Fedora—A Repository for the Future: New Fedora Initiative Underway

Wed, 2013-01-09 11:23 -- carol

A group of stakeholders from the Fedora community have come together to begin the process of planning a three year software development project that will direct new resources toward a major Fedora overhaul, adding capabilities that will make Fedora the repository platform of choice for the future.  The group anticipates that improvements will include features such as greater scalability, data management support, storage flexibility, and others the community has been requesting. This new initiative is being called Fedora Futures.

The Coalition of Networked Information 2012 Fall Meeting held in Washington D.C. Dec. 10-11 was the setting for a session that introduced the Fedora Futures community initiative. Members of Fedora Futures announced the project and led a discussion on the future of the Fedora Repository that included a review of the current state of Fedora, the proponents and objectives of the Futures initiative, and a review on the use cases, stakeholders, high level requirements and processes which are guiding the project.  The group is now seeking broader community input and will be reaching out to current DuraSpace sponsors and others in the near future.  The discussion was standing room only, with 75 interested attendees packed into the venue. The presentation is available on the Fedora Futures wiki: https://wiki.duraspace.org/display/FF/Fedora+Futures+Home.



The discussion at CNI revolved around one central question, posed by Mark Leggott, University Librarian at Prince Edward Island and chair of the Fedora Futures Steering Group: “Given the success and value of Fedora as an open source, digital repository over the last 12 years, how can the community marshal an effort to enhance the platform in order to meet the known and emerging needs and opportunities in the repository arena?”

“Fedora has a worldwide community of adopters, and has proven itself as flexible, extensible and durable architecture,” said Tom Cramer, Chief Technology Strategist at Stanford University. He added, “for the Futures project, our objectives are to preserve these strengths, while increasing its performance, scalability and modularity, and reducing its complexity at the same time.” Another primary objective is to expand the pool of developers actively committing to the project.

Matthias Razum, head of EScience from FIZ Karlsruhe, presented the use cases and stakeholder profiles that are guiding the new wave of development. These include managing research and heterogeneous data more efficiently; improving administrability of the repository, and interacting with the linked data and the semantic web. Per Razum, “Our targeted actors are not just administrators and developers, but also curators and researchers; the repository of the future has to serve needs across the whole information lifecycle.”

Eddie Shin of MediaShelf LLC and a longtime Fedora committer, was introduced as the project’s interim Product Manager. Shin reviewed the technical and development approach that the project group is undertaking. “We plan to provide next generation repository while ensuring a smooth upgrade path for existing institutions. We’ll do this through a lean development methodology, with rapid development and continuous release of functionality produced in short iterations.” 

The Fedora Futures initiative is being seeded by a coalition of institutions that are all keenly interested in seeing Fedora adapt to meet today’s and tomorrow’s needs for a robust repository platform. Working hand-in-glove with DuraSpace, the founding members of the initiative are Columbia University, FIZ Karlsruhe, MediaShelf LLC, Oxford University, the Smithsonian Institute, Stanford University, University of Prince Edward Island, and the University of Virginia. Each of these institutions has committed to contributing significant financial and/or personnel to the redevelopment effort. 

Jonathan Markow, Chief Strategy Officer at DuraSpace, extended an invitation to the entire Fedora community to participate in the effort. “The Futures group has catalyzed renewed development for Fedora, but for the effort to achieve its full potential for all stakeholders, we need to enlist not only Fedora’s current committers, but also all adopters, sponsors and service providers.” A prospectus is available to those who would like to get involved as contributors to this effort by contacting Jonathan Markow jjmarkow@duraspace.org>.  University of Virginia, Discovery Garden and University of Prince Edward Island, Stanford University, Columbia University, Oxford University’s Bodleian Library, FIZ Karlsruhe, and MediaShelf have already pledged substantial resources to the project.

Questions about the technical direction of the project or offers of development support can be made to Edwin Shin Edwin.Shin@yourmediashelf.com>

MORE INFORMATION

 

• A Fedora Futures prospectus is available here: Fedora Futures Prospectus

• The Fedora Futures wiki: https://wiki.duraspace.org/display/FF/Fedora+Futures+Home

• Slides from the Fedora Futures session at the 2012 CNI Fall Member Meeting: http://www.slideshare.net/Tom-Cramer/fedora-futures-cni-2012

• "Fedora Futures Kicks Off at CNI" blog post: http://duraspace.org/fedora-futures-kicks-cni

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