Geospatial Metadata Tools

How do I determine the best metadata tool?

There are a variety of free and commercial software tools available to support metadata development. These tools offer a range of features and capabilities. When evaluating the right tool consider the following:

  • Does your GIS software provide an internal data/metadata management utility that supports the auto-capture of data set properties (extent, projection, attribute labels, etc.)?
  • Do you need a tool that supports one or more CSDGM Profiles or Extensions?
  • Do you need to document data resource beyond those managed within your GIS?
  • Do you need a tool that is easily distributed to partners?
  • What features are most important to you?
    • auto-capture of information
    • bundling of metadata with data
    • creation and use of templates
    • easy to use interface
    • robust help systems and tutorials

The FGDC does not promote the use of any specific metadata tool. It does however, test compliance to the CSDGM using the Metadata Parser (mp) utility developed by Peter Schweitzer of the USGS.

Metadata Tools for Geospatial Data is an independent metadata software evaluation site maintained by Hugh Phillips and hosted by the Wisconsin Land Information Clearinghouse (WiscLINC).

ISO Geospatial Metadata Editors Registry Feature information collected from developers and users about available ISO 19115 Metadata Editors

What metadata creation and editing tools are available?

The following is not an exhaustive listing and does not imply FGDC endorsement:

Freeware/Shareware tools

  • tkme - Windows-based tool developed and actively maintained by Peter Schweitzer of the USGS Geology Discipline. Supports the biological, shoreline, and remote sensing profiles/extensions.
  • xtme - Unix-based version of tkme.
  • MERMAid - Online utility for creating, editing, validating, storing and exporting metadata records via the NOAA Coastal Data Development Center. Provides rigorous validation, managed workflow with customized permissions, change tracking, and storage of files associated with the metadata. MERMAid supports the FGDC standard, the biological and shoreline profiles and the remote sensing extension, and provides the ablilty for metadata conversion among these standards. An export option includes the conversion of FGDC metadata to MARC-XML. MERMAid also supports the Ecological Metadata Language.
  • Metavist 2005 - Stand-along metadata creation and editing tool developed by the USDA Forest Service North Central Research Station. Metavist 2005 creates metadata compliant with the CSDGM (FGDC) 1998 metadata standard and the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) 1999 Biological Data Profile for the FGDC standard. The software runs under the Microsoft Windows 2000 and XP operating systems, and requires the presence of Microsoft's .Net Framework version 1.1. The metadata are output in XML format.
  • EPA Metadata Editor - The EPA Metadata Editor (EME) is a simple geospatial metadata editor that allows users to create and edit records that meet the EPA Geospatial Metadata Technical Specification and Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM) requirements. EME is an extension to ESRI's ArcCatalog.
  • USGS Online Metadata Editor - A tool designed to help you document your dataset by asking questions about your data using jargon-free language. Using this freely available tool you can: login and start new records or upload and edit existing ones; see all records you have created or uploaded in the past; save records and return later to complete them; and save completed records to your desktop.   Currently the tool supports XML output in the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata. Note: At this time, the Editor is available only to USGS staff. USGS will be migrating the tool to a different authentication system in early 2015 to support other users outside USGS.
  • USGS Metadata Wizard - The U.S. Geological Survey Metadata Wizard is a Python toolbox for ESRI ArcDesktop to facilitate a semi-automated workflow to create and update CSDGM metadata records in ESRI's 10.x software. The tool offers a simple design free of cryptic metadata language and automatically populates several metadata elements for inputs: the spatial reference, spatial extent, geospatial presentation format, vector feature count or raster column/row count, native system/processing environment, and the metadata creation date. Once the software auto-populates these elements, users can easily add attribute definitions and other relevant metadata information in a simple Graphical User Interface. A working version of the tool is now available for ESRI ArcDesktop, version 10.0, 10.1, and 10.2.

Commercial tools:

  • ArcGIS 10 – Esri’s ArcGIS Desktop applications store metadata using a proprietary (but publicly documented) schema.  The software uses "styles" and XSLT transformations to support import, editing, synchronization, and export of metadata conforming to multiple standards, including  FGDC CSDGM,  ISO 19115, and others. At 10.x, ArcGIS metadata does not  support XLink, although it does allow saving and restoring of "snippets" of content in the editor.  ArcGIS Desktop search takes advantage of metadata records associated with datasets and tools.  For more information, read:   A new approach for Metadata with ArcGIS 10. 
  • GeoMedia Catalog - Intergraph’s GeoMedia (v6.0) geospatial metadata management functions that include metadata creation and editing functions, data search and discovery functions, auto-capture of data properties from most vector and raster data types, creation of custom templates, and the creation of contact, citation, distribution methods and keyword libraries that support re-use of information. Supports the FGDC biological profile and export/publication of ISO-19139PDTS XML metadata files.
  • SMMS (stand-alone) - Stand-alone desk-top version of SMMS GeoMedia that does not require the installation of Intergraph GeoMedia software.
  • MapInfo Manager - Pitney Bowes’ metadata management tool enables organizations to build, maintain and manage centralized catalogs of spatial data enabling easy search, access and utilization of data – enterprise wide. Open standards based MapInfo Manager is suitable for a wide variety of potential users.

What metadata tools are available to assess compliance to the CSDGM?

Freeware/Shareware tools:

The following metadata validation tools are used to check the compliance of a metadata record to the CSDGM. The tools presented are shareware products developed and actively maintained by Peter Schweitzer of the USGS Geology Discipline.

  • Metadata Parser (mp) - Available as a Windows, Unix, and Linux utility that checks for conformance to CSDGM specified:
    • conditionality (are all mandatory elements are populated?)
    • data formats 
    • element domains.
  • Chew-N-Spit (cns) - A metadata pre-parser designed to convert poorly formatted metadata into a record that can be parsed by mp or read by tkme/xtme. The utility looks for text that resembles CSDGM element names, inserts the underscores required to identify element names, e.g. Identification_Information, and reformats the text into the hierarchical structure specified by the CSDGM. The pre-parser is typically applied to metadata produced using a text editor or word processing software. Metadata produced by most metadata creation and editing software does not require use of CNS.
  • Geospatial Metadata Validation Service - An online version of mp that will review and report errors for metadata uploaded in indented text, XML, and SGML formats.
  • MP Batch - A downloadable free utility developed by Intergraph that allows users to pre-configure parameters which control the operation of "cns" and "mp," and to store them in one or more initialization (*.INI) files, so they can be utilized for subsequent use by the MP Batch Processor. Users can then select a saved INI file and use its stored parameters in processing batches of input files through "cns" and "mp."

What other metadata software and utilities are available?

The following software and utilities are available from the USGS Geology Discipline site maintained by Peter Schweitzer, Formal Metadata: Information and Software.

  • err2html - interprets the mp error reports into more easily understood language.
  • DBFmeta - converts dbf files to an CSDGM Entity and Attribute Detailed_Description.
  • mq - provides an interface to apply advanced editing operations to large, diverse collections of metadata.

Additional metadata software and utilities are described at the