Working with the controlled vocabulary

The Controlled vocabulary lets you create word lists with preferred terms / keywords. Terms are hierarchically organised like a tree, with broader and narrower terms. Your lists can be used in different ways while keywording your files online, but also to automatically translate words, to remove or replace words, or to add synonyms while metadata is being processed by the background data processing software on the server. Regardless of how your files enter the system.

Recommended reading


A controlled vocabulary is an established list of standardized terminology for use in indexing and retrieval of information. A controlled vocabulary ensures that a subject will be described using the same preferred term each time it is indexed and this will make it easier to find all information about a specific topic during the search process. The Infradox XS Controlled vocabulary however, is used for several other purposes as well – as is described in this article. Controlled vocabularies typically include preferred and variant terms for a defined scope or a specific domain. You can build your word lists as a taxonomy.  A taxonomy is an orderly classification for a defined domain, also known as a faceted vocabulary. It comprises controlled vocabulary terms (generally only preferred terms) organised into a hierarchical structure. Each term in a taxonomy is in one or more parent/child (broader/narrower) relationships to other terms in the taxonomy. There can be different types of parent/child relationships, such as whole/part, genus/species, or instance relationships. In good practice, all children of a given parent share the same type of relationship.

It is recommended that you read this entire article before you start entering terms in your Controlled vocabulary.

Building the Controlled vocabulary

You can organise your word lists five levels deep. The Controlled vocabulary view shows five boxes. The leftmost box represents the so called Root, and it has the broadest (parent) terms. The Root terms are very important because these are used to define the scope or domain of the terms that are created for it. You can add a virtually unlimited number of Root terms. An example of a four level deep hierarchy is Food > Fruit > Tropical fruit > Banana. Where Food is the broadest (or Root) term, and Banana is the narrowest term in this hierarchy. Another well known example of a Root term is Animal kingdom as a container to define all animals with Vertebrates and Invertebrates as its immediate narrower terms.

To be able to make changes to the vocabulary, you’ll have to lock it for editing. Click the Lock button at the top. The page will reload and it will show your name. When you are done editing, click the button again (which is now labeled Unlock).

Once you have added a Root term (click the + icon at the top of the box), you can start adding narrower terms for it in the 2nd box. First click the root term for which you want to add narrower terms, then click on the + icon at the top of the 2nd box to add a single term. Or click on the double ++ icon to add multiple terms at once. If you add a term with the single + icon, you’ll be able to also add synonyms for the new term. If you add many terms at once, you’ll be able to add synonyms later by selecting a term and then click on the edit icon that will appear on the right of the selected term.

Synonyms and related terms

Synonyms are terms that have the same meaning as the terms that you have defined as your preferred terms. For example, you may want to use the term Conflict as opposed to War. Or think of Holland as another name for the official term The Netherlands. The background processing software can be configured to automatically replace found words with your preferred terms. So if the word Holland is found in the keywords, it can be automatically replaced with The Netherlands. But it is also possible to add synonyms or preferred terms. E.g. if the term War is found, the preferred term Conflict can be added and if the preferred term Conflict is found, the synonym term War can be added.

Other uses of the synonyms field

You can also use the synonyms function to add commonly misspelled words, short hand codes and related terms, so that these can be automatically added or so that these can be used to find preferred terms. It is also possible to add synonyms to other fields than the field for which a rule is configured. E.g. you can use one of the metadata fields to store terms that you don’t want to see on your website, but that you do want indexed/searchable, so that a file is found when the preferred term is used in a search, but also when one of its synonyms is used instead.This way the Controlled vocabulary can accommodate two categories of information: information intended for display to end users and information intended for retrieval. You can also use this mechanism to automatically add terms for which shorthand codes are found. E.g. if your keyworders use ISO country codes as opposed to full country names, then you can maintain a list of all official country names, and you can add the ISO codes to the synonyms.

Organising your word list hierarchy

Before you start adding terms, it is important to carefully think about how you are going to organise / group your terms. One of the reasons is that you can connect any level of your terms to fields in the metadata repository. This way you can use the Controlled vocabulary to select properties describing a photo, video or other file type. For example, you can configure one of the metadata fields to allow for photographic terms only. It is recommended to create one Root term as a container for such use. So for example, create a root term called Fields and then add a narrower term called Photographic terms. Then add the terms that may be selected for the field that you have connected in the metadata editing dialog or the upload pages. For example, Abstract, Blurred, Close-up and so on. You can configure another metadata field specifically for Composition. Create a narrower term for the root term Fields (which is actually just a container in this example) and call it Composition. Next you can add narrower terms for Composition such as Full length, Waist up, Mid section, Head and shoulders, Face only and so on. Note that this is just an example of how you can use the Controlled vocabulary. You don’t have to configure metadata fields to hold specific information, all the terms can go into the keywords field just as well.

Terms may appear in different hierarchies. For example the term Woman may appear in Business as Businesswoman, in Gender as Female with Woman added as a synonym and so on. You can search for terms by entering a word in the box at the top. Any matches will display including their broader term / context. You can then click on any of the terms to go to in the tree view. All of the terms broader terms will load and expand automatically.

