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The procedures described here are for use in ArcCatalogue 8.x. Should you wish to use a different tool, you can start by looking at the FGDC's website for links to other tools.
ArcCatalogue 8.x makes the creation and upkeep of metadata very easy. Figure 1 shows the buttons used to interact with the metadata, and Figure 2 shows the options available to you when editing the metadata.
Metadata can be created for any type of data that is recognized by ArcGIS, including coverages, grids, shapefiles, ArcMap layers, and tables.
1) Creating/Updating Metadata
You first need to click on the "Create/Update metadata" button. It will almost seem as though nothing has happened, but in actuality the program has created the XML file that the metadata is stored in. It has also collected basic information from the dataset, such as the name of the file and the type of data. The XML file is created in the same directory as the data, and has a filename of:
2) Editing Metadata
Once the metadata is created, you MUST edit it. Without edits, none of the essential information is filled in. Again, Figure 2 shows the options available to you once you choose to edit the metadata. You can also see that ArcCatalogue makes it very obvious which fields are required by the FGDC standards by filling it in with text that begins with "REQUIRED:". Sections 1 (Identification) and 7 (Metadata Reference) are the only sections required by FGDC standards.
ArcCatalogue also has a good help section, which is accessible from the "Help" button (Fig. 3).
3) Metadata Properties
By default, ArcCatalogue will update the properties of your metadata every time you view it. This means that if you are performing extensive edits on the data, every time you view the metadata ArcCatalogue will take the time to recount the number of features, redefine the spatial extent, etc. To turn this off and make the update process manual, simply open up the "Metadata Properties" and put a check in the box on the "Options" tab (Fig. 10).
You can also enclose files with the metadata, which works the same as if you attached a file to an email (Fig. 11). This means that you can attach photographs, images, or text files that help further describe the data or the area that the data represents. Any type or format of file can be attached.
4) Importing Metadata
If you have created metadata in another format, you can import it. The supported formats are:
Simply click on the "Import" button and choose the format of the existing file as well as its location. You have the option here to enable or disable the automatic update. (Fig. 12)
Once the metadata has been imported, it can be edited as described above.
5) Exporting Metadata
Metadata created in ArcGIS 8.x can be exported to the following formats:
By default, the exported file is given a name of "metadata.extension".