What is a glossary?

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A glossary is a list of terms, organized in a way to help users understand their data assets. For example, terms like "cost", "P&L", and "revenue" can be used to group and search all financial data assets.

Using familiar terminology helps people quickly understand the data and its background. This is a crucial element of data governance since it helps to bring business context into an organization's data initiatives.

In Atlan, glossary terms can be attached to any data asset and leveraged to power quick, easy data discovery.

Why do I need a glossary?

In today's diverse data teams, filled with people from different backgrounds and use cases, not all of us think about our data in the same way.

For example, one team might think a metric is showing an annualized rate but the actual rate is calculated quarterly; that could lead to some real confusion down the road. Defining data terms and sharing those definitions across your team will make a huge difference to data users at all levels of your organization.

In teams made up of data analysts, engineers, decision makers, and data scientists, having a shared language is an important step towards better collaboration. Building a glossary allows everyone on your team to define metrics, columns, and assets with the same meaning.

Highlights of the Atlan glossary

  • Powers search and makes it easier to discover data assets
  • Encourages the creation, maintenance, and enrichment of business and functional terms, due to their direct and visible use in searches
  • Allows organizations to crowdsource the task of attaching appropriate glossary terms to data assets
  • Supports automated metadata management through auto-glossary suggestions from the Atlan Bot πŸ€–

The anatomy of the Atlan glossary

Atlan gives users an option to build hierarchical glossaries. A glossary term is the lowest unit that can exist independently inside a glossary, and these terms can be grouped within categories.

πŸ’‘ Spotlight: This structure allows for glossaries from multiple domains.

Let's look at how terms and categories work together to build a glossary.

🏷️ Term

  • A term is the lowest unit that is unique inside each glossary.
  • It describes the content of the data assets in the most useful and precise way.
  • It can exist independently, without belonging to any particular category or sub-category.

πŸ’‘ Spotlight: A term can also be used on the Discover page to quickly filter data assets.

🏷️ Category

A category is a way of organizing terms. It can be used to group together similar terms.

✨ Pro Tip: You can also add sub-categories within your categories to give more context in your glossary.

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