For the first time in a decade, metadata has a new look and feel with ArcGIS 10. While it may take some getting used to, these changes provide new opportunities for creating and managing metadata. While adapting to the new environment, it may help to understand the goals for metadata with this release.
To start with, both the FGDC and ISO metadata editors provided with ArcGIS 9.3.1 were written using Visual Basic 6. Several metadata utilities provided with ArcGIS Desktop and developer samples were also written using Visual Basic 6. Since ArcGIS 10 doesn’t support Visual Basic 6, the stage was set to build a new metadata solution.
Support for metadata standards
One goal for ArcGIS 10 is to support creating complete metadata that complies with the following standards.
- The Federal Geographic Data Committee’s (FGDC) Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM).
- ISO 19139, Geographic Information – Metadata – Implementation Specification. This standard provides instruction for implementing ISO 19115, a metadata content standard for describing data, and ISO 19119, a metadata content standard for describing services
- The North American Profile of ISO 19115:2003 (NAP). This has been adopted in Canada and by the U.S., though the FGDC CSDGM remains the defacto U.S. standard at this time.
- INSPIRE Metadata Implementing Rules, for Europe.
Satisfying this requirement is difficult when the standards themselves are often in flux. New profiles of these standards are being created and several ISO metadata standards are entering phases of review and revision, including ISO 19115 and ISO 19119. With the review of ISO 19110 Feature Cataloguing Methodology, support for documenting feature attributes will likely be added to a future revision of ISO 19139. And, in an increasingly global society, there is a need to create metadata that satisfies multiple standards and profiles so information can be shared among different communities.
The solution is to create one new metadata editor that lets you author metadata content appropriately for all metadata standards. With one environment for working with metadata, all ArcGIS users can have the same metadata experience, and that experience will remain constant despite ongoing changes to the standards themselves. Whether you author FGDC metadata today or North American Profile metadata tomorrow, you work with metadata the same way in ArcGIS 10.
You might miss the ArcGIS 9.3.1 FGDC metadata editor because you’re an FGDC CSDGM expert and know it like the back of your hand. But, let’s face it, it’s not a very good application—as witnessed by the continuing frustrations of new metadata users.
Others might miss the ArcGIS 9.3.1 ISO metadata editor because it’s easier to use and has a nice way to help you create valid metadata. But, because of its design limitations, an enormous number of new pages would be required to create ISO 19139-compliant metadata and there’s nothing easy about that.
Our goal with ArcGIS 10 was to build an easy-to-use metadata editor based on the best qualities of the old editors but with modern Web-style forms for editing content. This includes future updates to ArcGIS 10 features such as reusing contact information and validating metadata content in a similar manner to the 9.3.1 ISO metadata editor.
The resulting ArcGIS metadata editor is based on the .NET 3.5 Framework, which uses W3C-compliant XSLT stylesheets for metadata display. This is an improvement on the ArcGIS 9.3.1 metadata environment, which was based on version 3.0 of the Microsoft MSXML parser, using its decade-old XML technology for managing metadata content and its proprietary XSL stylesheet technology for viewing metadata. However, the .NET Framework prevents ArcGIS 10 from supporting the old, non-standard XSL stylesheets that were used in previous ArcGIS releases. Also, the new forms for editing metadata require changing how some information is stored in the metadata because of how they interact with XML documents.
More blog post on this new approach for metadata coming soon… Next up we’ll cover the new XML format and talk about Metadata styles.
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