Translating your vocabulary

The controlled vocabulary can be translated for all the languages (locales) that you have enabled in Site configuration. By default, when you add terms in the primary locale, copies are added to all other locales that you can then edit by switching to a different locale. To switch to a different locale, simply select one in the dropdown box on the top right. The CV is now in Translation mode. You can not add terms when in translation mode.

If you want to translate your lists off-line, then you can schedule an export job (using job server in Back office). When you are done translating the exported cvs file, you can upload your translated file again with job server. It will automatically apply your updates to the selected locale.

You can create a data processing rule to automatically translate terms found in one or more source fields, by use of your CV. The translated terms can be added to the source field or to a separate field.

Background processing of metadata

From here on the Controlled vocabulary is referred to as the CV.

When a file enters the system or when a file’s metadata is updated, the metadata is processed on the server. Background processing involves many different steps. E.g. your metadata is analysed to automatically create search filters, to create galleries, to extract keywords for the live suggestions functions, for the similar files function and so on.

You can also configure background processing to – among other things – enrich your data by use of the CV and/or to translate terms (e.g. keywords). To set this up, go to Site configuration and then click Metadata processing in the sidebar. You can create as many rules as you need. The process of adding and changing such rules is described in the article Data processing rules. This paragraph explains how you can create a processing rule using your CV to replace or to add preferred and synonym terms. Note that you can create several rules, e.g. one for each field that you want to process.

Processing rules for vocabulary processing

To add a processing rule, click on New in the toolbar. In the properties dialog, it is recommended to create a new group for rules that you configure for CV processing. You can do this by simply entering a title in the input box “enter new group name”. When you save your processing rule, the group will be automatically created and when you add additional rules you’ll be able to select this group in the dropdown box. Also enter a short description that reminds you what this processing rule is for. In this example, we’ll be processing the keywords so select Keywords for the content field property. You can use this rule for new files only, for updates only or for both. Generally speaking you should check both boxes (Inserts and Updates). Leave the box Before supplier matching unchecked. Leave all other settings on the first tabsheet unchecked and don’t enter anything in the input boxes. If you want to limit this rule so that it processes files from certain suppliers or groups only, then you can configure this on the supplier conditions tabsheet. The same is true for the conditions that you can configure on the processing conditions tabsheet. You can find more information about this in the article Data processing rules.

Click on the Vocabulary tab to start configuring your new processing rule. Tick the box Enable vocabulary processing. Below is an explanation of the settings that you can use:

  • Add synonyms
    If you enable this function, then each word that is found in the content field (which you have selected on the first tabsheet) is looked up in the CV. The other settings on this tabsheet are used to configure what has to be done if there’s a match and how to look for terms in the CV.
  • Match preferred terms only
    As described in the above paragraphs, the terms that you enter in the CV are considered preferred terms. I.e. the terms that you want your keyworders to use. A term may be found by its synonyms as well by unticking this setting. For example if you have The Netherlands as a preferred term, and the word Holland is found in the keywords (or another field for which you are creating a processing rule), then the term will be found if it exists in the synonyms field for The Netherlands. Normally the setting Match preferred term only should be off.
  • Replace found synonym with preferred term in the input source
    As described above, if a term is found in the synonyms that you’ve added to your preferred term, then this synonym will be replaced with the preferred term. Using the above example, Holland will be removed and The Netherlands will be added. Note that if the preferred term exists in the content field also, then the synonym will be removed without adding the preferred term again.
  • Add terms from vocabulary to…
    If the option Add synonyms is enabled, and there’s a match in your CV, then you have the terms added to the same field but also to a different field that you must select in the dropdown box. This makes it possible to add synonyms, commonly misspelled words and/or related terms to a separate field that is searchable but not visible. Note that you make fields invisible for users in The metadata repository.
  • Add parent/broader term
    If you select this option, then the immediate broader term of a term that is found in the CV will be added if it doesn’t already exists in the content field. For example, if banana is found and it’s defined as a narrower term of tropical fruit, then tropical fruit will be added.

Processing rules for vocabulary translation

To configure automatic translation of words by use of the CV, add a new processing rule (as described above) select a source field on the first tab sheet, and then click on the tab sheet “Vocabulary translation“. You can now select the source language and the target language (e.g. from English to French). The translated terms can be added to the source field or you can output the translations to a different field. If you use the latter option, then you can clear the target field first by selecting this option next to the target field dropdown box. The translation function only looks for exact matches in the preferred words, it doesn’t scan for words in the synonyms. You can however choose to have any synonyms that are entered for the found term added to the output field.

Limiting data processing scope

As described in the previous paragraphs, the so called Root terms can be used to provide scope. You can limit searching for terms to specific levels in your CV’s hierarchy as opposed to searching the entire CV. So if you are creating a processing rule for a metadata field that you are using for a specific purpose, then you can configure the processing rule to look for terms in a selected level only. E.g. if we have a field in which we want country names only, and there’s a root term called World which describes all countries as narrower terms, then limit searching to the level World. Note that you always select a Parent term because the data processing function will search within this term only, i.e. for narrower terms created for the selected broader term.
E.g. World (root term providing scope) > Western Hemisphere (narrower term) > Europe (narrower term) > The Netherlands (narrower term).


Controlled vocabulary Data processing scenario’s

Below are some examples of configuring data processing rules that work with the Controlled vocabulary