Information technology -- Concepts and usage of metadata

This document describes the basic concept of metadata, and its relationship to both data and metamodels.

Technologies de l'information -- Concepts et utilisation des métadonnées

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Status
Published
Publication Date
25-Jul-2019
Current Stage
6060 - International Standard published
Start Date
22-Jun-2019
Completion Date
26-Jul-2019
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ISO/IEC TR 19583-1:2019 - Information technology -- Concepts and usage of metadata
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TECHNICAL ISO/IEC TR
REPORT 19583-1
First edition
2019-07
Information technology — Concepts
and usage of metadata —
Part 1:
Metadata concepts
Technologies de l'information — Concepts et utilisation des
métadonnées —
Partie 1: Concepts liés aux métadonnées
Reference number
ISO/IEC TR 19583-1:2019(E)
ISO/IEC 2019
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ISO/IEC TR 19583-1:2019(E)
COPYRIGHT PROTECTED DOCUMENT
© ISO/IEC 2019

All rights reserved. Unless otherwise specified, or required in the context of its implementation, no part of this publication may

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ii © ISO/IEC 2019 – All rights reserved
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ISO/IEC TR 19583-1:2019(E)
Contents Page

Foreword ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................iv

Introduction ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................v

1 Scope ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 1

2 Normative references ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 1

3 Terms and definitions ..................................................................................................................................................................................... 1

4 Introduction to metadata ............................................................................................................................................................................ 1

5 The use of structural metadata in data management .................................................................................................... 2

6 The relationship between data, metadata and metamodels .................................................................................. 3

Annex A (informative) Descriptive metadata .............................................................................................................................................. 5

Annex B (informative) Administrative metadata .................................................................................................................................... 7

Bibliography ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 9

© ISO/IEC 2019 – All rights reserved iii
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ISO/IEC TR 19583-1:2019(E)
Foreword

ISO (the International Organization for Standardization) and IEC (the International Electrotechnical

Commission) form the specialized system for worldwide standardization. National bodies that

are members of ISO or IEC participate in the development of International Standards through

technical committees established by the respective organization to deal with particular fields of

technical activity. ISO and IEC technical committees collaborate in fields of mutual interest. Other

international organizations, governmental and non-governmental, in liaison with ISO and IEC, also

take part in the work.

The procedures used to develop this document and those intended for its further maintenance are

described in the ISO/IEC Directives, Part 1. In particular, the different approval criteria needed for

the different types of document should be noted. This document was drafted in accordance with the

editorial rules of the ISO/IEC Directives, Part 2 (see www .iso .org/directives).

Attention is drawn to the possibility that some of the elements of this document may be the subject

of patent rights. ISO and IEC shall not be held responsible for identifying any or all such patent

rights. Details of any patent rights identified during the development of the document will be in the

Introduction and/or on the ISO list of patent declarations received (see www .iso .org/patents) or the IEC

list of patent declarations received (see http: //patents .iec .ch).

Any trade name used in this document is information given for the convenience of users and does not

constitute an endorsement.

For an explanation of the voluntary nature of standards, the meaning of ISO specific terms and

expressions related to conformity assessment, as well as information about ISO's adherence to the

World Trade Organization (WTO) principles in the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) see www .iso

.org/iso/foreword .html.

This document was prepared by Joint Technical Committee ISO/IEC JTC 1, Information technology,

Subcommittee SC 32, Data management and interchange.
A list of all parts in the ISO/IEC 19583 series can be found on the ISO website.

Any feedback or questions on this document should be directed to the user’s national standards body. A

complete listing of these bodies can be found at www .iso .org/members .html.
iv © ISO/IEC 2019 – All rights reserved
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ISO/IEC TR 19583-1:2019(E)
Introduction

This document describes the concept of metadata, particularly in respect of its use within the data

management speciality in information technology.
[2] [4]

The ISO/IEC 11179 and ISO/IEC 19763 series describe the structure for registering information

about metadata that is used and/or held elsewhere.

The ISO/IEC 11179 series defines metadata as “data that defines and describes other data”. There are,

however, many other definitions of metadata that are used more generally, for example, the US National

Information Standards Organization (NISO) defines metadata as "structured information which

describes, explains, locates, or otherwise makes it easier to retrieve, use, or manage an information

resource”.

Metadata is, therefore, just data, but data which has the specific purpose of defining or describing other

data. Metadata is normally used within a particular context, which is the set of circumstances, purposes

or perspectives within which any particular item of data is used as metadata. Metadata can, therefore,

be considered to be data about data within some context.

The definitions above, by themselves, do not say how metadata arises, where it comes from, how it is

used, or how it is managed (although the ISO/IEC 11179 series describes the facilities for registering

and managing structured metadata). For those reasons, this document has been developed to provide a

broader view of metadata and the associated concept of the metamodel.

