When creating metadata elements and sets, you must decide what data type would be best for the kind of information you will be entering. CollectiveAccess provides for twenty different data types, ranging from a simple free-text entry field to a Geocode entry, which connects with Google Maps’ Geocoding Service. All of the data types are described in full on the Attribute Types page.
When thinking about what kind of metadata you would like to create in your installation of Providence, it is helpful to categorize your metadata according to the most applicable data type. For example, let’s say that you are entering date information and would like to use this information to develop a timeline. If you plan to generate the timeline automatically, your date metadata will need to share a common format to facilitate automation. By restricting date information to the data type “DateRange,” Providence will then normalize the metadata you enter so that it is stored in a standard date format in the back-end database. In comparison, if you were to specify that the date information should be entered as a free text field, it would be more difficult to generate consistently entered metadata, and as a result, creating a timeline would be challenging at best.
One aspect of data types that confuses some CollectiveAccess users is that data types are sometimes referred to as “attributes” in documentation. This is because the way that data types are applied in the installation profile is through the creation of what is known as an “element attribute” in XML language. In other words, “datatype” is an attribute of “<metadataElement>” in the installation profile. After installation, data types for metadata elements may be changed or specified using the Metadata Elements editor through the Providence user interface.