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Create ISO 19115 and ISO 19139 metadata

The metadata content standard ISO 19115, Geographic information — Metadata and the implementation specification ISO 19139, Geographic information — Metadata — XML schema implementation, are well-known standards that have been used internationally for many years. This guide describes the workflows for editing metadata in ArcGIS Pro to produce content that complies with these standards.

Learn more about ISO metadata standards

Configure ArcGIS Pro

The first step toward creating metadata content that complies with the ISO 19115 and ISO 19139 metadata standards is to configure ArcGIS Pro correctly. On the Options dialog box, choose the appropriate metadata style in the Metadata style drop-down list. Two options are available.

  • ISO 19139 Metadata Implementation Specification—This style lets you view and edit a complete metadata document that complies with ISO standards 19115 and 19139. When metadata is exported to an ISO 19139-format XML file using other applications in the ArcGIS platform, the resulting file can be validated with versions of the ISO 19139 XML Schemas that use an older version of GML.
  • ISO 19139 Metadata Implementation Specification GML3.2—This style is identical to the one above. However, when metadata is exported to an ISO 19139-format XML file using other applications in the ArcGIS platform, the resulting file can be validated with versions of the ISO 19139 XML Schemas that use the 3.2.1 version of GML.

When you edit metadata in the Metadata view, both styles will present you with the same validation rules based on the ISO 19115 and ISO 19139 metadata standards. When you view an item's metadata in the Catalog view, all of its metadata content will be displayed.

If the metadata style set in ArcGIS Pro doesn't match the metadata style used by your organization and by ArcGIS Desktop, you may see inconsistencies when you view and edit metadata throughout the ArcGIS platform.

Edit ISO metadata content

You can create full ISO 19115 and ISO 19139 metadata for an item in ArcGIS Pro. To get started, complete the following steps:

  1. Edit an item's metadata in the Metadata view.
    The Metadata view appears displaying the first metadata editor page. All pages available for editing metadata are listed in the Contents pane.
  2. Provide the required information on each page in the Contents pane marked with a red x.
  3. Save your changes as appropriate.

    It may take some time to complete an item's metadata. You can save your changes and finish the remainder at a later time, even if required information is missing. The next time you work on this project the Metadata view will be open to the page you worked on last.

  4. Close the Metadata view when your work is complete.

Create ISO-compliant metadata

The following table describes where you can find each of the minimum mandatory ISO 19115 and ISO 19139 metadata elements. You're not limited to providing the information below; this information is provided to help you get started. If information beyond the minimum is provided, additional content may be required to complement that information according to the standards.

Metadata elements are identified by entity and element names defined in the ISO 19115 Geographic information — Metadata UML diagrams and data dictionary tables.

Metadata editor pageSteps to fulfill ISO 19115 and 19139 requirements
Overview > Item Description
  • MD_DataIdentification.citation.CI_Citation.title—Type the title in the Title text box.
  • MD_DataIdentification.abstract—Type the abstract in the Description (Abstract) text box.
  • MD_DataIdentification.extent.EX_Extent.geographicElement.EX_GeographicBoundingBox—If the item's hierarchyLevel is dataset and a bounding box hasn't been provided automatically for the item but an extent can be provided, click New Bounding Box. Provide the bounding coordinates in the appropriate text boxes.
Overview > Topics & Keywords
  • MD_DataIdentification.topicCategory—If the item's hierarchyLevel is dataset or series, check as many Topic Category values as appropriate.
Overview > Citation
  • MD_DataIdentification.citation.CI_Citation.title—The title provided on the Item Description page also appears here in the Title text box.
  • MD_DataIdentification.citation.CI_Citation.date—Click the Dates heading. Click the calendar icon next to one or more of the listed date types and select an appropriate date. Add a time if the information is significant.
Metadata > Details
  • MD_Metadata.language—Click the Language drop-down list and click an appropriate value if one hasn't already been provided. ArcGIS metadata is always encoded in UTF-8 format, which accommodates many languages, therefore the language used must be identified.
  • MD_Metadata.hierarchyLevel—If the item is not a dataset, click the Hierarchy Level drop-down list and click an appropriate value.
  • MD_Metadata.hierarchyLevelName—If the item's hierarchyValue was changed to something other than dataset, type a name for the chosen hierarchy level into the Hierarchy Level Name text box.
  • MD_Metadata.parentIdentifier—If this item has a parent item that should be identified, type the appropriate information into the Parent Identifier text box.
Metadata > Contacts
  • MD_Metadata.contact—Click New Contact if an appropriate contact isn't already listed in the drop-down list. Type a name into the Name, Organization, or Position text box. Click an appropriate value in the Role drop-down list.
Resource > Details
  • MD_DataIdentification.language—Click the Language drop-down list and click an appropriate value if one hasn't already been provided.
  • MD_DataIdentification.characterSet—If the item is not encoded in Unicode format, click the Character Set drop-down list and click the appropriate value.
Resource > Extents
  • MD_DataIdentification.extent.EX_Extent.geographicElement—If the item's hierarchyLevel is dataset, you must provide either a bounding box (EX_GeographicBoundingBox) or a place identifier (EX_GeographicDescription) for the data. Click New Extent, and specify the item's geographic location.
  • EX_GeographicBoundingBox—The bounding box provided on the Item Description page also appears here under the Extents heading.
  • EX_GeographicDescription—Click New Geographic Description and type a place identifier in the Code text box. Check Description contains the resource. To identify the registry that defines the place identifier, click New Authority Citation and type its name into the Title text box. Click the Dates heading, and click a calendar icon to specify the date of the registry.

