Deep Dive: Metadata

Learn about what metadata is, how it's used, and how to edit object metadata on Filebase.

What is Metadata?

Metadata by definition refers to data about data. Metadata provides additional information about existing data to provide enrichment and additional attributes that make data easier to manage, use, and find.

Think of a traditional paper letter sent via the postal service to understand how metadata works. The letter contains information and the envelope the letter is in provides additional information, such as the sender’s name and address and the recipient’s name and address. In this example, the transmitted data is the letter, and the metadata is the information on the envelope that describes where the data has come from and where it's headed.

This scenario is applicable to all forms of data and its associated metadata. A common example in the Web3 space is NFT metadata. An NFT, or non-fungible token, represents a unique contract address that’s been deployed on a blockchain network. NFT metadata provides additional information that is tied to that contract address, such as a JPG image, the NFT collection name, and the different traits or attributes associated with the NFT.

Types of Metadata

There are three types of metadata, each with its own purpose and variety of data it aims to specify.

  • Administrative Metadata: provides information about the origin of the data, the data’s access type, and its access rights.

  • Descriptive Metadata: provides information about who or what created the data, what the data is related to or about, and what is included in the data.

  • Structural Metadata: provides information about how the data is organized and the relationships or structure that exists within the data.

Metadata Examples

Along with the physical example provided earlier using the letter and the envelope, and the example of NFT metadata, there are endless other examples of metadata that are used in most routine activities. Some of these are:

  • Emails: Metadata is sent in the headers of Email communications that include the size of the email, the subject, and the timestamp the email was sent.

  • File Storage: When you store a file, metadata such as when the file was last updated or last accessed, and who the last user to make those changes was, is stored as metadata.

  • Browser Data: Your web browser stores information for data recently searched for on websites, such as the last video you searched for on Netflix.

  • Ebooks: Metadata such as page numbers, document resources, or other information can be stored as metadata in an eBook or PDF.

Why is Metadata Important?

Since metadata enriches and describes data, it provides ways for the data to be organized, sorted, and searched. Metadata allows for data to be easily searched for and found, and allows for data to be easily related to other data through metadata tags, increasing the ability for data to be organized and discovered. Through metadata, data can be identified through various resources, collected and sorted by topic or attribute, traced through other data sources, and parsed for specific purposes.

How to Set Custom Metadata for Objects Stored on Filebase

Once an object has been uploaded to a Filebase bucket, you can edit the object’s metadata. For details on uploading objects, see our tutorial here.

Start by clicking on the ‘Buckets’ option from the menu to open the Buckets dashboard.

Then, click on the bucket name containing the object you want to view. After clicking on the bucket name, you will see all objects that are currently in the bucket. Click on the object name you want to view.

This will open the object’s overview. From this overview, you can edit the metadata of the file by selecting the ‘Manage Metadata’ option on the right side of the webpage.

This will bring up a Metadata editing page where you can change the content-type and cache-control metadata options for the object, as well as add any additional metadata fields to the object.

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