What is DSpace REST API

The REST API module provides a programmatic interface to DSpace Communities, Collections, Items, and Bitstreams.

DSpace 4 introduced the initial REST API, which did not allow for authentication, and provided only READ-ONLY access to publicly accessible Communities, Collections, Items, and Bitstreams. DSpace 5 builds off of this and allows authentication to access restricted content, as well as allowing Create, Edit and Delete on the DSpace Objects. DSpace 5 REST API also provides improved pagination over resources and searching. There has been a minor drift between the DSpace 4 REST API and the DSpace 5 REST API, so client applications will need to be targeted per version.

Installing the REST API

The REST API deploys as a standard webapp for your servlet container / tomcat. For example, depending on how you deploy webapps, one way would be to alter tomcat-home/conf/server.xml and add:

<Context path="/rest"  docBase="/dspace/webapps/rest" />

In DSpace 4, the initial/official Jersey-based REST API was added to DSpace. The DSpace 4 REST API provides READ-ONLY access to DSpace Objects.

In DSpace 5, the REST API adds authentication, allows Creation, Update, and Delete to objects, can access restricted materials if authorized, and it requires SSL.

Disabling SSL

For localhost development purposes, SSL can add additional getting-started difficulty, so security can be disabled. To disable DSpace REST's requirement to require security/ssl, alter [dspace]/webapps/rest/WEB-INF/web.xml or [dspace-source]/dspace-rest/src/main/webapp/WEB-INF/web.xml and comment out the <security-constraint> block, and restart your servlet container. Production usages of the REST API should use SSL, as authentication credentials should not go over the internet unencrypted.

REST Endpoints

The REST API is modeled after the DSpace Objects of Communities, Collections, Items, and Bitstreams. The API is not a straight database schema dump of these entities, but provides some wrapping that makes it easy to follow relationships in the API output.

Note: You must set your request header's "Accept" property to either JSON (application/json) or XML (application/xml) depending on the format you prefer to work with. 

Example usage from command line in XML format with pretty printing:

curl -s -H "Accept: application/xml" http://localhost:8080/rest/communities | xmllint --format - 

Example usage from command line in JSON format with pretty printing:

curl -s -H "Accept: application/json" http://localhost:8080/rest/communities | python -m json.tool

For this documentation, we will assume that the URL to the "REST" webapp will be http://localhost:8080/rest/ for production systems, this address will be slightly different, such as: https://demo.dspace.org/rest/. The path to an endpoint, will go after the /rest/, such as /rest/communities, all-together this is: http://localhost:8080/rest/communities

Another thing to note is that there are Query Parameters that you can tack on to the end of an endpoint to do extra things. The most commonly used one in this API is "?expand". Instead of every API call defaulting to giving you every possible piece of information about it, it only gives a most commonly used set by default and gives the more "expensive" information when you deliberately request it. Each endpoint will provide a list of available expands in the output, but for getting started, you can start with ?expand=all, to make the endpoint provide all of its information (parent objects, metadata, child objects). You can include multiple expands, such as: ?expand=collections,subCommunities .


DSpace 6.x supports pagination by allowing two query parameters: limit and offset. Note however that the aggregate results number is not supplied (see DS-3887). Endpoints which return arrays of objects, such as /communities, /collections or /items, are "paginated":  the full list is broken into "pages" which start at offset from the beginning of the list and contain at most limit elements.  By repeated queries you can retrieve any portion of the array or all of it.  The default value of offset  is 0 and the default value of limit is 100.  So, as an example, to retrieve the sixth through tenth elements of the full list of Collections, you could do this:

curl -s -H "Accept: application/json" http://localhost:8080/rest/collections?offset=5\&limit=5

Index / Authentication

REST API Authentication has changed in DSpace 6.x.  It now uses a JSESSIONID cookie (see below).  The previous (5.x) authentication scheme using a rest-dspace-token is no longer supported.


REST API static documentation page listing available endpoints and their function.




Login to the REST API using a DSpace EPerson (user). It returns a JSESSIONID cookie, that can be used for future authenticated requests.

