1. What is Metadata

Metadata are snippets of data that describe rudimentary information about a more elaborate data set. This enables you to comprehend, work on, share and find iterations of data in a much simpler way than if you had no information about a piece of data.

For example, if you purchase an e-book from an eBooks publisher it will most often have metadata that describes:

• The author

• Title

• Series

• Date of Publishing

• The publisher

• Comments or a synopsis of the book and

• An image of the cover of the book

In old physical book library systems, index cards had the metadata or information that allowed you to find a specific book quickly in a huge library with thousands of books.

Other places you can currently find metadata include:

• Digital pictures

• Videos

• Soft copy documents including spreadsheets, word processing documents, presentations and databases

• Websites and

• Software applications like Salesforce

For example, with Salesforce the metadata comes very well organized and even includes a tool called the Salesforce Metadata API. This tool allows you to deploy and transfer metadata from one server or machine in one organization to that of another.

2. How is Metadata created?

Creation of Metadata happens in two main ways:

• Manually, where the author has more creative control and decides what pieces of information are necessary to identify and share their work, or

• Automatically where information is gathered and displayed as metadata. The detail in automatic metadata depends on how you configure the automation. The metadata in this case can range from very basic to data that is more complex.

3. What are the types of Metadata?

Various stakeholders have proposed different types of metadata. However, the main standard agreed upon by most stakeholders, is that proposed by the NISO.

This standard allows for the use of a consistent method to group similar types of data together.

The types of metadata according to the NISO standard include:

a. Descriptive Metadata

This group-type of metadata identifies and describes the main body of data you seek to know more about. A good example is the one given earlier where the eBooks author, title, publisher and such can tell us more about a particular eBooks and distinguish it from other eBooks.

b. Structural Metadata

This group of Metadata type has the key purpose of indicating the parts or pieces of how to compile a body of work. It provides information about the internal composition.

In the example of the eBooks, this would include information like the table of contents, index, the page, chapter, and section or part of the book.

c. Administrative Metadata

This type of Metadata provides information about how to manage the resource. It usually includes technical information and information about who owns it, how the resource is to be shared or not and such.

Administrative data often includes different subsets of data types, for example

• Rights management, which includes IP rights and

• Preservation, which includes data needed to preserve and store a body of


About the Author:

Vivek Jobanputra is a technology professional with 7 years’ experience in CRM and cloud computing. He now specializes in Salesforce Release Management and has valuable insights to offer on Salesforce metadata api. Visit his site to read more.