How To: Set up the USGS FGDC metadata utilties


Free metadata utilities are available from USGS, including mp (metadata parser) and cns (chew and spit). Use mp to validate FGDC metadata and to convert FGDC metadata files from one supported format to another. Use cns to turn poorly-formatted metadata text files into well-formatted text files that can be read properly by mp.

This article describes how to configure your computer so that you can run these utilties from the command prompt. Descriptions of these tools and instructions for using them can be found at http://geology.usgs.gov/tools/metadata.


The utilities mp and cns must be run from the command prompt. For this to work, your computer's Path environment variable must include the path where these utilties reside on your computer, e.g., "C:\USGS\tools\bin".

  1. Locate your computer's list of environment variables.
    For help with setting a system environment variable, see: How To: Edit an environment variable.
  2. Click the System variable Path.
  3. Edit the variable's value by going to the end of the current value, then type a semi-colon followed by the path to where the utilties reside on your computer. For example, type ";C:\USGS\tools\bin". There must not be a space between the semi-colon and the path.
  4. Click Set, Apply, and/or OK as appropriate to save your changes and close the dialog box.
  5. Open the Command Prompt dialog box by clicking Start > Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt.
  6. At the command prompt, type "mp" or "cns" then press Enter.

    If the Path variable was set properly, the usage for the command will appear. If not, go back to step 1 and fix the Path variable.