Import and Export options for Metadata

You may have noticed that the metadata File Info dialog in CS4 applications has changed from CS3.  This is a pretty significant update since the dialog is now Flex based.  We switched to Flex because it offered the UI flexibility and connectivity of flash and support of developers tools such as Flex Builder.  I will go into details of the customizing the UI in a future post.

We also updated the templating capabilities in the dialog to an import and export workflow with guidance.  Below is a screen shot of how to access the template features:

Tip: Create templates from blank files

It is best practice to start with a new blank file and add metadata values to create a template.  This ensure that you are not saving any hidden metadata that may be lurking in the file.  Another option is to use Bridge to create and edit metadata templates.

Export
Exporting a template will save all the XMP data into location that you can choose.  The default is the templates folder where the dialog looks to automatically build its list of templates.

Import
When you select a metadata template or choose Import, it will prompt you to choose from 3 options shown below:

Option 1
This will clear ALL (and I mean ALL) metadata from the file – including any Camera Raw settings – and then replace that information with what is in the template.  If your template has Camera Raw setting in it, it will be applied to the image.  If you don’t want to replace the Camera Raw settings, then you should use the Replace functionality in Bridge – Bridge maintains the CR settings -OR- create a blank template (with no CR settings) and use Option 2.

Tip: This option is very powerful – use it if you want to be sure that all the previous metadata in the file needs to be deleted and replaced – including the Camera Raw settings.

Option 2
This will replace the properties that are in the template. For example, the destination file only has 10 properties, and the template has 2 properites, those 2 properties in the destination file will be updated and the remaining 8 left intact. Identical to option 1 but the destination metadata information is not cleared.  If your template has CR settings, it will be added to the destination file. Again, it is best practice to create templates from a blank file.

Tip: This option will update the metadata in the file – but be sure you know what is in the template.  With a clean template this is good option to stamp metadata on to multiple files.

Option 3
This will append properties from the template but only for those property types that support multiple values.  The most common of these are keywords, and author.  For all other properties, if the destination file already has a value in it, then it will NOT be replaced.  If the property is empty, then the new value will be added.  If the property can hold multiple values, then the old values will remain and the new template values will be appended.

Tip: This option is really best used if you need to update the keywords with a new entry or add copyright status to files where it is not set. Just be sure to use a template that only has those values in it.

Inherent Metadata
Metadata such as Exif and file properties such as size and dimensions will remain in the file and cannot be modified by the template actions.  This is considered inherent metadata and that information is left intact.

Bridge’s Append and Replace
The Append option in Bridge works in the same way as option 2 and the Replace option works the same as option 3, with the exception for both actions that Camera Raw information will not be part of the templating function. 

In general, if you are a photographer Bridge has a great set of features for creating templates and appending and replace metadata information with messing with your Camera Raw settings.  If you need something a more powerful then the File Info dialog can provide you with some options.

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3 Responses to Import and Export options for Metadata

  1. Lindsey Thomas Martin says:

    Anything that encourages and eases the use of metadata is to be applauded but there are serious gaps among the standard categories. ‘Publisher’ and ‘editor’ are two. I add the title and the author’s name to the metadata of a book that I am editing but also want to add my name as editor, name of our publishing company, our contact info. and so on. Then, when I send proofs around as PDF that info. would be sure to travel with the file. Similarly, it would good to have the JDF info. included in the metadata.LTM[Gunar] There are various publishing standards out there that capture more refined information such as publisher and editor. PRISM from IDEAlliance is a good example.Regarding JDF, my quick take is that XMP is description and JDF is perscriptive. However, I have been seeing more desire to add job ticket like info into the XMP.

  2. Good post Gunar. As a suggestion, perhaps the first option should be moved to the bottom, making the second option the first/default. I would think that this might help prevent many inadvertent metadata mishaps…[Gunar] Thanks Trevor, we will continue to improve and simplify this capability.

  3. Rich Wagner says:

    Gunar,With all due respect, I think there are still a lot of problems with File Info that have nothing to do with Flex.I think it is potential Russian roulette for anyone to use File Info to apply traditional metadata using templates right now. I sure wouldn’t let an assistant do it to Raw files (the best place to apply metadata) from Bridge for fear of having real data (the Raw settings) wiped out.The “import options” are anything but clear, it is not possible to preview the changes you are about to make, changes may occur on panels that you’re not viewing, and the wrong “import” choice wipes out Camera Raw settings (and potentially other data) with zero possibility of recovery. When using File Info in Bridge, this can affect hundreds of files at once. It’s like driving a race car at high speed on a mountain road at night, with no lights and no guard rails. I know of no similar dangerous operations in all of Photoshop/CS4 that can destroy so much data in so many files in one move, with no warning and zero possibility to recover.I would even argue that Camera Raw settings are not metadata, as they are essential to accurately render the image, so this is really damaging the image data proper (that happens to be stored in an XMP wrapper). It wouldn’t be as bad if it was just “metadata” like copyright, etc. that was wiped out. But watching hours of meticulous image corrections on hundreds of files vaporize with no possibility to recover is a sickening feeling.You state as a “tip” to “Create templates from blank files”It is best practice to start with a new blank file and add metadata values to create a template. This ensure that you are not saving any hidden metadata that may be lurking in the file. Another option is to use Bridge to create and edit metadata templates.”So if one is using File Info in Bridge to work with metadata, how does one “start with a blank file?” It’s not a choice in File Info – you can’t start with an “empty” template, and you can’t “see” what data gets soaked up into a new template unless you use a text editor.As it stands, when attempting to “apply” metadata templates (File Info templates?) the user stares at the three “import” choices going “door number 1, door number 2, or door number 3…?” Click on door number 1 and you’ve potentially bombed your files (or someone else’s files). I think the user interface here needs to be re-written in plain English, and some security options added.The current descriptions of the options, using the terminology of XMP properties, are an example of the profound lack of clarity in the newly re-built File Info. While these options themselves are certainly useful, the descriptions are essentially undecipherable to most users. The third option in particular, “Keep original metadata, but append matching properties from template” seems nonsensical. If “properties” means “fields” and the properties “match,” why append them? On the other hand, if “properties” means the “contents of fields” and they match, why append them? Whew! Ask 10 photographers what the three options do, and you’ll get 10 blank stares… Ask 10 college students, and I’ll bet all 10 respond, “Let’s just try it and see – you can always Undo…” Not.Explaining how to dance through a minefield is not nearly as satisfactory as cleaning up the minefield and removing the mines. And this is a very big minefield. I’m not the only one who has already sustained significant accidental data loss. The potential is there for this to happen to anyone who uses File Info and templates to apply metadata to Camera Raw files. While your blog helps those who read your blog, not everyone who uses Photoshop reads your blog.Other non-Adobe applications treat Camera Raw settings as “protected data” rather than user-editable metadata, the same way that File Info does with EXIF data. I really think the user should have to make an affirmative choice to change Camera Raw settings when editing metadata, as the current behavior is completely unexpected – you cannot even edit Camera Raw settings on the Camera Raw panel – and the expectation from the user’s perspective is that the Camera Raw settings are protected and cannot be changed when editing metadata.I know a lot of work has gone into the new File Info, but like most software projects, I think it is a work in progress. I do hope that we’ll see some significant changes here soon.Best,–Rich