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Using Photocat


Photocat is a web-based application that allows descriptive metadata entry for items managed by the DLPs fedora preservation repository. Though originally designed for MODS-based cataloging of photographs, the application has outgrown its name "PhotoCat" and now is a more generic metadata entry application.


  • Collection - Groups of materials in Photocat are grouped into "collections". A collection is a group of materials for which one particular set of metadata is collected. Typically all items in a collection are the same type of materials.
  • quick search form - Once a collection has been selected, there is a search form at the top right-hand corner of the pages that allows searching of the records in that collection. This form will be referred to in this documentation as the "quick search form".
  • navigation menu - Once a collection has been selected, links to "Search", "Browse", "Vocabulary Sources" and "Batches" appear in a gray bar. This is referred to as the navigation menu.
  • search results page - An array of thumbnail images (possibly with identifiers and a title) is presented as the results of a search or browse operation. Controls to page through these results as well as a search form are presented as well.

Creating a Collection

Collections are created as the result of a consultation with DLP staff. Metadata fields are selected and digital materials are processed and used to populate the collection.

For more information see:

  • field selection process
  • digitization guidelines

Logging In

When accessing a page that requires authorization you'll automatically be redirected to IU's Central Authentication Service to which you'll supply your IU credentials before being granted access to that page. For users whose work centers around a single collection, the user may bookmark the collection home page and always use that as an entry point into the application. Other users may wish to simply start at the collection selection page.

Locating Records

Records may located and viewed using several means.

  • Search: Searching with no criteria entered will result in a listing of all records in the system sorted by identifier. This may be the easiest way to discover records before metadata has been entered. There is a convenient link on the collection home page to perform this action, but at any time a user may also click the "search" button on the quick-search form having entered no search terms.
  • Browsing by Field Value: clicking on the "browse" link in the navigation menu will allow you to select fields and navigate to records that have particular values in those fields. For example, clicking on "browse" then "title" will present a table listing all titles entered. For each title you can follow a link to "view records" which will take you to a search results page exposing access to all the records with the given title.

Editing Records

Clicking on the identifier or thumbnail image in the search results page will take you to a page that allows the metadata for that item to be entered or modified. At the top of the page, the identifier is displayed.

Item Preview

On the right side of the page there will be an item preview box containing a visual representation of the item whose metadata is currently being edited. If alternate views or formats are available links to access them will be presented in this preview box.

Modification History

If versioning of metadata is enabled and the record has been modified more than once, a "Modification history" box will appear below the preview listing all versions of the metadata for the object. Clicking on a version (which is presented as the date the modification was made) will display a summary of the values stored at that time. By opening two versions and comparing the values, a full accounting of changes may be tracked.


Photocat stores metadata internally in a format referred to as "item metadata", but often more standard formats are desired. Links to export the metadata of a given record into another format are presented below the modification history. If no transformations are configured, this element will not be presented.

Metadata Entry Fields

The left-hand side of the "edit item" page is a listing of all of the fields currently configured for items in the selected collection. Values for the current item are exposed for modification and new values may be entered. Changes to fields on this page are only saved when the user clicks a "Save" button (located at the bottom of the page). Clicking on navigation menu links may result in loss of unsaved changes.

  • Click on the label for the field to see notes about how the field should be used.
  • Some fields are "repeatable" meaning that multiple values may be entered. To enter an additional value, click on the little blue "+" sign at the right side of the entry box(es).
  • Some fields are linked to controlled vocabularies and will automatically suggest values once three letters have been typed into the box
  • Some fields require specific formatting, such as the Date field and will disallow improperly formatted values. Upon saving records, helpful advice will be given if invalid values have been entered.
  • Some fields are "internal only" meaning that the values are protected from access by unauthorized users. All other fields, regardless of the status of the record are not protected.
Advanced Searching

Boolean, phrase and wildcard searching is supported in both the quick search form and the search form presented on the search results page. This includes searches like "Dog OR cat", "dog and cat" and "(dog or cat) and monkey", "mon*", etc.


Locating records with a particular value in a particular field may be done on the browse page. Furthermore, location of records with NO value entered in a particular field is also available.


Browse by the "last modified by" to review the work of an individual cataloger.


Browsing by status may be used to implement a review process in your workflow.

Expert Tip

Collection administrators may perform a batch-replacement operation from the browse page. If a value is present in multiple records all of those records may be updated to replace that value with another value or remove it altogether. This allows easy correction of since eradicated bad cataloging practices or migration to a new preferred term.

Vocabulary Sources

Fields may be linked to one or more controlled vocabulary sources.  Furthermore, vocabulary lists may be maintained implicitly by keeping a record of all values saved for a particular field.  To see the vocabulary sources and the fields to which they're linked, click on the "Vocabulary Sources" link in the navigation menu.

To browse the terms in the linked vocabulary sources you can click on the value in the "source name" column in the table of controlled or uncontrolled vocabulary sources.  To to right, a table will appear.  The links that appear at the bottom of that table will allow navigation of the entire set of values.  For locally managed vocabulary sources you may also delete any term from the list of values.  This will prevent it from being suggested again when a user begins typing in a linked field. 

Batch Operations

A batch of records is simply a list of record identifiers, but allows for operations to be performed asynchronously on multiple records. Batches are accessible using the "Batches" link in the navigation menu and currently open batches are visible in a special place on the right-hand side of the screen. To Open or Close a batch, click the link on the "Batches" page.

Batches can be created in several ways:

  • Manually using the form on the Batches page. (just enter a name for the batch and click "Create batch")
  • Imported from a spreadsheet
  • Created by saving search results.
  • Created by other asynchronous operations.

Items may be added to an existing batch on the search results page.

  1. Open the batch on the "Batches" page.
  2. Perform a search that will include the item in question (possibly just search for its identifier)
  3. Click on the checkbox by the item on the search results page.
  4. Click the "add selected items to the batch" button for the batch you'd like it added to


Batches may contain identifiers to records that do not exist! This may be because a record has been deleted or a batch that has been uploaded with references to invalid identifiers. Batch operations will fail when they encounter these identifiers.

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