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Documentation & User Guides | FotoWare

Types of metadata the FotoWare DAM system can use

Below is an overview of the different types of metadata a FotoWare system can utilize to help users catalog and retrieve the assets stored in it.

File system metadata

When you store a file somewhere, be it a text document, a spreadsheet or any other type of file, the file system automatically adds quite a lot of information about the file:

  • Its name
  • Its extension (tells you which type of file it is)
  • The name of the folder it is stored in, even the entire path if the hierarchy is several levels deep
  • The time and date of the file's creation
  • The time and date when the file was last accessed
  • The time and date when the file was last modified, i.e. edited and resaved. This is not the same as the date the file was initially created.

All the file information listed above is a type of metadata. It can be used to locate a file by browsing the file system (typically in Windows Explorer or the Mac Finder) or to isolate a single file or a group of files using a search.

In a FotoWare system, all this information is preserved and made searchable. However, we also add some additional types of metadata to help users more easily find the files that are stored in the system. It's only when files are easily retrievable and reusable that they become true assets to an organization.

XMP metadata

For some file types, such as pictures, the file system information above will often not suffice when users try to locate a certain file. That's where XMP becomes invaluable.

XMP is a metadata standard that can be extended endlessly. Any number of fields can be created to accommodate the specific field requirements of any business or industry, allowing users to add descriptive metadata to all types of files and turning them into assets by putting them into context. That way, meaningful information can be added to e.g. a picture:

  • Location
  • Title
  • Who's portrayed in the picture
  • Photographer's name
  • and so on, and so on

XMP can be embedded in certain file types, which means that the XMP data is stored inside the actual file that it travels with. This is true with many image file formats. Formats that don't support embedded XMP are handled transparently - the FotoWare DAM system adds a "sidecar" file with the same name as the "master" file but with the extension .xmp, where all the metadata is stored. That way, absolutely any type of file can be properly described and made searchable and reusable - in short, it becomes an asset.

Note

Two identically named files that both require a sidecar cannot be stored in the same folder. For example, assuming you're storing document.docx and document.pptx in the same folder, they both require a sidecar for storing metadata - this will be called document.xmp. When both files are stored in the same folder, the system has no way of knowing which "master" file the sidecar belongs to. Hence, identically named files that require a sidecar cannot co-exist in the same folder. This is only true when sidecar creation is required to store xmp metadata and can be remedied by storing the files in separate folders.

IPTC metadata

IPTC, sometimes referred to as Photoshop File Info, was an early standard for embedded metadata. The IPTC standard has long since been migrated to XMP, (Photoshop started using XMP in version 7) and when a FotoWare system comes across files that have embedded IPTC metadata, it will automatically map legacy IPTC metadata to the corresponding new fields within the XMP standard as soon as a metadata operation is performed on the asset. (Learn more!) Subsequent updates to the metadata will then be stored in the XMP data block and in the IPTC block for backwards compatibility. (Naturally, custom XMP fields that fall outside the scope of the IPTC standard cannot be co-written to IPTC.)

EXIF metadata

EXIF is metadata that is added to photos taken by a digital camera and scanned documents. It contains information such as document proportions, camera mode, camera date, color space, flash, exposure and aperture settings, copyright and other information pertaining to the recording. In a FotoWare system, most EXIF fields are handled as read-only fields. Some of the EXIF fields are mapped to XMP, which allows them to be updated. For example, the EXIF Orientation tag is mapped to XMP to allow updating the information about a photo's rotation without having to rewrite the entire file.

Additional details on how FotoWare handles EXIF fields can be found in this separate topic.

Content indexing

Content indexing is one of the types of metadata extraction that a FotoWare system does. When users store documents, presentations, spreadsheets or PDF documents in the system, we extract all the content in the files to make it searchable. (This option can be turned off.)

That way, users can search for specific wording in a business letter they made earlier to find it, or they can search for a headline used in a PowerPoint slide and quickly retrieve the document they were looking for.