Metadata allows users and applications to define and store custom data associated with files and folders.

String field

Metadata consists of key/value pairs that are assigned to a file or a folder. For example, an important contract may have the key/value pairs of clientNumber: 820183 and clientName: bioMedicalCorp.

Metadata terminology

Working with metadata requires a developer to work with a few distinct types of resources.

  • Templates: A metadata template describes a re-usable set of key/value pairs that can be assigned to a file. For example, an invoiceData template might hold data about an invoice, having a field for the invoice ID as well as the customer ID.

    • Fields: A metadata template field describes a specific piece of data within a metadata template. For example, the ID of an invoice might be represented as an id field on an invoiceData template.
  • Instances: A metadata instance describes the relation between a template and a file or folder, including the values that are assigned for every field. For example, a user might have assigned an invoiceData metadata template to a file and provided 2 values, one for the invoice ID and one for the customer ID.
  • Cascade Policies: A metadata cascade policy describes how metadata instances applied to a folder should be applied to any item within that folder. For example, a user might assign the same invoiceData metadata template to a project folder (including the 2 values), allowing them to automatically apply to all the files and folders within that project folder.
  • Queries: A metadata query provides a way to find files and folders by searching for the metadata attached to them. For example, to find the all files for an invoice with a certain ID, the query would look for all files and folders with the invoiceData template attached to it and a value of id = :id, where :id would be the value of the invoice.

The purpose of metadata

Metadata can be used for many purposes. Enterprises may want to have a better way to organize their digital assets for their marketing teams, or developers may want to provide advanced content functionality such as facilitating workflows or approvals.

For example, a marketingCollateral template may define where and when specific marketing content should be used. Users can see a representation of the template in the Box web application while navigating to a file preview.

To learn more, please visit Box community articles.