Metadata and Searching

In NetX, metadata fields are called attributes — their values store information, drive search, and set your DAM apart from a simple file storage system. 

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Learn about the different types of metadata used in NetX and how search functions rely on your metadata strategy. Understand the importance of controlled vocabulary and how to make cataloging easier.

5 things to know about NetX attributes

Custom attributes are search keywords unique to your organization.
In addition to your folder structure, custom metadata is a way to identify and classify your assets. You choose the attribute field names and values that will store information, power search, control user access to assets, and drive workflows. NetX has seven types of custom attribute fields: text, text area, pulldown, multi-select, tag, number, and date.
System attributes are inherent to your assets.
System attributes are available for searching without the need to manually catalog the information to your assets. System attributes include: File Name, File Size, File Type, File Format Family, File Aspects (Width, Height, Duration), Dates (Creation, Imported, Modified, Expiration), and the Full Folder Path.
Embedded metadata is data that exists in the physical asset files.
EXIF, XMP, IPTC, and Dublin Core are a few examples of embedded metadata schemas. Embedded metadata is always displayed in NetX, but most fields are not automatically available for search. If embedded metadata is explicitly mapped to custom attribute fields in NetX, it will then be available for search. Metadata from NetX attribute fields can also be written into embedded metadata schemas (like IPTC or XMP) at the time of download. This is useful for important information that you want to travel with the file.
Attribute values can be searched for in different ways.
The basic keyword search draws on all metadata indexed by the search engine and includes system attributes, custom attributes, and even document content if enabled. Advanced search allows you to search specific attribute fields for specific values or Any Value or No Value. You can also combine or exclude additional criteria like dates or folder locations. Search facets provide a way for users to quickly filter search results based on attribute values.
Viewing and editing attributes can be governed by user group or user level.
NetX administrators can limit which attribute fields are viewable or editable by certain user groups or levels. This allows granular control over sensitive information and essential attribute values that drive workflows or control user access.

Best practices

Consider different metadata strategies.
Metadata is used in different ways to meet different needs: descriptive attributes feed the search index to help users find what they are looking for; structural attributes are used in place of folders to classify and organize assets; technical attributes include specific details or unique identifiers (like a SKU or UPC) needed by external systems; administrative attributes trigger workflows, define access to assets, indicate rights or approvals status, and more.

Strike a balance.
Search will be ineffective if there isn’t enough metadata. If there is too much, the system becomes unmanageable and usability suffers. Typically, 10-20 custom attribute fields are sufficient.

Good metadata = good search results.
Think about your users and what they want to search for. Incorporate specific words, phrases or acronyms that are widely used throughout your organization and avoid unnecessary descriptors. Be cautious with attribute values that are too vague, such as “Yes” and “No”. 

Control your vocabulary.
Improve search results with attribute fields that support a controlled vocabulary (pulldown, multi-select, or tag) instead of free text fields. Controlled vocabularies help avoid variations and misspellings in your keywords and make cataloging easier. The Vocabularies feature makes it easy to change attribute values without having to re-catalog assets.

Minimize cataloging efforts.
To make cataloging more efficient, think about ways to leverage automatic indexing of filenames, folder names, and inherent metadata. Consider automated tagging features in NetX like Metadata Lookups, Attribute Profiles, and Smart Labels. Limit the number of mandatory attributes to make it easy for users to import. 

Ready, set!
Attribute sets allow users to view a subset of attributes in various contexts in the UI. Sets are convenient for grouping together related attribute fields or refining attributes when cataloging assets. For example, you might have one attribute set for rights management-related attribute fields, another set for photography cataloging, yet another one for documents, etc. The same attribute field can be added to multiple different sets. NetX administrators can create attribute sets that are available for everyone's use and individual users can also create and share custom sets of their own. 

How-to articles

Configuring attributes Editing attribute values Searching

Tips and tricks

Avoid certain attribute field names. Names with special characters or names containing words that are within other attribute field names (e.g. Date, Event Date) can cause complications. Reserved Attribute Names cannot be used at all for custom attributes.  

Attribute types can't be changed. i.e. a pulldown can’t be changed to a multi-select. If you have to change an attribute type, you'll need to create a new attribute field and re-tag all values that had previously been applied.

Tag (vocabulary) vs. Multi-select. The tag (vocabulary) attribute type has an advantage over multi-select with the option that allows non-admin users to add new values at the time of uploading or editing assets. This means an Admin is not required to edit the vocabulary first before users can catalog using new values. 

Avoid using these problematic characters in attribute values:
         , (comma)    | (pipe)    \n (line feed)    \r (carriage return)

Each search facet will display up to 25 values for any particular set of assets, but this can be changed via a system property.  The technical maximum is 1000 values, but the best practice is no more than 50. Quickly narrow down the list of available values by typing in the filter box.

Use attribute sets to change info displayed under the gallery thumbnails. By default, the File is displayed underneath each thumbnail in the gallery. This can be changed to any system or custom attribute field by dragging the desired field to the first position of an attribute set.

To restrict an attribute to Administrators only, enable attribute permissions on the attribute but do not assign any groups, or set the minimum user level to Administrator.


  • Meet with your Core Team and develop a set of custom attribute fields and values.
  • Review your folder structure. This may help identify attributes that are needed or adjustment of your folder tree.
  • Document your proposed attributes fields, values, and sets in the Attributes Onboarding Worksheet.
  • Be prepared to discuss with your Onboarding Specialist.

Up next...

Learn about User Access.

Discuss your data migration plan with your Onboarding Specialist and read about File and Data Ingest.

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