Tips, Limitations, and Workarounds


  • Decide on your audience, and share appropriately: If you want to share your template with the community for comment and wide adoption, begin sharing with the Everybody group at the earliest opportunity—even before you have added much. You are essentially advertising that you are working on this topic, and other people who want to work on it may join you.
  • Use our Shared folders: CEDAR has a Shared folder at the top level (under 'All'). You have permission to share your most significant contributions in the Shared by Anyone folder under it. Create an appropriately named folder under Shared by Anyone, and this will make it easy for others to navigate to your related documents.
  • Capture metadata in all the instances: Let's say you want to annotate all your templates with their author or provenance—but you don't want users to see that metadata in their forms. Using our 'hidden' feature, this is easy—create a text field, put the metadata you want to save into the Default Value field, and mark the field as HIDDEN using that tab. The JSON and RDF from any instances based on this template will contain your metadata, but users won't see it in the user interface.

Limitations and Workarounds

CEDAR doesn't do everything perfectly (yet!), so we offer here some issues that you may want to know about. If a workaround exists, or a plan to fix it soon, we tell you about it here.

This first list consists of issues we hope to improve as soon as we can, just as a matter of good user experience. We have captured issues for all of these; you can search for them in our Waffle agile tasks board. (Major features can be viewed at the Waffle features board.)

Be aware this document may be out of date as development proceeds. Last update: 22 August 2017

  • No undo exists. You'll have to use cancel rather than save if you accidentally delete something you need. Sorry!
  • CEDAR only uses BioPortal to look up concepts. Eventually we plan to make it access other repositories and/or single ontologies. Workaround: You can manually enter IRIs for terms and properties.
  • BioPortal accepts only OWL, RDF/XML, SKOS, and OBO Formats; and does not handle instances. (Exception: SKOS terms are instances, but BioPortal will use punning to declare these as classes, if they have a root class.) Workaround: Transform your vocabulary or instances into one of these formats.
  • No on-the-fly creation/editing of elements, or indentation of field or element collections, while making template. Workaround: Make your elements first.
  • There's no way to automatically update a template when elements in it are edited. Workaround: you have to delete the original element and re-add your new one, including restating any property relationship.
  • When searching for a class or property, CEDAR will search all of BioPortal when the window first opens, before you have a chance to narrow the search. Workaround: You can start editing the preferred ontology immediately (use the gear icon at the right of the field), and choose your ontology(ies) that you want to restrict your search to.
  • When entering metadata and choosing from a list of values, you don’t see any context information about those values.
  • When creating, opening, or working with very long templates, the system is slow, and doesn't show it is working. Workaround: Work in elements as much as you can, then merge into larger templates.
  • You've created a template, but now you want to extend it, and associate all the metadata for the original template with your new template. Not a workaround: We have no idea what will happen if you add, change, or delete fields in your original template, then re-open a metadata instance that was created with it. Might work, might lose some data, might break our system, we don't know and we're scared to find out the hard way. Workaround: Make a copy of your template, and make the changes to that. New users fill out the new metadata, and previous data will stay associated with the old template.
  • You want multiple profiles or extensions of a template, and for the system to know that the corresponding metadata is interoperable across all of those compatible templates. Like the previous one, this is an advanced feature that requires provenance, and versioning, of the artifacts. We hope to have it someday too.

Advanced Features

This list of 'limitations' includes those features that are more subtle, and perhaps useful to more limited audiences.

  • Can not set up template to let the metadata creator choose the property relation from a set of options based on ontology. (The goal here is to defer the selection of the property relation, to make it possible for a user's choice to determine that selection.)
  • Can not define the subject of a field, so that it can be semantically associated with other similar fields. (For example, the template creator can not say the field captures "Human age" using a controlled term.) We have removed this capability for now, as it is more about describing the template than the actual values within the entered metadata. But we hope to re-create it in the future.)
Last Updated: 
Sep 25 2020 - 11:15am