
Administrators configure metadata for the organization through the organization item page settings. The configuration includes choosing the metadata style. The style controls how the metadata appears and which elements are required and available for creating the metadata on an item. The organization administrators should choose the style of metadata the organization already uses in other applications to create its metadata.
If an organization administrator disables metadata, the metadata is still part of the item, but you can no longer edit the item-level metadata in ArcGIS Enterprise. 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.
Additionally, any metadata associated with layers in a hosted feature layer is not lost if metadata is disabled for the organization; you can still view the layer-level metadata.
After the item owner adds metadata to the item, the owner sees the View or Edit options in the Metadata button. All other portal members who have access to the item can click the Metadata button 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 are not included in these official metadata standards and profiles.
If the organization allows use of the beta metadata editor, you'll see a drop-down option to update metadata in the beta editor.
When you open the editor for the item for the first time, the editor is populated with existing item information metadata from the following item page elements:
If you upload a local metadata .xml file in the ArcGIS metadata format, you have the option to overwrite the item details with the imported metadata from the .xml file or use the existing item information.
Owners of hosted feature layers and administrators can also add or edit metadata for individual sublayers in a hosted feature layer. If the layer was published without metadata, you can open the editor and add metadata. To open the layer's page, click the sublayer name in the Layers list.
Edit metadata for an item
Follow these steps to add or edit metadata for an item:
- Verify that you are signed in, have privileges to create content, and that your organization has enabled metadata.
- From the My Content tab of the content page, click the title of the item for which you want to include metadata.
The item's details page opens to the Overview tab.
- Click Metadata or, if the organization has enabled the beta metadata editor, click the down arrow and choose Open in Metadata Editor Beta.
- Provide metadata content that describes the item.
How you input metadata information varies depending on the editor you use. See the sections below for the appropriate editor.
At minimum, you must provide metadata for the elements that are required for the metadata style you're using. Elements with an asterisk (*) are the ones that are required.
You can see the metadata style of your organization by clicking Metadata > Profile.
When you finish adding or editing metadata values, click Save. If you don't save before closing the editor or opening the view of the metadata, you will lose your changes.
You have the following options in the metadata editor:
- View—Opens the metadata in a new browser tab with the style configured for the organization. To see changes made to the metadata, you must save them before you view the metadata.
- Validate—Verifies that you have provided information for the required elements for the metadata style. A message communicates if your document is valid or about any required elements that you haven't provided with links to those elements.
- Download—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.
- 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.
- Overwrite—Imports an existing metadata .xml file from your computer. Click Overwrite, click the browse button, and choose the file on your computer. The metadata .xml file must 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.
- Save—Saves your changes and keeps the metadata editor open.
- Close—Closes the editing session without saving.
Metadata editor beta
At minimum, you must provide metadata for the elements that are required for the metadata style you're using. These required elements have an asterisk (*) next to them. Your organization may have also specified minimum required fields. Both those required by the metadata style and your organization are presented on the Essential metadata tab.
To provide additional metadata beyond what is required, click the All metadata tab.
The beta metadata editor displays dynamic information about what metadata has been added and what is still required. The information is validated and updates as you edit the metadata.
Click Save when you finish editing and before you close the editor.
The following options are available from the Options button at the top of the editor:
- View XML—Opens the metadata in XML format in a new browser tab. No metadata style is applied to it. To see changes made to the metadata, you must save them before you view the metadata.
- View HTML—Opens the metadata in a new browser tab with the style configured for the organization. To see changes made to the metadata, you must save them before you view the metadata.
- Download—Creates an .xml file of the metadata in ArcGIS metadata format without a metadata style applied to it and downloads it to the local machine.
- Overwrite—Replaces the current metadata information with content uploaded from a metadata .xml file you choose. The file must be in ArcGIS metadata format. If you check the box next to Populate metadata with item details on the Overwrite window, certain metadata values such as the item name will be populated using the values you configured in the item's details.
- Reset—Deletes all metadata values other than those inherited from the item's 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 stylesheet to the ArcGIS metadata. The style controls how you view the metadata and 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 elements for an item. The information is indexed and searchable and is available to be used by applications across the platform. The item information 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 information is 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 specify an XML schema describing the format in which the content should be conveyed. 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 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 America 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, you can 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, click the feedback link at the bottom of the page to submit it.
What metadata styles are supported in ArcGIS Enterprise?
See the Metadata styles section above for a list of the standards-based metadata styles currently supported in ArcGIS Enterprise.
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 ArcGIS Enterprise 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.
- When you publish a hosted Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) 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 or later 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.
- Beginning with ArcGIS Pro 3.0, when you publish a hosted feature layer from feature classes or tables in a mobile geodatabase and they contain metadata, 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. 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.
- All items in your organization can be updated to include metadata by copying or importing metadata in ArcGIS Pro.
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 or ArcGIS Pro.
How can I export my metadata from ArcGIS Enterprise?
To download metadata for an item, click Download at the top of the metadata editor. If you're using the beta metadata editor, click the Options button to open the drop-down menu and choose Download. This local copy includes any changes made during the editing session that have not been saved to the item.
You can also save a copy of an item's metadata to HTML or XML format in ArcGIS Pro. See Save a copy of an item's ArcGIS metadata in the ArcGIS Pro help for instructions.
Is my metadata searchable?
Yes, currently content search uses specific elements from item details: title, tags, snippet, description, accessinformation. Changes you make to these elements 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; 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.
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. See Copy or import metadata to an item in the ArcGIS Pro help for instructions.
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, 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 zip file contains multiple shapefiles or the 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.
Consider the following when using metadata:
- Currently, organizations can choose only one metadata style.
- ArcGIS metadata format is the only format supported for importing metadata.
- Currently, the title element 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 element 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.