MetaSearch Catalogue Client



MetaSearch is a QGIS plugin to interact with metadata catalogue services, supporting the OGC Catalogue Service for the Web (CSW) standard.

MetaSearch provides an easy and intuitive approach and user-friendly interface to searching metadata catalogues within QGIS.


MetaSearch is included by default with QGIS 2.0 and higher. All dependencies are included within MetaSearch.

Install MetaSearch from the QGIS plugin manager, or manually from http://plugins.qgis.org/plugins/MetaSearch.

Working with Metadata Catalogues in QGIS

CSW (Catalogue Service for the Web)

CSW (Catalogue Service for the Web) is an OGC (Open Geospatial Consortium) specification, that defines common interfaces to discover, browse, and query metadata about data, services, and other potential resources.


To start MetaSearch, click the MetaSearch icon or select Web / MetaSearch / MetaSearch via the QGIS main menu. The MetaSearch dialog will appear. The main GUI consists of two tabs: ‘Services’ and ‘Search’.

Managing Catalogue Services

Managing Catalogue Services

The ‘Services’ tab allows the user to manage all available catalogue services. MetaSearch provides a default list of Catalogue Services, which can be added by pressing ‘Add default services’ button.

To all listed Catalogue Service entries, click the dropdown select box.

To add a Catalogue Service entry, click the ‘New’ button, and enter a Name for the service, as well as the URL/endpoint. Note that only the base URL is required (not a full GetCapabilities URL). Clicking ok will add the service to the list of entries.

To edit an existing Catalogue Service entry, select the entry you would like to edit and click the ‘Edit’ button, and modify the Name or URL values, then click ok.

To delete a Catalogue Service entry, select the entry you would like to delete and click the ‘Delete’ button. You will be asked to confirm deleting the entry.

MetaSearch allows for loading and saving connections to an XML file. This is useful when you need to share settings between applications. Below is an example of the XML file format.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<qgsCSWConnections version="1.0">
    <csw name="Data.gov CSW" url="http://catalog.data.gov/csw-all"/>
    <csw name="Geonorge - National CSW service for Norway" url="http://www.geonorge.no/geonetwork/srv/eng/csw"/>
    <csw name="Geoportale Nazionale - Servizio di ricerca Italiano" url="http://www.pcn.minambiente.it/geoportal/csw"/>
    <csw name="LINZ Data Service" url="http://data.linz.govt.nz/feeds/csw"/>
    <csw name="Nationaal Georegister (Nederland)" url="http://www.nationaalgeoregister.nl/geonetwork/srv/eng/csw"/>
    <csw name="RNDT - Repertorio Nazionale dei Dati Territoriali - Servizio di ricerca" url="http://www.rndt.gov.it/RNDT/CSW"/>
    <csw name="UK Location Catalogue Publishing Service" url="http://csw.data.gov.uk/geonetwork/srv/en/csw"/>
    <csw name="UNEP/GRID-Geneva Metadata Catalog" url="http://metadata.grid.unep.ch:8080/geonetwork/srv/eng/csw"/>

To load a list of entries, click the ‘Load’ button. A new window will appear; click the ‘Browse’ button and navigate to the XML file of entries you wish to load and click ‘Open’. The list of entries will be displayed. Select the entries you wish to add from the list and click ‘Load’.

The ‘Service info’ button displays information about the selected Catalogue Service such as service identification, service provider and contact information. If you would like to view the raw XML response, click the ‘GetCapabilities response’ button. A separate window will open displaying Capabilities XML.

Searching Catalogue Services

Searching Catalogue Services

The ‘Search’ tab allows the user to query Catalogue Services for data and services, set various search parameters and view results.

The following search parameters are available:

  • Keywords: free text search keywords
  • From: the Catalogue Service to perform the query against
  • Bounding box: the spatial area of interest to filter on. The default bounding box is the map view / canvas. Click ‘Set global’ to do a global search, or enter custom values as desired
  • Records: the number of records to return when searching. Default is 10 records

Clicking the ‘Search’ button will search the selected Metadata Catalogue. Search results are displayed in a list and are sortable by clicking on the column title. You can navigate through search results with the directional buttons below the search results. Clicking the ‘View search results as XML’ button opens a window with the service response in raw XML format.

Clicking a result will show the record’s abstract in the ‘Abstract’ window and provides the following options:

  • if the metadata record has an associated bounding box, a footprint of the bounding box will be displayed on the map
  • double-clicking the record displays the record metadata with any associated access links. Clicking the links opens the link in the user’s web browser
  • if the record is an OGC web service (WMS/WMTS, WFS, WCS), the appropriate ‘Add to WMS/WMTS|WFS|WCS’ buttons will be enabled for the user to add to QGIS. When clicking this button, MetaSearch will verify if this is a valid OWS. The OWS will then be added to the appropriate QGIS connection list, and the appropriate WMS/WMTS|WFS|WCS connection dialogue will then appear
Metadata Record Display


You can fine tune MetaSearch with the following settings:

  • Connection naming: when adding an OWS connection (WMS/WMTS|WFS|WCS), the connection is stored with the various QGIS layer provider. Use this setting to set whether to use the name provided from MetaSearch, whether to overwrite or to use a temporary name
  • Results paging: when searching metadata catalogues, the number of results to show per page
  • Timeout: when searching metadata catalogues, the number of seconds for blocking connection attempt. Default value is 10