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Minnesota Customizes ArcCatalog Metadata Tools
By Nancy Rader, GIS Data Coordination Specialist, Minnesota Planning

Editor's note: Users can create and modify metadata files based on a standard using the ArcCatalog metadata editor. Metadata editors that are based on the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards are included with ArcGIS. Stylesheets determine how metadata files, which are written in Extensible Markup Language (XML), are displayed. Stylesheets modify metadata display without changing how metadata is stored. Both metadata editors and stylesheets can be customized by users. The ArcObjects Developer Kit that comes with ArcGIS includes samples that show how a custom editor can be created programmatically and examples of custom stylesheets.

To ensure that documenting data becomes an integral part of GIS, Minnesota has added a customized ArcCatalog tool to its existing suite of metadata resources. Enhancements to DataLogr, the state's established metadata collection software, guarantee interoperability between traditional tools and the latest Esri products.

Supporting State Metadata Standards

For a number of years, Minnesota has used a streamlined version of the FGDC metadata standard called the Minnesota Geographic Metadata Guidelines (MGMG), described at To encourage GIS professionals to gather metadata, the state helped to develop and distribute a free stand-alone metadata tool.

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The Land Management Information Center at Minnesota Planning, in collaboration with the Metropolitan Council of the Twin Cities, has developed a metadata editor and stylesheet for ArcCatalog tailored to the state's existing metadata standards.

However, the state's many Esri software users wanted to work with metadata directly within their GIS. With the release of ArcGIS 8, the ArcCatalog metadata management tool has become an integral part of the software, making it much more convenient to use. Unfortunately, Minnesota users encountered a stumbling block: ArcCatalog supplies FGDC- and ISO-compliant editors, and the editor samples that come with ArcGIS support the FGDC metadata standard.

To provide an alternative for users who prefer to view or edit metadata using the Minnesota guidelines, the state adapted ArcGIS's sample editor. The new MGMG editor allows users to compose new metadata records and modify existing ones. It has built-in help for each element as well as references to general help within ArcGIS and related Web sites. In addition to the various federal and Esri stylesheets that come with the program, users can add a stylesheet that displays metadata in the standardized MGMG format.

More Support for Metadata

For Esri software users who do not have ArcCatalog, DataLogr is an easy-to-use, stand-alone metadata utility that also supports MGMG and is available from the Land Management Information Center. Since XML allows streamlined conversion between the two tools, records created with DataLogr can be easily shared with ArcCatalog users. No work is lost when users migrate to ArcGIS.

For more information or to download the free DataLogr program, visit the Land Management Information Center pages of the Minnesota Planning Web site at datalogr.html. The free MGMG editor and stylesheet can be downloaded from The Web site includes installation instructions as well as the simple steps for transferring records between ArcCatalog and DataLogr.

Regardless of the productivity tool used or the metadata standard adopted, ensuring that adding metadata is included in the GIS production process is critical. Effective data management, sharing, and reuse are impossible without it!

For more information, contact

Nancy Rader
Tel.: 651-297-3281
Christopher Cialek
Tel.: 651-297-2488

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