Composite Resource


Composite resources provide the ability to group together multiple files of different types in one resource, such as:

  • Shapefiles representing a watershed boundary (polygon), observation sites (points), and time series and reference time series representing observations made at the observation sites.
  • Shapefiles, log files, and grid files from a Watershed Analysis.
  • Model instance files, where files that are part of a model instance need to be specifically typed

 A composite resource is:

  • Managed as one discoverable resource
  • Contains one set of access controls (Owners, Editors, private or public, etc.)
  • Has one unique identifier
  • Has one set of resource level metadata (authors, contributors, spatial and temporal coverage etc.)
  • Can have metadata specific to each file or content aggregation within it

HydroShare supports data formats that are widely used in Hydrology. In addition any type of file can be added to a HydroShare resource and, if desired, have single file metadata associated with it. For many of the content types, several files are required. For instance, when a user adds a shapefile to the composite resource, they must add at least the following three shapefile component files:  .dbf,  .shp, .shx. Content types comprised of multiple files are placed in a folder with a symbol indicating the content type.  Individual member files can be accessed by double-clicking to open the content type folder.

Content Types

The following Content Types are currently available.  Click on the links to learn more about each content type.

  • Single File: Any single file that a user wants to add file level or extended metadata to.
  • Geographic Feature: An ESRI shapefile comprised of the multiple physical files that make up a logical shapefile. There are a minimum of three shapefile component files required for a geographic shapefile:, .dbf, .shp, .shx.  Other shapefile component files (.cpg, .prj, .sbn, .sbx, .xml, .fbn, .fbx, .ain, .aih, .atx, .ixs, .mxs) should also be added where available..
  • Geographic Raster: A GDAL VRT assembly of ".tif" files and associated .vrt file.
  • Multidimensional: A NetCDF file (.nc extension).
  • Time Series: A SQLite file (.sqlite extension).
  • Referenced Time Series: A .refts JSON file.
  • File set: Any folder containing content that should be logically grouped together.

Using Content Type Aggregations in Composite Resources

When files are added to HydroShare, if, based on their file extension, they are recognized as belonging to a supported content type they are automatically converted to a HydroShare content type, and where possible metadata is extracted from the content files and displayed in the Content Metadata Section on the resource landing page. If not already in a folder, files for content types that involve multiple files are moved into a folder. There are also right click menu options to remove or add content type associations.  To associate metadata with a single file not automatically converted to a content type, right click and add metadata to file.  To associate metadata with a folder, right click and add metadata.


You can create folders and use these to hold and organize your files and content type objects as you wish.  Note, however, that folders created by Hydroshare to hold specific content types (e.g., a shapefile containing multiple files) cannot be changed nor can files be added or deleted to these folders.

Resource Level Metadata

Some content types hold metadata that can also be held at the resource level.  This consists of title, abstract, authors, contributors, subject keyword and coverage information. In cases where this metadata is encountered and it is meaningful to use at the resource level, it is added or appended.  Title and abstract are only added if they have not been already added. Authors, contributors and subject keywords are appended to resource level information. There are buttons “Set spatial coverage from content files” and “Set temporal range from content files” to control the inheritance of resource level coverage from member content types.

Content level metadata.

Content level metadata is displayed in a panel to the right of the contents file area in the resource landing page. To add to or edit content metadata:

  1. Ensure you are in edit mode by clicking on the pencil icon at the top right of the resource page
  2. Navigate to the Content section
  3. Click to highlight the content type in the Content section to edit
  4. Metadata should be displayed in the panel on the right. 
  5. In the Metadata panel, fill in or edit existing metadata.

If the information in the Metadata panel does not appear editable check that you are in edit mode.  If the Metadata panel indicates “No file type metadata exists for this file.” you may have selected a file that cannot hold content metadata, such as a member file of an existing content type, or single file or folder not set as a content type.  For single files or folders where you want to add metadata, you should right click to add metadata, before adding/editing content in the Metadata panel.