Understanding Metadata in Cascade - University of Houston
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Understanding Metadata in Cascade

Definition of metadata:
(noun) data that provides information about other data
First Known Use: 1983.

Cascade CMS Metadata SymbolFor every asset in the system's database, the Cascade Content Management System (CMS) keeps specific "sets" of metadata-type information, known as Metadata Sets. This metadata-type information is used to support many CMS internal dynamic functions, such as the automatic building and management of navigation items (menus, breadcrumbs, and link text, etc.), and can also be used for general asset management. In some cases, it can provide on-page content (e.g. a page's main headline; or a linked listing of news articles). It can also be used to support Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

The Metadata Set which the CMS tracks for each asset is very much like the set of associated information which might be kept for an individual in an employer's database.

For example: an employee may be listed in a company database by way of an identification number or code, with his or her relevant employment information then associated with that ID within the database. Thus, his or her "set of metadata" may include such types of information as: Name, Title, Reporting Line, Office Location, Office Phone Number, specific Extension, etc.

Additionally, even though an individual may not actually have one or more of the specific types of tracked information (e.g. a specific extension number), an 'empty' space in the database may still be retained for those pieces in case they might be added later on.

Similarly, several categories of associated information, or potentially associated information, are tracked for each eligible asset in the CMS.

Folders, Pages, Files, Blocks, and Dynamic External Link assets are all allowed to carry along each and every one of those pieces of potential information which comprise the Cascade CMS's basic Metadata Set. Additionally, once any metadata content is part of an asset's associated information, it is retained until altered or deleted, and is retained regardless of whether or not it is actually being used by the system.

It is important for Cascade editors to understand that they have control over the Metadata content (text and settings) for all assets to which they have editing permissions within their site[s]. It is also important for editors to understand how each type of asset uses the metadata associated with it, to ensure correct content.

Learn More 

| The Cascade CMS's basic Metadata Set | The System Name | Using an Asset's Essential Metadata and its System NameMetadata vs System Data

The Cascade CMS's basic Metadata Set

The basic Metadata Set includes specific categories of information which can be critical for every asset within the CMS:

  • the asset's Title
  • the asset's Display Name
  • the asset's Description

and also some important, but typically optional, information which may be used in a variety of ways, including search engine optimization (SEO), asset management, and news article documentation:

  • Author
    (e.g.  a news article's writer, rather than a page asset's content editor; this is not equivalent to the 'creator' of the asset)
  • Keywords
  • Summary
  • Teaser
  • Start Date
    (date an asset will publish, if enabled)

  • End Date
    (date an asset will be un-published, if enabled)

  • Expiration Folder
    (location an asset may be moved to if an End Date is set)

  • Review Date
    (includes an asset in a Report)

  • Custom Field[s]
    e.g. metadata sets for Folder assets usually include the custom settings which allow the Folder to:
    have its child page[s] appear in the Left Nav Menu; control the scope of the Left Nav Menu; and/or to control whether a custom header can be used by the pages within that Folder. Respectively:
    • Include in Menu
    • Display as Header
    • Custom Header


To see what Metadata content an asset already holds: select the asset, then click on the Details button, then select Info. See a sample illustration of the Details Button Info pane, below. 

The System Name

An asset's 'Name', also known as its System Name, is wholly distinct from its Display Name metadata content. And while (like the Title, Display Name, and Description metadata) it is also a critical piece of information within Cascade, the System Name would actually be considered to be a part of an array of data known as the System Information which Cascade tracks for every asset and component within the Cascade CMS.

The asset Name is usually indicated in the CMS interface as being modified by the type of asset carrying it. For example: Folder Name, Page Name, File Name

Any assets which Publish out to the server (i.e. Folders, Pages, and Files) need to have System Names which follow UH server filenaming conventions.

In brief: system names should be all-lowercase, have no spaces, and use dashes to separate words.

Editors should also avoid capital letters and underscores in system names: the use of capital letters can trigger some case-sensitivity issues; and the underscore characters can become obscured by the added underscore 'decoration' which distinguishes many hyperlink styles.

Editors should also scrupulously avoid the use of special or 'punctuation' characters (including periods, question marks, etc. [!, @, #, $, %, &, *, ...] ) as they have the potential to trigger many unwanted issues with a variety of bases. Some characters and character combinations may be benign and ignored in an editor's typically used system and then end up being unexpectedly interpreted by other systems and platforms.



