My company would like to perform a complete overhaul of their metadata. They would like to use the ISO standard.

How can we go about this?

I have been researching and have done a lot of reading about metadata but I need to form a plan of action.

  • 2
    Question seems a bit broad to be answerable in the GIS.SE format. What is/are the current metadata format(s)? How much data are we talking about? Are you trying to automate as much of this as possible, or is there someone dedicated to upgrading the info manually/with available tools? What is the environment of the data (ie, networked, constantly accessed, served over web, requiring near full up time)? There was an article in the latest ArcUser (warning, direct pdf link) starting on page 56 you might find helpful.
    – Chris W
    Mar 6, 2015 at 2:38
  • Down the line I would be changing larger amounts of data. I was thinking I would develop a template to use for that. I expect to make a template and have some manual work after using the template. That link will be helpful for that. Our data is in FGDC (i think) and I would like to change it to ISO 19139. I wanted to figure out the process of how to make the transition with one dataset first. Mar 11, 2015 at 15:20
  • So have you looked at the Metadata toolset, and in particular Export Metadata (Conversion)?
    – Chris W
    Mar 11, 2015 at 19:15
  • I have. I used the Esri Metadata Translator (Conversion) to change the metadata to ISO 19139. I had to do some trial and error to figure out which one would work. I also validated the data using the XML Schema Validation (Conversion) tool. I just wanted some direction or to at least know I was moving in the right direction. Mar 12, 2015 at 11:56
  • To be compliant to ISO 19115 metadata is a relatively trivial task; there are only 7 Mandatory Fields. Take a look at the OneGeology cookbook:2.7 Core TC211/ISO:19115:2003 Metadata. Are you just interested in ISO-19115 compliance, or are you after some profile of it like that defined for INSPIRE?
    – nmtoken
    Mar 17, 2015 at 9:07

2 Answers 2


ISO 19139 is an XML encoding of ISO 19115 with additions from ISO 19119 to cover metadata for services that provide geospatial data. Whilst it is true that ISO 19115 (and thus also ISO 19139) allows a party to define a very comprehensive set of metadata, it is also true that these ISO standards allow you to define a very minimal set of metadata, based on the core metadata required by the ISO 19115 standard.

To put that another way, to be conformant to ISO 19115/ISO 19139 requires a minimal set of metadata, that is:

Mandatory (M): The metadata entity or metadata element shall be documented

Conditional (C): The metadata entity or metadata element shall be documented if another entity or element has been documented, or if a condition is or isn’t met elsewhere.

Dataset title (M)

A unique title (within your metadata records) for your data.

Dataset reference date (M)

Geographic location of the dataset (by four coordinates or by geographic identifier) (C)

If the metadata applies to a data set which is spatially referenced (such as a WMS) this is required.

Dataset language (M)

Language(s) used within the dataset. Required even if the resource does not include any textual information; defaults to the Metadata language.

Dataset character set (C)

Full name of the character encoding used for the data set. You must supply this character set if you are not using the ISO/IEC 10646-1 character set and if your character set is not defined by the document encoding.

Dataset topic category (M)

Main theme(s) of the data set described using the most appropriate term defined in the standard; such as: ‘geoscientificInformation’, ‘economy’ , or ‘imageryBaseMapsEarthCover

Metadata language (C)

Language used to document the metadata. You must supply the metadata language if it is not defined by the document encoding.

Abstract defining the dataset (M)

Brief narrative summary of the content of the resource.

Metadata character set (C)

Full name of the character encoding used for the metadata set. You must supply this character set in your metadata if you are not using the ISO/IEC 10646-1 character set AND if your character set is not defined by the document encoding. Note as most XML and HTML pages provide a character set as part of their own metadata, it is likely that you will not need to explicitly state this for your own layer metadata

Metadata point of contact (M)

Party responsible for the metadata information

Metadata date stamp (M)

So really what you probably need to do is to go through which metadata you need to supply for you own benefit (the benefit of your organization) and map it to the metadata defined by ISO 19115 and then to the relevant elements and attributes of ISO 19139. You may wish to put extra constraints on the content of an ISO 19139 instance document such that it is conformant to your standard, for example to restrict possible terms to a subset of terms allowed by the standard, and in such cases you can define those rules using Schematron


We use the ANZLIC Metadata guide lines and the associated Meta Lite Tool

Which Meet both the ISO and Australian standard - the tool is quite simple to use for updating metadata on multiple datasets and maybe worth looking at.

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