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0021 Collections

Collections provide a general mechanism for grouping entities together. A collection may be maintained manually, or via an automated process (ie a "smart collection"). The membership of a collection is established via a CollectionMembership relationship, which has attributes that allow the rationale and the confidence of the membership to be established. A Referenceable entity can be a member of none, one or many collections.

Since a collection is a Referenceable entity, collections can be organized into hierarchies - like a directory structure on the filesystem.



The Collection entity provides the node that represents the collection as a whole. It inherits from Referenceable.

The attributes for a collection, beyond the standard attributes for Referenceable include:

  • name - this is the display name for the collection
  • description - this is the text that describes the characteristics of the members that are to be found in the collection.
  • collectionType - describes the type of collection that is used to select its icon or display layout. For example, it may be a "theme", or "domain", or something else.

Collection classifications

The classifications associated with Collection allow it to be specialized for particular uses. They help when searching for collections for specific uses.

  • RootCollection means the collection is an independent, top-level node in a collection hierarchy. The members of this collection are typically all collections.
  • HomeCollection means the collection is the top-level node in a collection hierarchy anchored to a specific Referenceable. The members of this collection may or may not be collections.
  • Folder means the collection can be treated as if it where a folder of metadata elements. This classification includes properties to control how the members are displayed.
  • ResultsSet means the collection is a set of related results.
  • RecentAccess means the collection is a set of elements that have been recently accesses by a user.
  • WorkItemList means the collection is a set of elements that have been recently accesses by a user.
  • DigitalProduct describes a collection of assets that represent a digital product.
  • GovernanceStatusSet for a collection of governance statuses.
  • GovernanceClassificationSet for a collection of governance classification for a particular governance classification.
  • EventSet for a collection of related event schemas.

The example below shows part of a collection hierarchy representing a digital product catalog. The collections are shown in green and the assets that provide the content for the digital product are shown in yellow.

The collection at the root of the collection hierarchy is called "Product Catalog Collection" and has the RootCollection classification attached. Its membership consists of collections with the Folder classification. The leaf node collections have the DigitalProduct classification attach and have the data assets as their members.

Collection Hierarchy

RootCollection classification

The RootCollection classification indicates that the collection is used to provide the starting node for an independent hierarchy of collections. For example, this could be a collection hierarch that organizes [digital products]

HomeCollection classification

The HomeCollection classification indicates that the collection is used to provide the starting node for a hierarchy of collections.

Folder classification

The Folder classification indicates that the collection is used to organize metadata elements. The attributes are used to indicate to the caller how they should be displayed.

  • collectionOrder indicates the preferred ordering sequence. It uses the OrderBy enumeration.
  • orderByPropertyName indicates which property to use if the collectionOrder attribute is set to OTHER.

ResultsSet classification

The ResultsSet classification indicates that the collection is a set of elements that are the results from a specific request or query.

RecentAccess classification

The RecentAccess classification indicates that the collection is a set of elements that have been accessed recently.

WorkItemList classification

The WorkItemList classification indicates that the collection is organizing a set of elements (typically ToDos, or Tasks).

CollectionMembership relationship

The CollectionMembership relationship is used to link a Referenceable entity to a Collection entity to indicate that it is a member of the collection.

The Collection entity inherits from Referenceable so a collection can be a member of other collections. For example, it is possible to create a nested set of folders for assets.

Asset Folder Hierarchy

The attributes for the CollectionMembership relationship establish the level of trust to give to a member's right to be part of the collection:

  • The membershipRationale attribute describes why the member is part of the collection.
  • The expression attribute indicates the expression used to decide on the membership. This is typically set up by automated processes to identify the rule they used to determine the membership.
  • The confidence attribute indicates how confident that the membership is correct.
  • The createdBy attribute is the identifier of the process or person that created (curated) the relationship. This is useful for identifying the instance of a process that created the membership relationship or the curator if they are different from the steward.
  • The source attribute describes the source of information that identified this membership.
  • The steward attribute identifies the person that is accountable for the correctness of this membership relationship.
  • The stewardTypeName attribute identifies the type of element (such as UserIdentity, Person, PersonRole) that is responsible for the correctness of this relationship.
  • The stewardPropertyName attribute identifies the property (such as guid or qualifiedName) used to identify the steward.
  • The notes attribute enables the steward to add additional information about this relationship.
  • The membershipStatus attribute indicates the status of the member in the collection. It is a MembershipStatus value.
  • The userDefinedStatus provides a status value when status=OTHER.

OrderBy enumeration

  • Name - Order by name property.
  • Owner - Order by owner property.
  • DateAdded - Order by date added to the metadata collection.
  • DateUpdated - Order by date that the asset was updated.
  • DateCreated - Order by date that the asset was created.
  • Other - Order by another property.

MembershipStatus enumeration

The values for the MembershipStatus enumeration are:

  • Unknown - The membership origin is unknown. This is the default value.
  • Discovered - The membership was discovered by an automated process.
  • Proposed - The membership was proposed by an expert curator. The curator uses their expertise to create the membership. They may or may not be the steward who is ultimately accountable for the correctness of the membership.
  • Imported - The membership was imported from another metadata system.
  • Validated - The membership created by an automated process has been validated and approved by an expert curator. Again, the curator may or may not be the steward.
  • Deprecated - The membership should no longer be used.
  • Obsolete - The membership must no longer be used.
  • Other - Another membership status that is set up in the userDefinedStatus attribute.

They can be used to support a simple stewardship workflow. For example, consider an engine action that scans through the assets examining each one's Retention classification. If the values in the classification indicate that the resource that it represents should be archived, it may link the asset into a collection.

Candidate assets for archive

The status value could be Discovered in each CollectionMembership relationship. Once the collection is complete, the governance action could trigger a request to a steward to verify the list. The steward could update the CollectionMembership status to either:

  • Validated - The resource should be archived.
  • Obsolete - The resource should be retained.

Once the review is complete, another governance action would drive the archive process for all resources indicated by the CollectionMembership relationships with Validated status.

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