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Using Document Types and Metadata Sets

If you’re concerned only with a file’s content and are happy with its basic built-in metadata, then add the file to Documents and Media as a Basic Document. What do you do, however, if you want to ascribe more characteristics to a file? For example, you might have documents to which you want users to apply copyrights and license information. Or you might want to add searchable attributes to documents. Is there a way to do these things in Documents and Media? Yes! Liferay Portal enables you to define metadata for describing files. Liferay provides tools to create and aggregate metadata into Metadata Sets that you can apply to Document Library files. You leverage the Metadata Sets through Document Types. These Document Types wrap the Documents and Media files so users can completely describe them.

Documents and Media uses a Document Type to classify every Document Library file. A Document Type wraps each file with a type name and metadata. The metadata fields let authors describe the document. As a Documents and Media administrator you create metadata fields, add them to Metadata Sets, and apply the sets to various Document Types.

Typically you’ll want to specify document metadata fields in a Metadata Set and then apply it to a Document Type. So let’s start creating a metadata set.

Creating Metadata Sets

Metadata Sets aggregate metadata fields so you can apply them to Document Types. Liferay provides Metadata fields to capture textual, boolean, date, numerical, location, and descriptive characteristics about documents. When users create or edit a document of a document type that has a metadata set, they specify metadata field values to describe the document.

Liferay Portal supports the following metadata fields:

Boolean: is a check box.

Date: lets you enter a date. A valid date format is required for the date field, but you don’t have to enter a date manually. When you select the date field a mini-calendar pops up which you can use to select a date.

Decimal: lets you enter a decimal number. The value is persisted as a double.

Documents and Media: lets you select a file from one of the Liferay Portal instance’s Documents and Media libraries.

Geolocation: lets you specify a location to associate with the document.

HTML: an area that uses a WYSIWYG editor to enhance the content.

Integer: lets you enter an integer. The value will be persisted as an int.

Link to Page: lets you link to another page in the same site.

Number: lets you enter a decimal number or an integer. The value is persisted either as a double or an int, depending on the type of input.

Radio: displays several clickable options. The default number of options is three but this is customizable. Only one option can be selected at a time.

Select: is just like the radio field except that the options are hidden and have to be accessed from a drop-down menu.

Text: lets you enter a single line of text.

Text Box: is just like the text field except you can enter multiple lines of text or separate paragraphs.

The easiest way to create metadata fields is by creating them in Metadata Sets. In Documents and Media in Site Administration, select Options (icon-options.png) → Metadata Sets to open the Metadata Sets window.

dm-metadata-sets-list.png

Figure 1: The Metadata Sets management window lets you view existing sets and create new ones for applying to document types.

You can view, edit, or add metadata sets from the Metadata Sets window. If you select the check box next to the Order by heading all the sets are selected. If you select one or more sets, the Recycle Bin icon (icon-trash.png) appears. To move selected metadata sets to the Recycle Bin, click the Recycle Bin icon. The Order by selector lets you order the sets by Modified Date or ID. The up and down arrows let you arrange the sets in ascending or descending order, respectively. You can also click on a metadata set’s name to edit it.

The following actions can be performed on each metadata set.

Edit: opens an editor for modifying the metadata set.

Permissions: grant or revoke permission for roles to update, delete, view, or configure permissions for the metadata set.

Copy: Make a copy of the metadata set.

Delete: Move the set from Documents and Media to the Recycle Bin.

You create metadata sets independently of any document types, but you can apply them to any number of document types.

As an example, let’s create a metadata set called Syllabus Fields for a document type called Syllabus. What metadata should we associate with syllabi? Let’s choose for our syllabi to have course title, professor, location, semester, course description, and course requirements fields. All syllabi in our Liferay instance should be created using the Syllabus document type and authors must specify values for these fields. This ensures that a syllabus shows up in the Search app when keywords match its metadata field values.

To start creating the Metadata Set, click the Add icon (icon-add.png). The New Metadata Set window appears. Name the metadata set Syllabus Fields.

Note that you can translate each of a metadata set’s field values to any of the locales your Liferay instance supports. To specify a field value for a translation, select the flag that represents the locale and enter the field value for the locale.

In the Details dropdown section you can describe the metadata set and select an existing metadata set to extend. If there’s a metadata set to which you want to simply append more fields, then click the Select button and choose the metadata set you want as your new metadata set’s parent. When a user creates adds a document of a document type that uses this metadata set, the parent metadata fields will appear above the other fields you define in this metadata set.

