There are two metadata field formats:
- Open user input metadata fields allow the user to enter information freely. There may be limits to the number of characters, but users can enter any combination of letters and numbers. These fields work well for captions, product IDs, and titles.
- Controlled fields force the user to choose from a list of options. This puts the admin in control and keeps metadata consistent across assets and users. When possible, use a controlled field. These fields work well for rights management, internal departments, contributors, and locations.
Varying the metadata formats makes the uploading and tagging process more efficient, so experiment with various types. Don’t overload the assets with too many metadata fields; this is cumbersome to users and difficult to maintain. We recommend keeping the number of metadata fields under 15.
When to use open fields:
Open user input metadata fields allow creative entries.A date field allows a user to enter metadata by selecting a date on a calendar. Uses:
- Expiration date
- Publishing date
- A product ID
- A job number
- Asset title
- Single response fields like “Campaign” or “Project Manager”
- An area for time code notes
- A description field for tagging
- Importing metadata from another source that lacks formatting
- Complicated legal or contractual metadata
When to use controlled fields:
Use controlled fields whenever possible. Controlled fields reduce spelling errors, can be used as filters during search, and make the metadata process easier and more consistent for users. Always list controlled vocabulary values alphabetically.A checkbox is ideal for a short list with multiple answers. Uses:
- A list of brands or internal teams
- A list of asset types (logo, presentation, final photo, b-roll video, etc.)
- A list of clients or vendors
- A list of rights or licensing terms
- A very long list in which there is one answer
- A list of countries in which the asset can be used
- A list of products featured in the asset
- Keywords that can be associated with an asset
Dependent fields:Dependent fields are helpful because they reduce the number of visible fields for users. This results in a more streamlined metadata entry process, since users are only seeing fields that are relevant to a specific asset. A dropdown must be the parent field, in order to have dependent fields. Uses:
- Dependent fields are helpful for rights management. You could have a dropdown list for rights (see below). Depending on which option the user selects, a new child metadata field is revealed so that additional information can be entered. The child field can be any metadata format, unlike the parent field.
- All Rights - Unlimited Reuse
- Limited Rights - 12 Months Reuse
- User sees a new field with the expiration details.
- Restricted Rights - See Notes
- User sees a text field with notes explaining the restriction.
- User sees a text field with metadata on the licensing source and copyright.
- Editorial Use Only
- Dependent fields can also be useful with complex keywording. If an admin has created many controlled keyword lists, this allows the correct field to appear at the appropriate time, ensuring consistent vocabulary while not bogging down the editing process. For example, a grocery store may have controlled fields for each possible food item. The parent dropdown field for an asset may look like the list below, with accompanying dependent fields based on the selection.
- User then sees options like bread, bun, croissant, muffin, etc.
- Meat and Seafood
- User then sees options like beef, chicken, fish, shrimp, turkey, etc.
- User may see another set of dependent fields like fruit or vegetable
- Based on that selection, user sees apple, banana, pineapple, etc.
- Packaged Goods
- User sees subcategories for snack, breakfast, baking, baby food, etc.
- Options appear for alcohol, water, soda, juice, coffee, etc.
Metadata fields are easy to experiment with and adjust, so go ahead and get started.
- What is metadata?
- What are metadata fields?
- What are controlled metadata fields?
- What are dependent metadata fields?
- How do I create metadata fields?
- What are some industry best practices?
- What are some best practices for keywords?
- An intro to the five foundations of digital asset management
Widen University lesson: Metadata and Categories in the Widen Collective