Metadata Standard for the Montana GIS Data List

This is the standard for metadata documents submitted for publication on the Montana GIS Data List.  The GIS Data List is a central location for the discovery of Geographic Information System data about Montana.

Metadata is data about data.  In the context of the GIS Data List, a metadata document is an XML file that contains descriptive information about a GIS data set.  The XML file must conform to a standard that allows the Data List software to load it into a searchable index, provide basic descriptive information about the data set, and provide information that allows users to retrieve the data set.

The State Library has a Metadata Writing Guide for ArcGIS version 10 with instructions on how to create a metadata file.  If you follow the instructions, your metadata will comply with this standard.

Part 1: FGDC Compliance
Metadata documents submitted to the Data List must be valid XML documents that conform to the structure set out in the Federal Geographic Data Committee's (FGDC) Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM), version 2.

There is extensive information about the CSDGM at  The CSDGM Workbook is available at

The Data List is a very relaxed version of the CSDGM.  Data List publishers may ignore many of the metadata elements that the CSDGM requires.  For the purposes of the GIS Data List, the CSDGM is a list of elements that are available to fill out.  Some metadata software tools have various levels of enforcement of the element requirements from the CSDGM - Data List publishers may exercise discretion on whether to obey the rules set up by these tools.

Part 2: Required FGDC Elements
The following metadata elements are used by the Data List search functions or displayed by the Data List results page.  Documents without proper entries in these fields will not be accepted by the Data List.  In this and subsequent lists, the metadata element name is followed by the XML path to the element in the metadata file and a description of the required content.

Part 3: FGDC Elements for optional Data List functions
The following elements will be used by the Data List if they are present, but they are not required.

Appendix A
Theme Keywords

Metadata documents for the Montana GIS Data List must have a Theme Keyword section that contain a Theme Keyword Thesaurus whose value is "ISO 19115 Topic Category" and at least one Theme Keyword whose value is taken from the following list, which is presented in the format as they would appear in your xml file.

  <themekt>ISO 19115 Topic Category</themekt>

Here is a sample of what part of a metadata document with two theme keyword sections would look like.  ISO Keywords and other keywords should not be mixed into the same section.

    <themekt>ISO 19115 Topic Category</themekt>
    <themekey>health department</themekey>
    <themekey>service areas</themekey>
    <themekey>health clinics</themekey>

Appendix B
Resource Description and Online Linkage

The Data List uses the Resource Description as one of the search options.  It uses the Resource Description and the Online Linkage to decide how to label the "get data" button on your record's Details page.  Your record may have more than one of each of these elements if it describes more than one resource.

Resource Description may have the following values.

Online Linkage is a link to a web service, a file containing GIS data, or a web site that has more information about the data or how to obtain it.

These are the rules for how the Data List acts on these elements:

Appendix C
Global Unique IDs

Each metadata document will have a global unique ID (GUID) associated with it.  The Data List uses the ID as a part of all links to the document.  If you tell the Data List you are uploading a new document, but it has the same GUID as an existing document, it will tell you that the ID is already in use.  If you tell the Data List you are uploading a new file to replace an existing document, it will reject the new file if the ID does not match the existing document.  If you upload a new document without an ID, the Data List will assign one.  If you upload a replacement document without an ID, it will replace the existing document without question and use the previously assigned or uploaded ID for the replacement document.

The GUID section may be inserted in the metadata with ArcGIS 10 as described in the Metadata Writing Guide, or it may be inserted into the metadata with a plain-text editor immediately before the last line of the file.  The last line of the file should be "</metadata>."  An example of a GUID section and the last line of a metadata file is shown below.


The GUID is the number between the curly braces.  There are many free GUID generators on the Web that you can use to create unique GUIDs for your metadata files, such as and