If the information about the data is in an excel file and the entries in the first column are unique, then the Import Metadata tool described in section 3.2.1 can be used to define the table and import the metadata in a couple of steps.
In other cases, the Metadata Table Editor can be used to import metadata from an external file, or to create and populate a metadata table directly. It involves more steps than the basic import tool, but is more flexible and has some basic error checking associated with data types. General features of this importer are:
- Can import from Excel (.xlsx/.xls) or text files with a common delimiter can be used.
- The structure of the metadata table (the columns, their type, and the key column) must be set up before the metadata (contents) are imported.
- It is generally recommended that one column be designated as the key column. Entries in that column must have unique entries.
- The default data type for columns on creation is text, but this can be altered before import commences. When importing the metadata, an error will result if entries are found that do not match the expected data type.
- Association with metadata is done by matching data element names with the entries in the first column of the spreadsheet. Name matching can be based on exact or partial matches.
- Association of data with metadata is done as a separate step from import, providing flexibility. For example, if information in more than one column together uniquely identifies a sample, but the information within a single given column does not uniquely do so.
- Association of data with metadata can be done row by row if key column entries and the names of the relevant data elements are not related.
To start the Metadata Table Editor, go to:
File | New | Metadata Table ()
This opens a new metadata table with no columns and no rows. Importing metadata using the Metadata Table Editor requires that the table structure is defined first.