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A Review of MetaMaker

Jerry D. Cox
USGS Environmental Management Technical Center, Onalaska, Wisconsin

MetaMaker and MetaMaker Version 2 are Windows-based programs for working with metadata. Metadata—data elements that describe other data—are the key to cataloging and retrieving the large volumes of geospatial and biological data being collected. Critical to the process is uniformity and accuracy of the data in describing other data. In 1992, the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) initiated a forum to discuss standards for the metadata used to describe geospatial data. MetaMaker (beta Version 1.11) was developed to help satisfy the requirement that federal agencies meet the standards developed by the FGDC (1995). The National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) MetaMaker (Version 2) was then developed to meet the standards for both biological and spatial metadata set by the NBII (Schneider and White 1996). MetaMaker Version 2 is currently the only relational database for geospatial data and biological metadata. Program development was a joint effort by two centers of the U.S. Geological Survey, the Midcontinent Environmental Science Center (MESC, Fort Collins, Colorado) and the Environmental Management Technical Center (EMTC, Onalaska, Wisconsin).

Primary functions of NBII MetaMaker include

Add New Metadata Dataset
Edit Metadata Dataset Menu
Query Menu
Import, Export Menu
Report Menu
Template Menu

all accessible from the main menu. With basic knowledge of NBII MetaMaker and of the data being described, the user can navigate through the program to either input or retrieve information about the primary data. MetaMaker and NBII MetaMaker operate in Microsoft Access. The complete program is available for free at the EMTC Web site.

The purpose of the Add New Metadata Dataset function is to add the name of the new metadata data set to the list of other data sets. This function safeguards the integrity of the database by ensuring the uniqueness of the data set names. A list of existing data set names is available in the window to help the user generate a unique name. Details for the new data set must be entered using the edit feature.

The Edit Metadata Dataset Menu function allows the user to duplicate an existing data set, change the name of any data set, and modify any field in the data set. When duplicating an existing data set, which is an alternate method of adding a new data set, the program forces the user to change the name so it is unique. A bonus of this feature is the ease of entering metadata data sets for repetitive data that vary in only a few fields or variables.

The Query Menu has six query options: Dataset Name, Theme, Place, Stratum, Temporal, and Taxonomic. A PickList (a predetermined set of names, words, or values) for searching the data set accompanies each query selection button. The Dataset Name button lists the data set names present in the database. The other query options have PickLists with words not necessarily present in the database. If more than one database meets the criteria of the search, the user can select from the resulting list.

The Import, Export Menu provides a way for the user to move data from one MetaMaker database to another, including data created in an earlier version of MetaMaker being imported (moved) to a database created in a later version. A dataset to be imported must have been created by exporting from any version of MetaMaker. An exported dataset is an MS ACCESS database containing the single dataset and has a ".mdb" file extension.

The Report Menu allows the user three output options. A report built with this option can be sent to the monitor for previewing before printing, printed without previewing, or written to an electronic file for later use. The preview feature includes printer selection and selecting the pages of the report to print. Printing without the preview sends all pages of the report to the default printer. Sending the report to a file creates an ASCII file containing the same information as the report. The Additional Information Menu allows the user to see a report on additional comments attached to the database that are not part of the primary data.

The Template Menu gives the user the option of modifying the Citation, Time Period, Contact, Keyword PickList, Distribution Disclaimer Statement, and Additional Information fields directly. The program guides the user through the selection and change process.

The program comes with a User Manual, the FGDC Content Standards for Digital Geospatial Metadata, the Content Standard for National Biological Information Infrastructure Metadata, and a Graphical Representation of the NBII Content Standards. These four items are included in the electronic file and can be read from the monitor or printed for hard copy reference.

The NBII MetaMaker (Version 2.1) currently available for downloading from the EMTC Web site has hardware requirements of a 486 or faster IBM-compatible microcomputer with at least 12 megabytes (MB) of random access memory (RAM). MetaMaker Version 2.1 is being used at several universities in the U.S., including Iowa State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and in the U.S. Virgin Islands and several foreign countries, including Brazil, France, Korea, and Sweden. Since its development, MetaMaker has had two versions and four upgrades. The newest version (2.2) will have several significant improvements, including expanded import-export capabilities for multiple files and the capability to run CNS and MP parsers to generate HTML, SGML, Dif, and Text output files. Version 2.2 is expected to be available for beta testing October 31, 1997. For more information about MetaMaker, e-mail David E. Hansen (David_E_Hansen@usgs.gov) or call at (608) 783-7550 ext. 704.

Literature Cited

Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC). 1995. Content standards for digital geospatial metadata workbook (March 24). Federal Geographic Data Committee. Washington, D.C.

Schneider, D.M., and B. White. 1996. User’s manual: NBII MetaMaker version 2.0. Getting started and navigation tips. U.S. Geological Survey, Midcontinent Ecological Science Center, Fort Collins, Colorado. Published by the Environmental Management Technical Center, Onalaska, Wisconsin. November 1996. 19 pp. + Appendixes A-B.

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