Best practices for authoring ISO content in ArcGIS

ArcGIS allows you to create a full ISO 19115 and 19139 metadata record to describe an item. However, there are a few differences between the instructions in ISO 19115 and ISO 19139 and how you should provide the corresponding information in ArcGIS. By following some best practices, the metadata you create in ArcGIS will be accurate and easier to maintain and will transition seamlessly to other metadata styles and formats in the future.

Inapplicable or unknown values

When a metadata element's value is unknown or inapplicable, leave its value blank when you edit metadata in ArcGIS. If a mandatory metadata element is left blank in ArcGIS and metadata is exported to an ISO 19139-formatted XML file using other applications in the ArcGIS platform, a nilReason code will be added automatically in a manner that satisfies the ISO 19139 XML Schemas to indicate that the value is missing or unknown. Other metadata standards have similar requirements, but different elements are considered mandatory and the manner in which the uncertainty or absence of a value is indicated in the exported XML file is different. Exporters for each style handle the situation in an appropriate manner.

Content defined by the metadata style

A metadata style configures ArcGIS to support a specific metadata standard or profile. Each metadata standard typically has metadata elements to record the name and version of the standard that was followed, how the metadata content was recorded, and so on. Exporters for each style handle the situation in an appropriate manner. When metadata is exported to an ISO 19139-formatted XML file using other applications in the ArcGIS platform, the metadataStandardName and metadataStandardVersion elements are added at that time.

Content that can't or shouldn't be edited

For most items, ArcGIS automatically records the item's intrinsic properties in its metadata as appropriate. For example, if an item's spatial reference is set, full details of that spatial reference are recorded in its metadata. Detailed spatial reference properties can't be edited manually in the Metadata view. This ensures the metadata reflects the item's actual spatial reference. With other metadata styles you can manually provide information about an item's spatial reference for items that don't support synchronization, but you can only do so by providing the spatial reference identifier. The properties of the spatial reference are fixed for that identifier, and they can be examined in the appropriate registry where they are defined; individual spatial reference parameters are not manually typed into an item's metadata.

For other properties such as an item's feature count, raster size, or attribute labels, it is possible to change the information derived from the item when editing metadata in ArcGIS. However, these values should be left unaltered. As long as these values aren't edited in the Metadata view, ArcGIS will continue to update them as the item's properties change and they will remain accurate. For example, if attributes are provided in an item's metadata but their names don't match field names in the item's attribute table, they will be removed from the item's metadata the next time it is synchronized with the item's intrinsic properties.

The ArcGIS metadata editor automatically provides the current date as the date when the metadata was last updated, and the appropriate character set value describing how metadata created by ArcGIS is encoded. These values typically should not be modified. However, if you are transcribing metadata that describes an archived item, for example, you may want to change the metadata date to reflect the date when the metadata content was originally authored.

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