These concepts of metadata and metamodels are important when trying to understand exactly

what is being registered within the registries whose structure is specified in the ISO/IEC 11179 and

ISO/IEC 19763 series.
© ISO/IEC 2019 – All rights reserved v
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TECHNICAL REPORT ISO/IEC TR 19583-1:2019(E)
Information technology — Concepts and usage of
metadata —
Part 1:
Metadata concepts
1 Scope

This document describes the basic concept of metadata, and its relationship to both data and

metamodels.
2 Normative references
There are no normative references in this document.
3 Terms and definitions

ISO and IEC maintain terminological databases for use in standardization at the following addresses:

— ISO Online browsing platform: available at https: //www .iso .org/obp
— IEC Electropedia: available at http: //www .electropedia .org/
4 Introduction to metadata

Metadata is defined as “data that defines and describes other data”. This is a very broad definition of

metadata leaving room for confusion. It is often said that one person’s metadata is another person’s

data. Whether any piece of data is seen as metadata or just data depends on the context. These contexts

can be classified into three distinct groups:

— structural metadata: the metadata used by those responsible for the management of data in

information systems to describe the ‘containers’ of data, for example, the tables and columns in a

database managed using the SQL database language;

— descriptive metadata: the metadata used for the discovery and identification of content, such as

by librarians, and the metadata that helps to further describe other data, such as metadata that a

scientist has observed about continuous or systematically produced data;

— administrative metadata: the metadata associated with data values, such as metadata describing

when and who created the data, who can edit and manage the data, and any other information about

the data that is deemed useful, including metadata that describes multimedia data.

The focus of this document is the first of these groups: the structural metadata used within data

management. The use of descriptive metadata is explained in Annex A and the use of administrative

metadata is explained in Annex B.

For any data to be useful or shareable the meaning of the data (the semantics), the data type and format

of the data (the syntax) and the relationship of the data to other data (the structure) must be known. All

of this information about data is metadata.

Metadata is independent of the systems that produce the data. Metadata is usually defined before

systems are built, either as part of the systems development of an individual system or as part of an

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ISO/IEC TR 19583-1:2019(E)

enterprise-wide data management initiative. However, metadata can be recorded after the data has

been created in less formal systems as part of a data documentation initiative. The only significant

difference between single-system metadata and enterprise-wide metadata is the scope of the metadata,

although there might be differences around the degree of formality applied to its creation.

5 The use of structural metadata in data management

The traditional data management view of metadata is that it describes the types of data stored in a

database and also describes how that data is to be managed. Examples of such metadata are:

— table and column definitions for a database schema managed by an SQL database management system;

— definitions of any constraints used for validating the data to be placed in the database;

— rules for accessing the data in the database;
— rules for maintaining the quality of the data in the database;
— predicted volumes for the data in the database.

A more comprehensive view of metadata within the data management community is that metadata

[6]

is defined very early in the systems development lifecycle . Conceptual data models and the data

definitions derived from them can, therefore, be considered as metadata. The relationships shown on a

conceptual data model can also be considered as metadata.

At the enterprise level, other information about data can be viewed as metadata. Details of the

ownership and source of data definitions can be viewed as metadata, as can any other information

that helps business users and system developers with understanding what data is recorded in the

enterprise’s databases, and where it is recorded.

Metadata may be held on paper or electronically, or both. In addition to the diagrams of the data models

for the system, paper-based metadata can include glossaries of business terms that support the use of

the data, descriptions of the information systems owned by the enterprise, and descriptions of the data

held by each system. Metadata that is held electronically may be stored in the information technology

systems, for example, in the system tables, where this metadata supports the creation and management

of the data held in the individual systems. Metadata may also be held electronically within a data

warehouse to describe the schemas of the operational systems that feed the data warehouse to assist

with the transformation and loading of that data into the data warehouse.

Metadata may also be held electronically in stand-alone systems to support interoperability by

enabling the common understanding of data that is shared between separate systems. These stand-

alone systems are often called data dictionaries, repositories or registries. Such stand-alone systems

will each have its own database. The structure of that database will be represented in a series of data

models that together describe what information about the metadata is to be held and how it is to be

held. The relationships between the information may also be described in the models.

These data models can be produced at three levels:

— The conceptual model, or computation independent model, is a model that specifies what

information is to be held by the system (i.e., the data dictionary, repository or registry). Note that

with a conceptual model there is no assumption that the final system will be using any information

technology; its implementation could be paper-based.

— The logical model, or platform independent model, is the model that begins to consider how the

information is to be held in an information technology-based system. For example, a logical model

can be developed on the assumption that the system will have a database managed using the SQL

database language.

— The physical model, or platform specific model, is the model that specifies how the information

is to be held in the particular implementation selected for the system. For example, at this level

consideration should be given to such details as the naming and allocation of tables to tablespaces.

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ISO/IEC TR 19583-1:2019(E)

Each of these models (conceptual, logical and physical) for a data dictionary, repository or registry is

known as a metamodel – a model of a model.

Metamodels need not only be used to describe the requirements to hold information about metadata.

It is often useful for repositories and registries to hold information about other resources that are

important to an enterprise, such as the processes supported by
...

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