Example Request:

# Can use either POST or GET (POST recommended). Must pass the parameters "email" and "password".
curl -v -X POST --data "email=admin@dspace.org&password=mypass" https://dspace.myu.edu/rest/login

Example Response:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Set-Cookie: JSESSIONID=6B98CF8648BCE57DCD99689FE77CB1B8; Path=/rest/; Secure; HttpOnly

Example of using JSESSIONID cookie for subsequent (authenticated) requests:

curl -v --cookie "JSESSIONID=6B98CF8648BCE57DCD99689FE77CB1B8" https://dspace.myu.edu/rest/status
# This should return <authenticated>true</authenticated>, and information about the authenticated user session

Invalid email/password combinations will receive an HTTP 401 Unauthorized response.

Please note, special characters need to be HTTP URL encoded.
For example, an email address like dspacedemo+admin@gmail.com (notice the + special character) would need to be encoded as dspacedemo%2Badmin@gmail.com.


Login to the REST API using Shibboleth authentication. In order to work, this requires additional Apache configuration. To authenticate, execute the following steps:

1. Call the REST Shibboleth login point with a Cookie jar:

curl -v -L -c cookiejar "https://dspace.myu.edu/rest/shibboleth-login"

2. This should take you again to the IdP login page. You can submit this form using curl using the same cookie jar. However this is IdP dependant so we cannot provide an example here.

3. Once you submit the form using curl, you should be taken back to the /rest/shibboleth-login URL which will return you the JSESSIONID.

4. Using that JSESSIONID, check if you have authenticated successfully:

curl -v "http://localhost:8080/dspace-rest/status" --cookie "JSESSIONID=0633C6379266A283E53F65DF8EF61AB9"


Logout from the REST API, by providing a JSESSIONID cookie. After being posted this cookie will no longer work.

Example Request:

curl -v -X POST --cookie "JSESSIONID=6B98CF8648BCE57DCD99689FE77CB1B8" https://dspace.myu.edu/rest/logout

After posting a logout request, cookie is invalidated and the "/status" path should show you as unauthenticated (even when passing that same cookie). For example:

curl -v --cookie "JSESSIONID=6B98CF8648BCE57DCD99689FE77CB1B8" https://dspace.myu.edu/rest/status
# This should show <authenticated>false</authenticated>

Invalid token will result in HTTP 400 Invalid Request


Returns string "REST api is running", for testing that the API is up.

Example Request:

curl https://demo.dspace.org/rest/test


Example Response:

REST api is running.


Receive information about the currently authenticated user token, or the API itself (e.g. version information).

Example Request (XML by default):

curl -v --cookie "JSESSIONID=6B98CF8648BCE57DCD99689FE77CB1B8" https://demo.dspace.org/rest/status


Example Request (JSON):

curl -v -H "Accept: application/json" --cookie "JSESSIONID=6B98CF8648BCE57DCD99689FE77CB1B8" https://demo.dspace.org/rest/status

Example JSON Response:

  "fullname":"DSpace Administrator",

Shibboleth Apache configuration for the REST API

Before Shibboleth authentication for the REST API will work, you need to secure the /rest/shibboleth-login endpoint. Add this configuration section to your Apache HTTPD Shibboleth configuration:

<Location "/rest/shibboleth-login">
         AuthType shibboleth
         ShibRequireSession On
         # Please note that setting ShibUseHeaders to "On" is a potential security risk. 
         # You may wish to set it to "Off". See the mod_shib docs for details about this setting:
         # https://wiki.shibboleth.net/confluence/display/SHIB2/NativeSPApacheConfig#NativeSPApacheConfig-AuthConfigOptions
         # Here's a good guide to configuring Apache + Tomcat when this setting is "Off": 
         # https://www.switch.ch/de/aai/support/serviceproviders/sp-access-rules.html#javaapplications
         ShibUseHeaders On
         require valid-user

You can test your configuration in 3 different ways:

  1. Using a web browser:
    1. Go to https://dspace.myu.edu/rest/shibboleth-login, this should redirect you to the login page of your IdP if you don't have a Shibboleth session yet.
    2. Enter your test credentials and this should take you back to the /rest/shibboleth-login URL. You should then see a blank page but in the response headers, the JSESSIONID cookie should be present.
    3. Then go to /rest/status and you should see information on the current authenticated ePerson.
  2. Using curl without a Shibboleth Session
    1. Call the REST Shibboleth login point with a Cookie jar: 

      curl -v -L -c cookiejar "https://dspace.myu.edu/rest/shibboleth-login"

    2. This should take you again to the IdP login page. You can submit this form using curl using the same cookie jar. However this is IdP dependant so I cannot provide an example here.
    3. Once you submit the form using curl, you should be taken back to the /rest/shibboleth-login URL which will return you the JSESSIONID.
    4. Using that JSESSIONID, check if you have authenticated successfully: 

      curl -v "https://dspace.myu.edu/dspace-rest/status" --cookie "JSESSIONID=0633C6379266A283E53F65DF8EF61AB9"

  3. Using curl with a Shibboleth Session (cookie)
    1. When you post the Shibboleth login form, the Shibboleth daemon on the DSpace server also returns you a Shibboleth Cookie. This cookie looks like _shibsession_64656661756c74687... You can also grab this cookie from your browser.
    2. Double check that the cookie you took is valid:

      curl -v 'https://dspace-url/Shibboleth.sso/Session' -H 'Cookie: _shibsession_64656661756c7468747470733a2f2f7265706f7369746f72792e636172646966666d65742e61632e756b2f73686962626f6c657468=_a8d3ad20d8b655250c7357f7ac0e2910;'

    3. This should give you information if the Shibboleth session is valid and on the number of attributes. 
    4. Use this cookie to obtain a Tomcat JSESSIONID:

      curl -v 'https://dspace-url/rest/shibboleth-login' -H 'Cookie: _shibsession_64656661756c7468747470733a2f2f7265706f7369746f72792e636172646966666d65742e61632e756b2f73686962626f6c657468=_a8d3ad20d8b655250c7357f7ac0e2910;'

    5. Use the returned JSESSIONID to check if you have authenticated successfully:

      curl -v "http://dspace-url/rest/status" --cookie "JSESSIONID=0633C6379266A283E53F65DF8EF61AB9"


Communities in DSpace are used for organization and hierarchy, and are containers that hold sub-Communities and Collections (ex: Department of Engineering).

For an alternative way to create a Community/Collection hierarchy to the REST API take a look at Importing Community and Collection Hierarchy.

HTTP methodREST endpointDescription

Return an array of all the communities in the repository. The results are paginated.




Return an array of all top-level communities. The results are paginated.



GET/communities/{community id}

Return the specified community.



GET/communities/{community id}/collectionsReturn an array of collections of the specified community. The results are paginated.
GET/communities/{community id}/communitiesReturn an array of sub-communities of the specified community. The results are paginated
POST/communitiesCreate a new community at top level. You must post a community object data type.
POST/communities/{community id}/collectionsCreate a new collections in the specified community. You must post collection object data type.
POST/communities/{community id}/communitiesCreate a new sub-community in the specified community. You must post a community object data type.
PUT/communities/{community id}Update the specified community. You must put community object data type.
DELETE/communities/{community id}Delete the specified community.
DELETE/communities/{community id}/collections/{collection id}Delete the specified collection in the specified community.
DELETE/communities/{community id}/communities/{sub-community id}Delete the specified sub-community in the specified community.


Collections in DSpace are containers of Items. (ex: Engineering Faculty Publications).

For an alternative way to create a Community/Collection hierarchy to the REST API take a look at Importing Community and Collection Hierarchy.

HTTP methodREST endpointDescription
GET/collectionsReturn an array of all the collections in the repository. The results are paginated.
GET/collections/{collection id}Return the specified collection.
GET/collections/{collection id}/itemsReturn an array all items of the specified collection. The results are paginated.
POST/collections/{collection id}/itemsCreate an item in the specified collection. You must post an item object data type.
POST/collections/find-collectionFind collection by passed name. Returns the first exact match or nothing.
PUT/collections/{collection id}Update the specified collection. You must put a collection object data type.
DELETE/collections/{collection id}Delete the specified collection.
DELETE/collections/{collection id}/items/{item id}Delete the specified item in the specified collection.


