We have recently been trialling GeoNetwork for managing our data internally. GeoNetwork is a web enabled open source metadata catalogue that allows metadata to be created, searched, imported and exported based on customisable XML templates. GeoNetwork also features integration with GeoServer, which allows for metadata to be searched spatially as well as via the usual text searches.
Our original requirements were for an open source spatial database that could integrate with all the other GIS software we use; however there is currently nothing available that could meet those needs. PostGIS comes close, but does not offer read/write access from ESRI ArcGIS (that’s more to do with ESRI than PostGIS, but that is another story).
Once we stripped down what we actually wanted to be able to do we came up with something much simpler; we want to be able to find what data we have, where it is and what it contains. From there, we could see that while a spatial database would be nice, a metadata catalogue would allow us to do everything that we needed. Just goes to show, sometimes what you want and what you need aren’t always the same thing.
Installing and using GeoNetwork itself is very easy, the only real issue we had was in customising the software to fit the metadata standards we wanted to use. It is actually surprisingly difficult to find a written standard for either the WALIS or ANZLIC metadata standards and GeoNetwork itself is little bit painful to configure. We did get there in the end and are currently in the process of populating the database with metadata. More to come once we have some experience with the system in production.
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