A quick tour of ArcIMS Metadata Services

An ArcIMS Metadata Service is a searchable online catalog of metadata that lets you find GIS resources. The Internet or intranet site from which you access and search the Metadata Service is often referred to as a GIS catalog portal.

Just as you can use different Internet search engines such as Yahoo! or Google, you can search metadata catalogs hosted by different organizations from their Internet or intranet sites. Your search result lists the resources that match your criteria, and you can view their metadata to see if you've found what you're looking for. You might also be able to preview the resource.

Any organization can provide a metadata catalog to give access to its maps, data, or tools. You also might be able to publish metadata to a catalog hosted by another organization.

Learn more about ArcIMS Metadata Services

Reviewing metadata before publishing

Before publishing any metadata, take a step back and review its content. The usefulness of a metadata catalog is entirely dependent on the quality of the metadata it contains. The same care should be taken with your metadata that you take when constructing the resource it describes.

The metadata should provide enough information for people to find it with a search. From the metadata, people must be able to find the resource it describes and use it successfully. Make sure there is a link to a download site or an online order form for media and that any restrictions related to using the resource have been documented. Your legal department should review this information. Also, make sure you remove any sensitive information you don't want to share with people outside your department or organization such as computer names.

The review process will take time initially, but it can save you time in the long run. Use the experience to develop a good template that will become the foundation of all your future metadata efforts.

Publishing metadata

If the metadata catalog you are publishing to is an ArcIMS Metadata Service, you can publish metadata by copying and pasting items from the Catalog window to the Metadata Service. You can also publish metadata using the Metadata Publisher geoprocessing tool. First, the service administrator must give you a user name and password that has the appropriate permissions. Then, connect to the ArcIMS server that hosts the Metadata Service with your user name and password.

When metadata is published, the metadata is retrieved from the item. A copy of the metadata is added to the Metadata Service's database and indexed for fast searching. The item itself—the geodatabase feature class, layer file, or ArcMap document—is not published or moved from its original location.

If the metadata doesn't have a thumbnail but does include a reference to an external graphic file in Graphic Interchange Format (GIF) or Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) format, ArcGIS checks if it can be accessed. If so, the external graphic file is loaded into the Metadata Service as the document's thumbnail. This capability is not provided by the Metadata Publisher tool.

If you have permission to create metadata for an ArcIMS Image or Feature Service, you can do so in ArcGIS. The metadata describing those services is not automatically published to a Metadata Service if one is hosted by the same ArcIMS server. To publish metadata describing a service, drag and drop the ArcIMS Image or Feature Service onto the Metadata Service; copy and paste is not supported for these items in the Catalog window, and these items aren't supported as inputs to geoprocessing tools.

When publishing metadata for ArcIMS Image and Feature Services, be sure to create and publish metadata for the service using the same login information.

Uniquely identifying published documents

When metadata is published to an ArcIMS Metadata Service, a unique identifier is generated if the metadata doesn't already contain one. This identifier is added to both the original and published copies of the metadata. ArcIMS Metadata Services use a GUID identifier that is separate from other identifiers that may have already been provided in the metadata content.

If updates are required after the metadata has been published, edit the ArcGIS item's metadata and republish it. The existing document in the Metadata Service is located using its unique identifier and replaced. If you directly update the published copy of the metadata, the original item's metadata won't contain your changes, and your changes will be lost if someone later republishes the original item.

If you copy metadata from one ArcGIS item to another without removing any unique identifiers that are present in the original metadata, many items will share an identifier—it will no longer be unique. If this occurs, the ArcIMS Metadata Service can't distinguish one document from another. When documents that share an identifier are published, the first document will be replaced by the second document, and so on.

You can add a unique identifier to an item's metadata before it is published by running the XSLT Transformation tool with the <ArcGIS Installation Location>\Metadata\Stylesheets\gpTools\add unique identifier.xslt file. If the metadata doesn't contain a unique identifier one will be added. If the metadata already contains a unique identifier it will be left untouched.


In previous releases of ArcGIS Desktop, you might have performed this operation using the MetaIDChecker utility.

Provide the string overwrite in the XSLT Transformation tool's XSLT Parameter argument if you want to change an existing unique identifier in the metadata. You might do this if you are preparing to release a new edition of an existing data product. By changing the existing identifiers, you ensure that metadata catalogs contain appropriate metadata that separately describes each edition of your data product.

Use the overwrite parameter with care. If you replace an item's unique identifier in error, the next time the metadata is published, the Metadata Service will contain a copy of the metadata. It may be difficult to find and remove the old copy.

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