Metadata preparation and formatting

A number of metadata editors have been written for different user communities on different computer platforms, and have been evaluated over time for their compliance and performance. Please see the Metadata Tools section of the FGDC website for information on evaluated software that supports FGDC metadata collection and management.

Generally speaking, metadata is collected in a metadata editor that provides a user with input forms to enter, update, and output metadata. Some metadata management systems use databases or GIS software to minimize user input requirements. Select a metadata management system that fits your computer environment, business practices, and expertise.

It is worth noting that the complexity of the metadata standard has caused different interpretations of how the information must be internally structured. Although the standard does not dictate a specific output format, the presence and repeatibility of certain data elements is required. Consequently, a metadata editor that can save or export its metadata into an XML format is recommended for maximum compatibility. This does not guarantee that the output will be fully valid -- the population of mandatory content is still required. The Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM), otherwise known as the FGDC metadata standard has a published Document Type Declaration (DTD) and an XML Schema Document (XSD) representation to assist in validating the structure and, to a lesser degree, the content of the metadata.

For service of FGDC metadata using Isite, only the XML form of the FGDC metadata is required. One may also create other formats of the metadata for presentation, but only the XML form is required for harvesting and processing by the portal. The mp (metadata parser) software can be used to convert other forms of FGDC metadata to XML from the command line. The command usage is as follows:

mp [-e efile] [-c cfile] [-t tfile] [-h hfile] [-s sfile] [-x xfile] input_file

 where efile will contain syntax errors
 cfile contains configuration info
 tfile will contain text output
 hfile will contain html output
 sfile will contain sgml output
 xfile will contain XML output

mp -e soils100.err -h soils100.html -x soils100.xml soils100.txt


  • errors are written to soils100.err
  • HTML is written to soils100.html
  • XML is written to soils100.xml
  • input file is soils100.txt.


Review of the errors file will reveal if and where problems may occur in the FGDC metadata. Errors are usually structural problems where elements are missing; errors must be fixed. Warnings should be looked at and repaired but will not affect subsequent parsing. Both errors and warnings should be examined to provide feedback to future metadata collection. It is most critical to repair errors in "popular" and searchable fields such as title, abstract, bounding coordinates, etc. to assure proper discovery, although all errors should be reviewed so that metadata is not improperly encoded.

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