Best way to leverage metadata for File Uploads

@matt.riley Could you share thoughts and/or tips on how to automatically apply metadata to file uploads done through the “File Request” feature? The use case is wanting file request uploaders to upload specific types of documents in each separate upload field and to automatically apply a metadata label to the upload done in that field.

For example, a File Request form with a Diploma field and a Resume field, upon upload / completion of the File Request those uploads would be tagged in metadata as diploma and resume, respectively. Thus later we could search by metadata for diploma and get all diploma uploads but not resumes, and vice-versa.

As a side note, I find metadata in Box confusing because of the requirement to create a “template” which is unusual compared to other tools where one can just create and define metadata independently.

Hi @doc2doc, welcome to the Developer Community!

The File Request feature is folder based and currently limited to one template per File Request page. What that means from a practical perspective is that you’d need s separate file request for each “type” of file (diploma, resume, etc…) so that the metadata could be applied as you described. As for applying it, you can use the File Request fields directly, you can use folder-level cascading metadata, or you could tie the File Request into a Relay workflow for some additional options.

Thanks for your feedback about metadata in Box, too! We have a few methods of applying metadata, and you’re correct that it’s primarily template based. We do also have the option of just applying “custom metadata”, which I sometimes refer to as “ad-hoc” metadata that doesn’t require a template. It’s just a free-form key/value pair. This allows for some additional flexibility, but can’t be the target of a Metadata Query API call. It does get searched though, so if your use case allows for it, you could use the Search bar in the Box web app or the Search API to retrieve those files. Here’s a screenshot of the Custom Metadata option being set (I’ve set one field and am creating a second):

We’re continually striving to improve the overall experience with Metadata, so if you have specific ideas or use cases that you can’t solve today, please submit those to Box Pulse!

That’s too bad. My takeaway from your answer then is it is that metadata is very limited as it cannot support more than one file at a time. I hope it’s clear that asking a user to submit a different file request for each file we want from them is untenable from a UI/UX perspective.

Certainly asking someone to submit multiple files without some flow orchestration is not a reasonable UI/UX model. I’ve seen things built in the past where a user was guided page by page and asked for supplemental information at each step, and those were effective, but of course required additional development…not just using the File Request UI.

I would also agree that supporting a single template and folder in the File Request feature does limit the use cases it can be applied to. I’ve spoken with the team internally here that’s responsible for that particular feature and passed along your feedback.