Using an Asset's Essential Metadata and its System Name

The tracked Metadata Set information is especially important in how Folder assets, Page assets, and File assets are handled in Cascade. However, the Metadata information for each asset is used differently within the Cascade CMS depending on the type of asset for which the information has been stored.

The table below compares the use of key metadata items amongst Folders, Pages, and Files, and also contrasts the use of those assets' System Names as well:

Table of Metadata and System Name Use for Folders, Pages, and Files

METADATA: Title Display Name Description SYSTEM NAME
Table of Metadata and System Name Use for Folders, Pages, and Files


Folder assets usually also carry custom metadata to determine participation in, and scope of, the Left Nav, and/or enable use of a custom header

  1. Left Nav menu and Breadcrumb text for its immediate child page (page presumed to have the system name "index");
  2. Asset Tree text for Title View under User Settings;



  1. When asset is Published, this becomes a Directory name on the server;
  2. Asset Tree text when Title View under User Settings is de-selected;


  1. Browser window tab, title bar text;
  2. Asset Tree text for Title View under User Settings;
  1. Headline at top of content area;
  2. Default link text for custom header menu bar items, if not overridden;
  1. Webpage source meta tag contents used for search engine optimization (SEO);
    The Description field can offer a succinct yet substantive and detailed description of the page's content and purpose, which ultimately will be picked up by search engines after the material publishes out.
  1. When asset is Published, the System Name, with .php appended, becomes the Filename on server (e.g. index.php, header-local.php);
  2. Asset Tree text when Title View under User Settings is de-selected;


  1. Asset Tree text for Title View under User Settings;
  1. Link text for a Related Links listing;


  1. When asset is Published, the System Name becomes the Filename on server;
  2. Asset Tree text when Title View under User Settings is de-selected;


Used by

Site Visitor Sees


Ignored By



Left Nav text & Breadcrumb text which carry links to the immediate child "index" page; (Cascade Editors may see this text in asset tree;)

Blocks, Redirects,
External Link assets

Index Page

Browser window title bar or tab;
(Cascade Editors may see this text in asset tree;)

Display Name

Index Page

Page's main headline

Folders, Blocks, Redirects, External Link assets


Related Links Text; (Cascade Editors may see this text in asset tree;)


Index Page

Nothing visible - appears in source code; Search engines see

Folders, Block, Redirects, External Link assets


Article Page





Article Page

Blurb on an article page


pretty much everything except article-type pages


Index or Article Page

nothing visible; some search or social media contexts




Article Page

By-line on an article page


pretty much everything except article-type pages

Start Date

Article Page; any publishable asset

the new version of the page after Cascade publishes it on this date;


publishable assets for which publishing is switched off directly or by an ancestor folder setting (can give a folder heirarchy message)

End Date

Any publishable asset

the page or file has been removed from server


publishable assets for which publishing is switched off directly or by an ancestor folder setting (can give a folder heirarchy message)

Expiration Folder

Any publishable asset

Not visible outside Cascade; asset-tree-change - asset has moved to the designated folder;



Review Date

Any asset

Not visible outside Cascade; asset shows up on a Dashboard/My Content report


should not be ignored - indicates material which needs to be reviewed by a certain date;

See also:


Metadata vs System information - Which is Which?

Metadata information typically contributes directly or indirectly to the content and functionality of pages and files which will be published to the server.

System information generally defines which resources make up an asset, or identify the asset, and/or relates to how the asset acts or has been affected by actions within Cascade. The system name information for folders, pages, and files, together with the site's asset tree structure, will essentially define that material's web address upon publishing.

Both metadata and system information for an asset can change depending on actions taken by a CMS user, and both are tracked within the Cascade CMS database.

You can distinguish between and amongst the types of information in a number of different ways.

A) How you change or add the information can help you tell the difference:

The Edit dialog  vs  the Rename dialog  vs  the Add Content process
  • If you are in an EDIT button's Content or Metadata panels, you are most likely changing/adding Metadata or editing content. Some System Information settings can be changed in the Configure panel for a Page or File, or the Properties panel for a Folder – i.e. indexability and publish-/unpublish-ability – however: a System Name is never changed through any of the Edit-button panels. Nothing under the Edit button can change an asset's web address. 

    The most essential Metadata items usually appear at the top of the Edit: Content panel. The remaining, secondary or optional, Metadata items will show on the Edit: Metadata panel. Just keep in mind: the whole array of Metadata Set categories is the same for every asset whether that Metadata editing field appears on the Content editing panel or on the Metadata editing panel;
  • If you are in the RENAME dialog, you are changing a System Name.
    More button Rename option
    Above: an illustration of the More button's Rename option
    NOTE: Changing a System Name will change a publishable asset's working web address.