Next up is the metadata fields editor. Select the editor’s View tab and select the Fields tab within it. Here you have all of the field types available for you to use in creating your metadata set. Icons representing the field types are listed on one side and the metadata set’s canvas is on the other side. To add a field type to the metadata set, select its icon and then drag and drop it onto the canvas. The field shows on the canvas as it will for document type users. Note, by dragging a field onto a field that’s already on the canvas, you can nest the new field in the existing field.

When you move your mouse over a field on the canvas, the field action icons (icon-dm-metadata-actions.png) appear. Clicking the wrench shows the field’s settings table opposite the canvas. Clicking the + icon creates a duplicate of the current field and adds it below the current field. Clicking the trash can deletes the field.

dm-metadata-set-settings.png

Figure 2: The metadata fields editor for Metadata Sets and a Document Type’s Main Metadata Fields helps you define custom document types.

To configure a field’s settings, just click on the field in the canvas. This automatically selects the Settings tab to show the settings table opposite the canvas. Alternatively, you can access the Settings tab by clicking the field’s Settings icon (wrench). To edit the setting value, double-click on the setting value in the settings table and specify your new value.

Labels, default values, variable names, mouse-over tips, widths, and other settings can be configured for most fields. Some fields have a Required setting that lets you specify whether users must specify a value for the field. If a field’s Repeatable setting is set to Yes, users can add multiple consecutive instances of the field to the document’s metadata.

Click Save when you’re done specifying your new metadata set. Now you can apply the metadata set to a new Document Type.

Creating Document Types

When apply to Document Types enrich your document library files with information and integrate them further with Liferay Portal’s features. Not only do Document Types allow you to encourage, and even demand, that users specify important document metadata, but they also help you integrate the document with more of Liferay Portal’s features, such as Search and Workflow. Liferay’s Search picks up on Documents and Media file metadata, so users can find files faster. You can apply workflows to specific document types. And you can more cleanly organize document libraries by designating folders to exclusively hold particular document types.

Let’s open up the Document Types manager to start creating a document type. In Documents and Media in Site Administration, select Options (icon-options.png) → Document Types to open the Document Types window. It lists all of the current custom document types. From Search you can enter keywords to find matching document types. Selecting the check box next to Order by selects all of the document types. When one or more are selected the Recycle Bin icon (icon-trash.png) appears. You can click the Recycle Bin icon to move the selected document types from Documents and Media to the Recycle Bin.

The following actions are available for each document type.

Edit: opens a window for modifying the document type.

Permissions: lets you grant or revoke roles the ability to update, delete, and view the document type, and configure its permissions.

Delete: moves the document type from Documents and Media to the Recycle Bin.

A document type must be associated with one or more metadata sets. When creating a new document type, you can define Main Metadata Fields or select Additional Metadata Fields. Main metadata fields are directly tied to their document type. Main metadata fields can only be created within a document type’s editor window and they cannot be used with other document types. You can apply existing metadata sets to a document type in the document type’s Additional Metadata Fields section. You can differentiate the document types that implement the same additional metadata sets by defining different main metadata fields for them.

Let’s create a Syllabus document type to which we can apply the Syllabus Fields metadata set we created earlier. From the Document Types management window, click Add. This opens the New Document Types window. Name the document type Syllabus. Click the Details dropdown section to show a text area for entering a description.

The Main Metadata Fields section shows the same metadata editor that you used for defining your metadata set. The editor lets you define metadata by dragging field types from the icon area and dropping them onto the canvas. You can define a document type’s metadata in the Main Metadata Fields section and/or define it using existing metadata sets.

In the Additional Metadata Fields section, you can select existing metadata sets to apply to the document type in addition to the document type’s main metadata set. Click Select and choose the Syllabus Fields metadata set you created earlier. You’ve now added the metadata set to your Syllabus document type.

The document type’s Permissions section lets you specify its permissions. By default, the document type is viewable by anyone, including site guests. But you can restrict the type’s view, update, delete, and permissions configuration permissions to site members or the document type’s owner.

When you’re done creating your new document type, click Save. The document type is now accessible from Documents and Media’s Add menu. When users create new instances of the document type, they’re presented with metadata fields to describe the document. These fields look the same as they do in the metadata editor canvas.

Document Types and their Metadata Sets let users ascribe important information to documents. The metadata is available for users to inspect in the document’s file entry view. The metadata is also searchable using Liferay Portal’s Search app. As you’ve witnessed, Document Types and Metadata Sets make documents rich with information and integrate them more with Liferay Portal’s features.

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