Metadata is at the heart of everything in geographical resources, they fuel heritage discovery services and are essential for the proper functioning of platforms. Yet they often remain on the side line because of their complex and tedious life cycle.

Based on this observation, the GeoNetwork teams are launching a new project called geonetwork-ui which brings together tools and elements in order to design modern, fun, intuitive interfaces and of course centered on all use cases.

The idea is a complete overhaul of GeoNetwork's interfaces, that sometimes are considered too technical or too complex, to offer something completely new in terms of user experience: it will soon be pleasant to create metadata or to search and actually use the data of our platforms.

Using this approach, the crucial thing is to grasp the various needs of users and their use cases, in order to extract simple and intuitive elements of the interface. Here is a list of simple use cases:

  • Make entering metadata easier and more pleasant
  • Centralize OpenData and geographical data
  • Exploiting data using dataviz tools
  • Enable the use of research tools to make searching more precise and refined
  • Search inside the data and metadata
  • Included interface elements from an outside source.
  • New catalog mode for public consultation.

These are just a few examples, but many ideas are already emerging that go beyond a simple business-oriented research page and an ISO-compatible editor. We want different entry points dedicated to clear and understandable usages.

These ideas were first presented at the Geonetwork Meeting 2020, then while many different code sprints. Implications and architecture have since emerged and we are about to deliver the first components.

From a technical point of view, the architecture must answer many different challenges, here a few main points that we have apprehended:

  • Single repository approach for all frontend usage
  • Code sharing for both services and components between libraries and applications.
  • Enable to isolate responsibilities, both presentation and logical components.
  • Display of certain pages server side for crawler indexing.
  • Publication of Web Components to introduce Geonetwork functionalities in other sites.
  • Customizing these Web Components through the use of CSS variables
  • Internationalization
  • Accessibility
  • Generating a client API using the OpenAPI Geonetwork 4 based on ElasticSearch.

Publication of components through Storybook.

geonetwork-ui | © Camptocamp

The goal is

to decorrelate the presentation aspect of the logic, so that each profession, UX, UI and developers are able to work on different components, thus making it possible to simplify the interactions and the component development process. A Storybook is published to test and share the components, so we really hope to welcome more business contributions from communities.

Another important feature of this project is the publication of components in the Web Component format. 

These are standard elements that can be used and styled in third party pages. Thus, we can imagine including them in CMS or business-oriented sites:

  • A list of metadata according to defined criteria (e.g 10 most recent).
  • A simple search input connected to a remote catalog.
  • Aggregations with number of records per element (e.g INSPIRE themes).
  • A detailed metadata sheet.
  • Data visualization.

This technology offers new perspectives which, we are convinced, will enrich geographic portals and other business partner sites by facilitating the dissemination, search and use of data at the heart of your platforms.

geonetwork-ui-2 | © Camptocamp


This project is still in early stages of development but is already showing great potential. We are working on the finalization of the first Web Component metadata list (European Environment Agency), and on a simplified data / metadata entry application: Datafeeder (geOrchestra Haute-Loire). Other R&D projects and customers will soon be added to the catalog of components offered by geonetwork-ui.

We remain strongly implicated in this project, and we are convinced that it will help revolutionize the way users are exploiting and using geospatial platforms and applications.

You would like to know more?

Please feel free to contact us.

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