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v0.12.0 / Administration-Guide / 03 Metadata Editing

Metadata Editing

What is metadata?

Metadata is data about other data. It’s information that tells you about the data found in your database. For example, we could label a field that looks like just a bunch of numbers with the label “latitude,” which would give that field additional meaning and context.

Metabase allows you to optionally annotate the data in your database, which provides Metabase with an understanding of what the data actually means and allows it to more intelligently process and display it for you.

Editing your database’s metadata

All of these settings are editable via the Metadata page within the Admin Panel. To get there, click the dropdown in the top right of Metabase that shows your initials, and select Admin Panel. Then click on Metadata from the top menu.

In the column on the left, you can choose which database to view, and then select the table whose metadata you want to view and edit.

You can edit metadata for two things: tables and fields.

Metadata for tables

Tables can either be set to Queryable or Hidden. Queryable tables can be selected from the question builder, and all of the data in the table can be displayed (unless certain fields are excluded — more on that below).

Hidden tables can’t be selected from the query builder, and their data can’t be accessed.

You can also change the name and description of your tables here. Note that the underlying database won’t be affected — this will only change the name of the table while you’re viewing it within Metabase. Add descriptions to tables to let people know type of data a table contains and how it can be used. Descriptions are displayed in the data model reference panel in Metabase, which you can view by clicking the book icon in the top right of a new or saved question page.

If you ever want to see the original underlying schema for a given table, just click the Show original schema toggle in the top-right of the screen.

Metadata for fields

A field is a representation of either a column (when using a SQL based database, like PostgreSQL) or a field in a document (when using a document- or JSON-based database like MongoDB). Metabase automatically attempts to classify your fields and assign them a type. If Metabase misclassified any fields, you can correct that here.

There are several pieces of metadata you can edit per field: name, description, visibility, type, and details:

Name

Clicking on the name of the field allows you to change how the field name is displayed. For example, if your ORM produces table names like “auth.user”, you can replace this with “User” to make it more readable. Again, this only changes how the field is displayed in Metabase.

Description

This is a human-readable description of what the field is and how it is meant to be used. Any caveats about interpretation can go here as well. Descriptions are extra helpful when fields have values that are abbreviated or coded in a particular format.

Visibility

If you have really long data in certain fields, like descriptions or biographies, you can set the visibility to display the field Only in Detail Views when looking at a single record. By default, any column with an average length of longer than 50 characters is assigned this setting.

Similarly, if you have sensitive or irrelevant fields, you can set them to Do Not Include, preventing the field from being accessed by Metabase.

Types

Type assigns a field a high-level category, and changes how the field can be used within Metabase. For example, only Metric fields can be added or averaged. A field can be assigned one of four basic types:

  • Metric — a metric is a number that you expect to plot, sum, take averages of, etc. You could think of it as anything that would end up being plotted on the y-axis of a graph.
  • Dimension — This is any field that you expect to use as an x-axis of a graph or as part of a pivot table. Anything that you could group your results by could be called a dimension, such as dates.
  • Information — This is any other information that is not expected to be used in any kind of aggregate metrics but contains other information. Examples include descriptions, names, emails.
  • Sensitive Information — Use this setting for fields that you don’t want to show up anywhere in Metabase. This does the same thing as changing the visibility to Do Not Include, and in fact if you set a field’s visibility to Do Not Include, it’ll automatically get assigned the type Sensitive Information.

Details

A field’s detailed type is used to determine how to display it, and can also give certain types of fields special functionality. For example, by marking fields in a table as Latitude and Longitude, you allow the table to be used to create pin and heat maps. Similarly, marking a field as a URL allows users to click on it and go to that URL.

This is also where you can set a field to be a primary key or foreign key of a table.

Common detailed types include:

  • Avatar Image URL
  • Category
  • City
  • Country
  • Description
  • Foreign Key
  • Entity Key
  • Image URL
  • Field containing JSON
  • Latitude
  • Longitude
  • Entity Name
  • Number
  • State
  • URL
  • Zip Code

This is also where you set mark special fields in a table:

  • Entity Key — the field in this table that uniquely identifies each row. Could be a product ID, serial number, etc.
  • Entity Name — different from the entity key, this is the field whose heading represents what each row in the table is. For example, in a Users table, the User column might be the entity name.
  • Foreign Key — this is a field in this table that uniquely identifies a row in another table. In other words, this is a field that, almost always, points to the primary key of another table. For example, in a Products table, you might have a Customer ID field that points to a Customers table, where Customer ID is the primary key.

Next: managing users

Let’s learn how to add, remove, and edit users in the managing users section.