At the Open Repositories 2010 conference, DuraSpace recommended that the DSpace community begin to work more closely with the Fedora community to allow DSpace software to run "on top of" the Fedora platform. Essentially, this would mean that the DSpace application would have an option to install it with "Fedora Inside". What follows is an initial FAQ around this proposal.
Please note that this FAQ is still an early draft – feedback and comments are welcome! Contact Tim Donohue (tdonohue <AT> duraspace <DOT> org) or Valorie Hollister (vhollister <AT> duraspace <DOT> org) if you have additions / changes you'd like to see in this FAQ.
DuraSpace recommends that the DSpace and Fedora communities investigate strategies to allow DSpace software to run "on top of" the Fedora platform. Essentially, this would mean that the DSpace application would have a new option to install it with "Fedora Inside".
DSpace with "Fedora Inside" would be a version of the DSpace application which can store its contents (files and/or metadata) in Fedora. The goal is to retain the out-of-the-box experience that is DSpace, while also enabling the extra features that Fedora provides (e.g. versioning, relationships between objects, flexible architecture).
We are looking for volunteers from either community to help make this concept a reality. This work will happen in stages, over several releases of DSpace software. DuraSpace is already volunteering some staff time to help make this happen.
The hope is that DSpace with "Fedora Inside" will enable DSpace to support extra features already provided by the Fedora platform. Some of these features may include:
That's just a small sample of Fedora features, and how they may eventually map into DSpace features. We hope that this integration will be advantageous to both platforms, and promote more sharing and collaboration between these communities.
The end result would be a family of packages that you would install together for the full DSpace experience. One of these packages would offer a Fedora-based storage layer. So, when you install DSpace, there would be an option to use Fedora as the storage layer for all files/metadata.
Essentially, DSpace will still retain very similar interfaces and workflows, but it will now have "Fedora Inside".
Yes. We are committed to maintaining the DSpace out-of-the-box experience. The end result of this integration may be an evolved version of DSpace (with new or slightly changed features), but it will still provide the same out-of-the-box institutional repository software.
To put it another way, the goals of DSpace software will not change. DSpace will continue to provide the same experiences you've come to expect. However, we hope the end result will provide even more useful features and will help to evolve the DSpace platform.
We feel this tighter integration between the two platforms will provide the following benefits:
Initially, the plan is that Fedora will be one of several storage layer options available. So, we anticipate that other storage options will still exist, and you could utilize DSpace without requiring that you use Fedora. Likely, in the future, Fedora will become the default storage layer.
Whether all storage layers support the same features is another question. It may be possible that only certain storage layers will be able to support certain features (like file versioning).
There is already work underway that may eventually enable an option to run the DSpace application on top of a Fedora repository. To achieve this would require a series of technological developments:
Not all of these steps need to be completed for some models of operation involving running DSpace and Fedora as distinct, cooperating applications.
DuraSpace cannot support this work on its own. That's why we are making a strategic recommendation that the DSpace and Fedora communities work towards tighter integration between the software platforms.
DuraSpace is committed to helping with strategic development work that serves to benefit this initiative. For example, we feel our current AIP Backup/Restore work will be beneficial when upgrading existing DSpace instances to an eventual DSpace with "Fedora Inside".
We currently don't have an exact timeframe for this work to be complete. We fully expect it will be spread out through several releases of DSpace software.
As stated, DuraSpace does not have the technical staff to do this work alone, nor would we want to. As with any open source development initiative, the commitment and support of the broader community will build a better 'end product', than if one institution were to implement it on their own. We are currently looking for DSpace and Fedora community volunteers to help make this initiative happen.
In fact, this work has already begun through various projects and initiatives over the last few years. This DuraSpace recommendation is just serving to formalize our support of this effort and broaden community interest in the endeavor. Although they've been mentioned elsewhere already, here are several ongoing and past projects which relate to this initiative:
No. We do not want this initiative to hinder the current development process. Upcoming releases of DSpace software will continue to include new features and resolve bugs/issues. Chances are much of the code changes coming out of this integration effort will be rolled out over several releases (initially many may be architectural, "under the hood" changes).
Think of this initiative as a separately organized project, whose end goal is better collaboration between our communities and better integration between the software. DSpace software itself will continue to improve and change as this effort goes along. We fully expect there to be several releases of DSpace software before we are able to release a DSpace with "Fedora Inside".
The best way to help out is to volunteer to lead or help with one (or more) of the development projects listed under the What are the Plans for Integrating the DSpace Application with the Fedora Repository Platform? question.
As you can tell, several initiatives have already begun. If you want to help out with one of the existing initiatives, contact the person(s) in charge or send an email to the dspace-devel listserv. If you'd like to lead a new initiative (which hasn't yet started), please announce your intentions on the dspace-devel listserv so that we can send other volunteers your way!
At this time, we are mostly looking for volunteer developers/architects. As the initiative gets further along, we will put out additional calls for volunteer testers, etc.
At this time, we don't know the complete answer.
To be clear, we fully expect there to be several releases of DSpace software before we are able to release a DSpace with "Fedora Inside". Most upcoming releases should have normal upgrade processes (similar to upgrading from 1.5 to 1.6). The only upgrade that may contain extra steps is when DSpace is first released with "Fedora Inside". Our intention is the make this upgrade as easy as possible and find common solutions that everyone in the community can utilize.
One of these common tools is the aforementioned AIP Backup/Restore work. This tool will provide you with a way to export all your DSpace contents (Communities/Collections/Items) into a series of AIPs (Archival Information Packages), and import or restore them to any DSpace instance. We hope that this tool could be used to ease the migration of your DSpace contents from the current DSpace data model into a Fedora-based data model.
We plan to build other common tools that will allow everyone to easily upgrade their DSpace when the time comes.
At this time, we don't know the complete answer.
To be clear, we fully expect there to be several releases of DSpace software before we are able to release a DSpace with "Fedora Inside". You will not need to install Fedora until DSpace is initially released with "Fedora Inside".
In the first few "Fedora Inside" releases, you may need to perform some basic steps to install or upgrade Fedora whenever you install or upgrade DSpace. However, the Fedora component should never be more difficult to manage than the existing relational database (PostgreSQL) component.
We anticipate that in the future we will be able to simplify this process. The final goal is to be able to install DSpace with "Fedora Inside" without too much effort (i.e. hopefully less than or equal to the effort required to install DSpace 1.6).
In the near term, all your customizations should continue to work (or require minor updates during upcoming releases). Again, we fully expect there to be several releases of DSpace software before we are able to release a DSpace with "Fedora Inside".
This initiative is actually an extension of the DSpace 2.0 investigation work that took place in 2009.
The goal of the DSpace 2 work was primarily to modularize DSpace, and Fedora as one of those modules just makes sense. The DSpace 2 work, along with related Google Summer of Code projects (in 2008 and 2009), has helped us to more closely realize how DSpace and Fedora could be integrated.