Does this sound familiar?

It’s autumn. You want to publish a newsletter and insert this beautiful colored maple leaf image that you came across in your digital asset management (DAM) system recently. You search for ‘autumn’ but can’t find the exact image. Why? Your colleague who did the keyword indexing used the term “Fall.”

What to do? “Controlled vocabulary” is the answer. Controlled vocabularies restrict the choice of indexing terms to only those keywords in a specified list. Controlled vocabularies help reduce ambiguity that often arises when different people use different terms to name the same thing. That’s why the new Cumulus X release offers enhanced support for controlled vocabularies.

Why is Controlled Vocabulary Important for DAM?

Controlled vocabularies provide a way to organize how items are classified.

Controlled vocabularies allow you to identify specific words you’d like to use when indexing content in your DAM system. For instance “United States” could be defined as the appropriate ‘country’ name, and force everyone to select “United States” instead of randomly having some people input terms like “USA, US, U.S.A., United States of America, etc.” This consistency makes searching for content faster and more smooth.

A Technical Look at Controlled Vocabularies in Cumulus X

With the release of Cumulus 10.0.2, we introduced a new field type “Vocabulary”, and a special Cumulus catalog called $Vocabularies.

When you enable a “Vocabulary” field type, Cumulus will only accept values that are contained in the $Vocabularies catalog – in other words, terms from your predefined controlled vocabulary.

The $Vocabularies catalog doesn’t contain records, but only categories – each category represents a vocabulary term. So in the example above, you might have a category for each county in the world: Afghanistan, Belgium, Egypt, India, and so on. The $Vocabularies catalog can contain multiple controlled vocabularies. They are distinguished by the category metadata “Container Type”, e.g. “country”, “city”, “architecture”, “motcycle manufacturerer”, …. Categories (terms) with the same container type belong to the same vocabulary. This is very helpful for large multi-national brands, or institutions with many different departments and business lines each with their own defined vocabularies.

The Container Type is also used as a means to precisely control which terms can be entered into a given vocabulary field, and which not. For each vocabulary field in a Cumulus catalog, the administrator can specify the vocabulary (or the vocabularies) that can feed this field. For example, it probably wouldn’t make much sense to allow terms belonging to the vocabulary “Furniture Styles” in a field called “Country”…

But we don’t stop there. You have unlimited power when working with controlled vocabularies in Cumulus X. In Cumulus, categories have their own metadata, and the category metadata fields in the $Vocabularies catalog can be used to store various information about your vocabulary terms. Such information could contain a definition of the term, additional information, rules that must be applied, terms that must not be used, a thumbnail – whatever you need.

All of this additional information can of course be provided to the Cumulus user, either when adding terms to the metadata of a file, or when viewing files with the Web Client, Portals or the desktop Admin Client. And all of this without a single line of code – we let you build up the DAM system you need by configuring settings, in a very clean and intelligent way.

Of course, the new Controlled Vocabulary feature is well embedded with familiar Cumulus features, such as multi-language support. Having controlled vocabulary schemes in multiple languages is not a problem at all. Importing existing controlled vocabulary schemes into the $Vocabularies catalog works as simple as importing categories. This also makes it easy to use common controlled vocabulary schemes, instead of developing your own. There are many different vocabulary schemes available for a broad variety of user environments and disciplines.

Controlled Vocabulary terms can be added to records as metadata from the Web Client and Admin Client. And it makes searching for files very fast and streamlined from anywhere.

Controlled vocabularies in action (Cumulus Web Client)
Controlled vocabularies in action (Cumulus Web Client)