QUESTION: What is metadata?
ANSWER: Metadata is
"data about data." Most often, the term "metadata" is
used to refer to
data that helps to describe the content or characteristics of a file.
For example, the metadata for a PDF file might include such things as
The metadata for a JPEG file includes such things as:
- Creation Date
- Searchable keywords
- Author and copyright information, status or notices
- Special caption or headlines
- Project name and description
- File's project version number or final version notice
- Owner URL, final posting URL or URL to a database containing more information relevant to a project.
- Page Size
This information is what enables software that displays or prints
JPEG images to do those tasks properly.
- Number of bits per sample
- Number of lines in the image
- Number of samples in each line in the image
Sometimes a document's metadata is embedded in the document file itself,
whereas in other situations a document's metadata could be in a separate
Standards for metadata
There is a movement toward adoption of a standard way of representing metadata and a
standard way of embedding metadata into files. Several standards are emerging
in the printing, publishing, and graphic-arts industries.
One such standard is referred to as XMP, which stands for eXtensible Metadata Platform.
Adobe Systems Incorporated developed the XMP specification. Quite a few Adobe applications
support XMP, including Adobe Acrobat, Adobe FrameMaker, Adobe GoLive,
Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Document Server.
Metadata that is not organized in a standard format for which
documentation is widely available is known as "opaque metadata."
Making use of metadata
Various software tools and systems are available
that facilitate the task of utilizing metadata in various kinds of
document files. Such software tools facilitate the tasks of
creating, managing, and utilizing content by:
Software tools and systems that can make good use of XMP metadata are
referred to as "XMP-enabled" software tools and systems.
- allowing for the creation of "smart assets" that
retain context when passed across multiple file
formats, software applications, devices, and databases
- enabling flexible search and retrieval across diverse file formats and databases
- facilitating workflow automation (content-management systems can be customized to
automate tasks with the help of the metadata schema)
- extending the content life cycle (files can be found and repurposed across multiple
versions and renditions.
Powerful publishing-workflow-automation systems: Switch
The Switch software is an
example of a software tool that allows you to make good use of metadata.
Switch makes it easy to set up an automated workflow
that can (in addition to many other things) make processing decisions based
on metadata. For example, Switch can utilize
a document's page-size metadata to decide automatically which printer to
use for printing that document.
To get more information about Switch, click