Metadata is data about the data. There is no consistent way to present
the metadata. Many data sets use an XML file, but there is no single,
way to view the resulting files, and other files will have an HTML or TXT file,
or even multiple files. Microsoft Word or the browser might do a
reasonable job, but often you will have to use the search function to find what
you want, such as "datum" or "projection". The file
name will often include the word "meta".
XML uses tags like HTML, but the tags are specficic to the kind of data, like
<datum>WGS84</datum>. You want smart formating to see
the various tages.
- NotePad++ is a good program to view metadata,
but may require configuring a plugin.
- The current browsers also do well.
Key information that you might find in the metadata:
- Collection date and time
- Sun position for remote sensing data, which can help with interpreting
- Type of data--USGS often downloads files with a cryptic number for the
file name, and the only way to be sure which data set you have is to look at
- Definition of the fields in a database.
- Meaning of the codings used in a database.
- Web page where you can download the file.
- Contact information for questions about the data.
- The metadata can include a Shapefile with the locations of the data sets
used to create the data; an example would be 3DEP/NED from USGS.
Last revision 5/27/2020