Metadata tools

A number of free tools are available for metadata creation. Some of them help you select controlled vocabularies to include in your documentation, while others combine that functionality with a fully-supported metadata schema. You will find brief descriptions of several useful tools below, along with links to download and installation instructions, documentation, tutorials, and user guides. Check out the feature comparison chart that provides additional information to help you find the right tool to fit your particular project, platform, and needs.


Annotare is a forms-based software for annotating biomedical investigations and resulting data. It supports biomedical ontologies, contains standard templates for common experimental types, and includes a design wizard for creating your own forms.

CEDAR Workbench

CEDAR Workbench is an open source tool to manage metadata, using rigorous semantic principles if desired. It allows users to specify templates using a UI (like survey forms in Google Forms or Survey Monkey), then to fill out those forms efficiently using drop-down menus, help tips, and intelligent suggestions. Templates and metadata can be shared with other users and groups. Metadata also can be downloaded in JSON-LD, simple JSON, or RDF, or exported to connected repositories, which can be integrated using the full API suite.

ISA Creator

ISA Creator is an open source, stand-alone application that assists with planning and describing experiments and facilitates export and import of data directly to and from some public repositories. Additional tools are available in the ISA-Tools software suite for parsing ISA-Tab into R data structures and for parsing PERL and Python for ISA-Tab. ISA-Tab is the required format for publishing data in Nature Publishing's Scientific Data journal. This software creates separate descriptive files for your experimental files.


Morpho allows you to describe ecological experiments and to create a catalog of data and descriptions that you can query. It includes an interface to the Knowledge Network for Biocomplexity (KNB) for sharing, querying, viewing, and retrieving data. 


OMERO is repository software for importing, viewing, organizing, describing, analyzing, and sharing microscopy images from anywhere you have Internet access. It includes the ability to create user groups with different permissions for sharing data.


OntoMaton provides ontology searching and automated tagging via NCBO's Bioportal of biomedical ontologies within Google spreadsheets. OntoMaton is part of the ISA-Tools suite. Annotations are generated within your tabular data file.


RIghtField is an open source tool that allows searching and selecting of ontology terms from within Microsoft Excel. RightField allows you to assign a pre-determined list of options to a particular cell within the spreadsheet. All annotations are embedded within the spreadsheet. The user can select from the NCBO's BioPortal ontologies or import an ontology from a URL or your local machine.