Items in DSpace represent a "work" and combine metadata and files, known as Bitstreams.

HTTP methodREST endpointDescription

Return an array of all the items in the repository. The results are paginated.



GET/items/{item id}Return the specified item.
GET/items/{item id}/metadataReturn metadata of the specified item.
GET/items/{item id}/bitstreamsReturn an array of all the bitstreams of the specified item. The results are paginated.
POST/items/find-by-metadata-fieldFind items by metadata entry. You must post a metadataentry object data type.
POST/items/{item id}/metadataAdd metadata to the specified item. You must post an array of metadataentry object data type.
POST/GET/items/{item id}/bitstreams?name={file name}

Add bitstream to the specified item. You must post the file data and include the name parameter with the value as {file name} in the URL posted to.

Optional query parameters:

description: A description of the bitstream.

groupId: Id of group to set item resource policy to.

year: Year to set embargo date to

month: Month to set embargo date to

day: Day of month to set embargo date to


/items/{item id}/bitstreams?name=The%20Children%27s%20Crusade%3A%20A%20Duty-Dance%20with%20Death.pdf&description=All%20this%20happened%2C%20more%20or%20less.&groupID=1969&year=2045&month=2&day=13

PUT/items/{item id}/metadataUpdate metadata in the specified item. You must put a metadataentry object data type.

Each metadata entry that will replace all prior matching metadata entries, i.e. if you submit n 'dc.subject' entries all pre-existing 'dc.subject' entries in the item will be deleted and replaced with the n entries
DELETE/items/{item id}Delete the specified item.
DELETE/items/{item id}/metadataClear the metadata of the specified item.
DELETE/items/{item id}/bitstreams/{bitstream id}Delete the specified bitstream of the specified bitstream.


Bitstreams are files. They have a filename, size (in bytes), and a file format. Typically in DSpace, the Bitstream will the "full text" article, or some other media. Some files are the actual file that was uploaded (tagged with bundleName:ORIGINAL), others are DSpace-generated files that are derivatives or renditions, such as text-extraction, or thumbnails. You can download files/bitstreams. DSpace doesn't really limit the type of files that it takes in, so this could be PDF, JPG, audio, video, zip, or other. Also, the logo for a Collection or a Community, is also a Bitstream.

HTTP methodREST endpointDescription

Return an array of all the bitstreams in the repository. The results are paginated.



GET/bitstreams/{bitstream id}Return the specified bitstream.
GET/bitstreams/{bitstream id}/policyReturn bitstream policies.
GET/bitstreams/{bitstream id}/retrieveReturn data of bitstream.
POST/bitstreams/{bitstream id}/policyAdd policy to item. You must post a resourcepolicy object data type.
PUT/bitstreams/{bitstream id}/dataUpdate the data/file of the specified bitstream. You must put the data.
PUT/bitstreams/{bitstream id}Update metadata of the specified bitstream. You must put a Bitstream, does not alter the file/data.
DELETE/bitstreams/{bitstream id}Delete the specified bitstream.
DELETE/bitstreams/{bitstream id}/policy/{policy_id}Delete the specified resource policy of the specified bitstream.

You can access the parent object of a Bitstream (normally an Item, but possibly a Collection or Community when it is its logo) through: /bitstreams/:bitstreamID?expand=parent

As the documentation may state "You must post a ResourcePolicy" or some other object type, this means that there is a structure of data types, that your XML or JSON must be of type, when it is posted in the body.


In DSpace, Communities, Collections, and Items typically get minted a Handle Identifier. You can reference these objects in the REST API by their handle, as opposed to having to use the internal item-ID.

HTTP methodREST endpointDescription
GET/handle/{handle prefix}/{handle suffix}Returns a Community, Collection, or Item object that matches that handle.


Assembling a full representation of the community and collection hierarchy using the communities and collections endpoints can be inefficient. Retrieve a lightweight representation of the nested community and collection hierarchy.  Each node of the hierarchy contains minimal information (id, handle, name).

HTTP methodREST endpointDescription
GET/hierarchyRetrieve a lightweight representation of the nested community and collection hierarchy.

