Formal metadata: information and software

A collection of software tools, techniques, admonitions, and advice intended to help those involved in data management create, maintain, and evaluate proper documentation.

What's it all about?

Formal metadata is documentation of data (usually geospatial data) that is arranged with a standard structure and format.

Software tools

Software that can help you create, validate, and maintain collections of metadata records that are stored as individual files.
Name Version Documentation
mp 2.9.32 A compiler for formal metadata

mp checks the structure of a metadata record against the FGDC standard, indicating discrepancies. It also re-expresses the metadata in several useful alternative formats.

cns 2.8.5 A pre-parser for formal metadata

cns is used in case a text metadata record appears to have correct element names but is in a format that cannot be parsed by mp. Usually the main problem to be corrected is inconsistent indentation, but cns corrects a variety of other conditions. Use with care.

xtme 2.7.23 An editor for formal metadata

For primitive installations of the X Window System in which Tcl/Tk is not available, xtme uses Athena widgets.

Tkme 2.9.29 Another editor for formal metadata

A versatile editing tool based on the Tcl/Tk toolkit.

mq 2.6.27 A Tcl interface for formal metadata

Software interface that can be used to implement sophisticated editing operations on large, diverse collections of metadata records that are stored as separate files.

DBFmeta 1.14 A tool to help document DBF files

Reads the DBF file and creates a Detailed_Description that can be pasted in a metadata record using Tkme. This tool can be used to detect spelling errors or other consistency problems in the data file.

err2html 2.1.13 Make mp's error messages easier to read

Re-expresses the error listing generated by mp to reduce duplication, show most severe messages first, and show hypertext links for element names.

Download software

The software tools described here are included in downloadable packages; to install simply extract.
System Package Contents Size
Microsoft Windows All programs, source code, documentation 4.6M
Microsoft Windows tkme.exe Tkme stand-alone runtime 2.0M
Linux (x64) bin_lnx.tar.gz All programs and documentation 1.5M
All src.tar.gz Source code and documentation 1.5M
All tkme.kit Tkme as a platform-independent starkit 950K

Web services:

  • Validation

    Use this web site instead of downloading mp, works for cns as well. [Alternative URL]

  • Contact_Information

    Search the USGS directory and get a snippet of Contact_Information you can paste into your metadata.

  • Citation_Information

    If you correctly guess the identifier of a USGS publication, this gives it to you formatted as Citation_Information, which you can paste into your metadata.

  • Data dictionary

    Create a table explaining the tables and fields in your database; this converts the table into a Detailed_Description for your Entity_and_Attribute_Information section

  • Enumerated_Domain

    Create a table of attribute values and their definitions; this creates as Enumerated_Domain metadata elements you can paste into your Attribute section.

  • Source_Information

    Attempts to reformat a typical scientific bibliography into Source_Information metadata elements. Not perfect.

Tips, tricks, and advanced topics: