Metadata is "data about data" or more precisely, keywords or descriptors about content that can be used to manage and search for content. In Author-it, you can apply metadata to your content by assigning variables that include values for that metadata. Assigning variables as metadata makes it much easier to search for objects that meet only certain criteria.
The key to the power of metadata variables is that the values can be assigned to any object in your Author-it library. The actual placeholder does not need to appear anywhere in the text of the object. This enables you to apply metadata to any object and means the value does not need to be used in the publishable content.
There are several ways to apply metadata in Author-it including:
- Using meaningful naming conventions for your folders.
- Using meaningful naming conventions for your object descriptions.
- Applying specific templates to categories of information (for example, applying a "Procedure" template to procedures).
- ssigning values to Author-it objects using variables.
Let's look at the last option, attaching metadata to objects by using and assigning variables.
We create documentation for five different products, for three different customers, in eighteen countries, and supporting two different platforms.
We can create four variables:
List of Values type variables are ideal, because we have a limited number of values, and our authors must choose from a predefined list. If we had an infinite number of values, we'd use Text variables.
When we want to tag an object as being associated with a particular product, we attach the variable to the object by assigning a particular product name as the value of that variable. When we want to tag an object as being associated with a particular customer, we attach the variable to the object by assigning a particular customer name as the value of that variable.
We can conceivably have several different variables that we could assign to objects, each with a list of values. For example, we can create a variable that assigns a product name to the object, one that assigns the customer name, one that assigns the country, and another that assigns the platform.