Schema and Metadata Field Registry

HTTP methodREST endpointDescription
GET/registries/schemaReturn an array of all the schema in the registry
GET/registries/schema/{schema prefix}Return the specified schema
GET/registries/schema/{schema prefix}/metadata-fields/{element}Return the metadata field within a schema with an unqualified element name
GET/registries/schema/{schema prefix}/metadata-fields/{element}/{qualifier}Return the metadata field within a schema with a qualified element name
GET/registries/metadata-fields/{field id}Add a schema to the schema registry
POST/registries/schema/Add a metadata field to the specified schema
POST/registries/schema/{schema_prefix}/metadata-fieldsReturn the specified metadata field
PUT/registries/metadata-fields/{field id}Update the specified metadata field
DELETE/registries/metadata-fields/{field id}Delete the specified metadata field from the metadata field registry
DELETE/registries/schema/{schema id}Delete the specified schema from the schema registry

Note: since the schema object contains no data fields, the following method has not been implemented: PUT /registries/schema/{schema_id}

Report Tools

Reporting Tools that allow a repository manager to audit a collection for metadata consistency and bitstream consistency.  See REST Based Quality Control Reports for more information or test the Collection Report Tool or Metadata Query Tool on demo.dspace.org.

HTTP methodREST endpointDescription
GET/reportsReturn a list of report tools built on the rest api
GET/reports/{nickname}Return a redirect to a specific report
GET/filtersReturn a list of use case filters available for quality control reporting
GET/filtered-collectionsReturn collections and item counts based on pre-defined filters
GET/filtered-collections/{collection_id}Return items and item counts for a collection based on pre-defined filters
GET/filtered-itemsRetrieve a set of items based on a metadata query and a set of filters

Model - Object data types

Here are all of the data types, not all fields are necessary or supported when posting/putting content, but the output contains this information:

Community Object

{ "id":456,
  "name":"Reports Community",
  "shortDescription":"Collection contains materials pertaining to the Able Family",

Collection Object

{ "id":730,
  "name":"Annual Reports Collection",

Item Object

{ "id":14301,
  "name":"2015 Annual Report",
  "lastModified":"2015-01-12 15:44:12.978",

Bitstream Object

{ "id":47166,
  "name":"appearance and physiology 100 percent copied from wikipedia.pdf",
  "format":"Adobe PDF",

ResourcePolicy Object

{ "id":317127,

MetadataEntry Object

{ "key":"dc.description.abstract",
  "value":"This is the description abstract",
  "language": null

User Object

{ "email":"test@dspace.org",

Status Object

{ "okay":true,
  "fullname":"DSpace Test User",

Introduction to Jersey for developers

The REST API for DSpace is implemented using Jersey, the reference implementation of the Java standard for building RESTful Web Services (JAX-RS 1). That means this API should be easier to expand and maintain than other API approaches, as this approach has been widely adopted in the industry. If this client documentation does not fully answer about how an endpoint works, it is helpful to look directly at the Java REST API code, to see how it is implemented. The code typically has required parameters, optional parameters, and indicates the type of data that will be responded.

There was no central ProviderRegistry that you have to declare your path. Instead, the code is driven by annotations, here is a list of annotations used in the code for CommunitiesResource.java:

Configuration for DSpace REST

Example Valuetrue
Informational NoteBoolean value indicates whether statistics should be recorded for access via the REST API; Defaults to 'false'.

Note that if the logging level (in the logging configuration) is set to DEBUG the REST API will output the entire transaction to the logs. In cases where changes are being made to metadata by automatic processes this can result in several gigabyte sized logs depending on the volume.

Recording Proxy Access by Tools

For the purpose of more accurate statistics, a web-based tool may specify who is using it, by adding parameters to the request:


If no parameters are given, the details of the HTTP request's sender are used in statistics. This enables tools to record the details of their user rather than themselves.

Additional Information

Additional information can be found in the README for dspace-rest, and in the GitHub Pull Request for DSpace REST (Jersey).

Usage examples can be found at: https://github.com/BrunoNZ/dspace-rest-requests