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Fedora Futures Kicks Off at CNI

A group of Fedora Futures team members in Washington, DC

Winchester, MA The Coalition of Networked Information 2012 Fall Meeting held in Washington D.C. Dec. 10-11 was the setting for a session that introduced an exciting community initiative–Fedora Futures. The room was packed with about 75 interested attendees. Many were current Fedora users who were there to find out how the popular 12-year-old software would evolve into a next generation repository platform.

Jonathan Markow, DuraSpace, explained that as direct grant funding for Fedora development diminished, DuraSpace took on a stewardship role in organizing the community around maintaining and improving the software. While this strategy enabled several significant releases, the user community was left wondering why larger and more fundamental development issues were not being addressed. The simple answer is that available funding was not enough to pay for needed improvements. As a result the core Fedora code has become more difficult to maintain and cannot keep up with emerging current technical requirements.

 The Fedora Futures group came together in the last 5 months to undertake a 2-3 year software development project that will direct new resources toward a major Fedora overhaul that will make Fedora the repository platform of choice for the future.

Eddie Shin, Media Shelf, is leading the Technology Team effort to define the project. Media Shelf has been a large contributor to the Fedora code base. 

Mark Leggott, UPEI and Islandora, explained that Fedora Futures development would begin with two stages. Use cases will be gathered and details of a roadmap will be developed with approval by the Steering Committee. The Technology Team will take the lead in coordination with other standing committers. Raising funds to support the project will be led by a committee chaired by Jonathan Markow from DuraSpace.

Tom Cramer, Stanford, adopted Fedora in 2009 and is looking to establish a digital repository platform that works "for all of us" for the next 5-10 years. Fedora must work for the full range of institutions, be part of an ecosystem, be able to "go native" in the world of linked data, support existing IRs and provide new data management functions.

In taking a look at Fedora use case actors–those types of individuals who would interact with the software–Matthias Razum asserted that there are four key roles: Curator, Administrator, Researcher and Developer. High level technical requirements that would be significant to all actors are:

improved scalability and performance
more flexible storage options
support for dynamic metadata
globally unique and reliable identifiers
improved audit trail/capturing events--single point of management for all storage systems.
Another key objective is to develop a straightforward and fun-to-use API that keeps developers happy and attracts new developers.

Eddie Shin believes "agile is not a sufficient condition for success." In working with developers and the Steering Committee he will establish a lean methodology, evidence of continuity and growth, frequent product releases, and regular short-term deliverables as the project evolves.

Jonathan Markow ended the presentation with a summary of how institutions can support the effort and help to guide the project. Several organizations are contributing developer resources as well as funds that will be needed to hire a technology lead and a project director over the duration of the project. A prospectus is available to those who would like to get involved as contributors to this effort by contacting Jonathan Markow>. Project contributors may join a project advisory committee which will provide regular input on the project's direction.

The prospectus is available here: Fedora Futures Prospectus. More information about Fedora Futures may be found here:

Slides from the Fedora Futures session at the 2012 CNI Fall Member Meeting may be viewed on SlideShare: