Working with standards-based metadata
Item descriptions are how ArcGIS users document their ArcGIS content for the items that appear in the Catalog window and as search results. This includes map, globe, and scene documents; layer files; geodatabases; datasets; geoprocessing tools; and so forth. Item descriptions also include standard metadata properties that you can record and manage as well.
These item descriptions are indexed and used in ArcGIS search and for daily work within ArcGIS. This enables your ability to quickly find and access the right ArcGIS items for your daily work. Item descriptions are designed to be simple and are focused on work that you do within your organization. They are designed to support search and other tasks that you perform within ArcGIS.
In addition, item descriptions are used to capture standards-based metadata that can be shared across an open community using Geospatial Metadata Portals such as ESRI's ArcGIS Server Portal toolkit. Metadata is based on a community-adopted standard and is used for sharing information outside ArcGIS among other members in that community, for example, for sharing within the North American community or the European community.
Metadata standards as a rule are comprehensive and require additional documentation for each item. Organizations in these communities agree on the standard set of metadata tags and the schema for how metadata documents are recorded and shared among members of the community. Many communities often publish a shared metadata catalog. The ArcGIS solution for publishing and managing open metadata portals uses the ArcGIS Server Portal toolkit.
The ArcGIS item description containing metadata can be exported to various standards-based metadata profiles using metadata conversion tools. These are included as tools in the ArcGIS geoprocessing framework.
Converting an item description to standards-based metadata
The Catalog window provides access to descriptions for each item in the tree view. The Edit button in the upper left corner of the item description is used to create and edit the item description. Each item description includes Metadata fields that you can edit.
Once you have created an item description, including its metadata properties, you can export the item description to a standards-based format that can be used in a Geospatial Metadata Catalog portal.
For more information, see A quick tour of importing and exporting metadata.