    Further, you can only change an existing asset's System Name by selecting the asset and then opening the Rename dialog.

    Discussion:  All assets have System Names. The asset’s type will determine whether or not it publishes out as a file on the server (e.g. Folders, Pages, Files) and therefore whether or not it needs to follow UH filenaming conventions in its System Name (e.g. not: most Block assets, or Dynamic External Link assets). Assets which do not publish out as distinct files to the server do not actually need to follow UH filenaming conventions, and can be named with capitals and spaces in their system names.

    Please also note: Blocks and Dynamic External Link assets in the CMS can be viewed as 'information holders' or 'content sources' within the CMS. These 'holders' dynamically channel their information to the page-type assets which Choose them (call them through a Chooser linking tool). The page asset then publishes, along with the integrated information. The 'holders' themselves do not publish.
  • If you are creating a Folder, Page, or File type asset from the Add Content menu:
    • the Asset Name you are asked to provide here is a System Name.
    • If the asset is a Folder, Page, or File its System Name must follow UH server file-naming conventions.*
    • The System Name can only be changed after creation by using the Rename dialog (found under the "More..." button).
    • Everything else related to an Asset Factory dialog[s] is either Metadata (this includes any "Display Name" field) and/or relates directly to content.
    • If you are creating a Block or Dynamic External Link type asset, the System Name for these non-publishing assets can have capitals and spaces.
    • *TIP: as a shortcut to coordinating the system name with the Title metadata, you can first enter the Title phrase with natural capitalization and spaces as desired, and then copy that and paste it into the system name field. Once you paste it in and click off the field, the CMS should flag the entry as unacceptable and offer an acceptable alternate suggestion. Accept the 'filtered' suggestion by clicking on the linked part of that alert under the system name field, then click Submit to finalize creation.


B) All the DETAILS:  Info tab vs Properties tab

Editing buttons including the Details buttonThe Details button can show users important information about the asset they are working with, including a number of pieces of both Metadata information and System Information, without the user having to fish through every dialog to find the various settings and fields.

The Details button will typically show 2 or 3 sub-tabs (see also, Details button illustrations below):

  1. The Info tab, which shows user-assigned metadata content for the asset's Display Name, Title, and Description, and can be expanded to also show other Metadata Set items; If no metadata content has been assigned, the item will show as "empty".
  2. The Properties tab, which displays current system information, such as the following for a typical page:


  • Created (date and time and editor)
  • Last Modified (date and time and editor)
  • Content Owner (by asset; new with v.8; can be assigned/reassigned)
  • Settings/Configuration for the asset:
    • Indexable
      (or not; i.e. whether the asset is sharing metadata with the system or not)
    • Publish-able (or not)
      (This setting refers to whether or not the CMS Publisher function is available or active for this specific asset. The Publisher encompasses both Publishing and Un-Publishing [e.g. Files de-selected for Publishability also cannot be Un-Published].)
  • Last Published (date and time and editor)
  • Metadata Set (system component)
    (This item represents a Metadata Set system-component, which is basically an instruction set outlining how the set of Metadata information for this asset is going to be presented to the user. These system instructions can determine on which Edit panel the specific pieces of metadata appear (the Edit: Content panel or the Edit: Metadata panel), and can even determine whether a particular piece of metadata is entirely hidden and therefore non-editable (rare). The Metadata Set component can also define custom metadata types for the CMS system to use in addition to the standard set. Folders are typically allowed to use their custom metadata settings to control Left Nav Menu participation and scope, and the use of custom headers within that Folder. )
  1. Depending on the type of asset, there might be a third tab under the Details button. A Details tab provides size and type information for file-type assets. A Design tab provides information about the underlying system component resources for page-type assets. 

Sample Illustrations of the Details Button Panels

Page asset Details: Info panel
Details: Info
for pages and files, the "Info" tab displays the whole Metadata Set.
Page asset Details: Properties panel
Details: Properties
the Properties panel can reveal important points of information about an asset's status and history.
Page asset Details: Design panel
Details: Design
the "Design" panel for a page indicates its Content Type - which determines what layout options are possible for that page.
File asset Details: Details panel
Details: Details
for Files the "Details" panel reveals the filesize and file type for the asset. Remember to keep a File's appropriate extension as part of its system name.