Getting Started with CEDAR: Orientation for the CEDAR Workbench

This page for new CEDAR users describes how CEDAR helps with metadata, and how you can easily start using it.

How do I start?

If you're the experimenting type, just go to the CEDAR Workbench application at, create an account, and start playing with the system. If you can't see what templates are available to you, click on the Shared with Me link on the left side to find some. Most of CEDAR's features should be easy to see and use.

After you sign up you'll be registered in our cedar-announcements and cedar-users email lists, and you can send your questions and feature requests to the cedar-users list.

For a bit more help or introduction, you can go to the CEDAR Support and CEDAR Training pages, which have more information about how to use the system and how to get help. 

What CEDAR does

The CEDAR Workbench makes it easy to collect and use metadata. CEDAR tools help you create forms to collect metadata, make those forms available to users, and download or view the information that users have provided.

What can CEDAR do for me already?

CEDAR addresses these scenarios:CEDAR Login

  • create user-friendly, shareable forms for collecting metadata, with features like
    • nested and repeatable elements and fields
    • reusable elements
    • control over tool tips, field titles, and field descriptions
  • share your forms and metadata
    • provide a link to your metadata editors, so they can enter metadata responses based on your forms
    • share your forms and other content with individuals or a group
    • create and manage groups to make permissions simpler
  • associate your questions (fields) and possible answers (values) with controlled terms
    • select any term or collection of terms from the BioPortal semantic repository
    • combine different terms from different controlled vocabularies into a single set of options
    • create your own terms or term lists ('value sets') that can be re-used
  • view responses meeting your (simple) search criteria, in several forms
    • CEDAR Metadata Editor's metadata view
    • an in-line JSON-LD format, used by CEDAR for all its metadata instances
    • download of JSON-LD files via the CEDAR REST API, for offline integration with your workflow
  • use the Workbench Desktop interface to manage your content
    • use My Workspace to see your items, or Shared with Me to see other items you can access
    • select an item and control-click or use the 3-dot menu in the upper right to share it, copy it, delete it, or get info on it
  • enable intelligent metadata suggestions in your template by using a field's Suggestions tab 
    • CEDAR keeps track of metadata entered for that field
    • users will see a drop down list of the most popular metadata entries, and can select from them
  • remotely access CEDAR content and capabilities using the CEDAR REST API

With these capabilities, you can capture simple or rich metadata for your project, build a repository of project metadata, or design and prototype a new metadata specification to meet your particular needs. Advanced users can even submit metadata entries through CEDAR's REST API.

Best of all, CEDAR is built to be easy to work with from day 1. We think metadata shouldn't be hard, and we're building a system to prove it!

What's coming?

The CEDAR team has a lot of developments in the pipeline, and updates are released approximately quarterly. Previous enhancements included major features, like improved intelligent autocompletion and metadata authoring suggestions, publication of metadata to certain NCBI repositories, and including Common Data Elements from the National Cancer Institute's caDSR CDE repository. We are continually improving CEDAR's system's ease of use, help and training, and accessibility.

Last Updated: 
Apr 10 2023 - 11:55am