In NetX, metadata fields are called attributes. Attribute values drive search capabilities and set your NetX DAM apart from a simple file storage system. 

In this article

Learn about the different types of metadata used in NetX and how search functions rely on certain metadata strategies. Understand the importance of controlled vocabulary and how it makes cataloging easier.

(question) How do your users find what they're looking for? Are users more likely to browse folders or type in a keyword?
(question) What words, phrases or acronyms are widely used in your organization? 
(question) Does your organization use a taxonomy elsewhere (a website for example) and how can this align with your DAM taxonomy?
(question) How can metadata drive your workflows (i.e. do assets transition from one status to another)?

If you're not sure how to get started on your DAM taxonomy, ask your Onboarding Specialist about our taxonomy development exercise.

5 things to know about NetX attributes

Custom attributes are search keywords unique to your organization. 
Custom metadata is a way to classify your assets in addition to your folders, and good classification leads to good search results. It's up to you to choose the attribute field names, values and types that will store information, power search and drive workflows. 

System attributes are inherent to your assets.
System attributes, and some embedded metadata, are available to search upon 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 a single value (or any value, or even no value), and 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.

Attribute sets allow users to view a subset of attributes in various contexts in the UI.
NetX administrators can create attribute sets that are available for everyone's use. Sets are convenient for grouping together related attribute fields or to assist in 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. Individual users can also create and share custom sets of their own. 

Best practices

Consider different metadata strategies.
Metadata can be used in several different ways to suit your requirements: descriptive attributes describe assets and help users find what they are looking for; structural attributes can be used in place of folders for classification of assets; technical attributes might include specific technical details or unique identifiers (like a SKU or UPC) needed by external systems; administrative attributes can drive workflows by defining access controls or the status of assets.

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.

Search is only as good as your metadata.
Think about your users and what they will be searching for. Consider specific words, phrases or acronyms that are widely used throughout your organization or industry. Be cautious with attribute values that are too vague, such as “Yes” and “No”. Discover the different ways of Searching in NetX to help inform your metadata strategy.

Control your vocabulary.
Improve search results by using custom attribute types 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 using automated tagging features like metadata lookups, attribute profiles, and smart labels. Limit the number of mandatory attributes to make it easy for users to import. Consider allowing users to create values in Tag attribute fields to build a "folksonomy" list of values.


  • 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, sets and profiles in the Attributes Onboarding Worksheet.
  • Be prepared to discuss with your Onboarding Specialist.

How-to articles

Learn about cataloging methods for both your initial and future imports:

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.

Allow users to create new values. Tag attributes have a unique checkbox that allows users to dynamically add values to an existing vocabulary at the time of editing attributes. If this box is unchecked, users will be limited to only those values contained in the vocabulary source.

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

Search facets display up to 25 values for any particular set of assets, but this can be changed via a system property.  The technical maximum is 99, but the best practice is no more than 50.

If you're migrating metadata via spreadsheet import, make sure the filenames in the data file match the actual asset filenames. You may need to rename files or edit your data file prior to import.

Up next...

Learn about User Access.


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