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Community Action Story: Developing a Future-forward DSpace User Interface

Austin, TX  Software, like fashion, can go out of style, or just simply not work to support modern interactions after a few years. In 2015 the DSpace Project made the decision to to develop a new, single user interface for DSpace to replace aging JSPUI and XMLUI interfaces. They reached out to the community-at-large for assistance by launching the “DSpace UI Prototype Challenge” to engage the distributed DSpace community in creating a modern, dynamic user interface that would position DSpace as the best future-facing institutional repository solution.

Selecting a single user interface technology and platform for DSpace has been an intense community process that has taken key requirements and operational factors into consideration over the last ten months. Contributors to the process have invested a great deal of thought and effort into ensuring that this UI solution is the best way forward for DSpace software and for the global community that relies on it.

Why is this choice so important to so many community stakeholders? Nearly 2000 DSpace repositories are in production at large and small research universities and institutions all over the world, and several Registered Service Providers work directly with institutional clients who use DSpace. Open access to significant scholarly resources and research data is available through many of these DSpace repositories. A modernized DSpace will help to ensure that the vital, diverse and growing corpus of DSpace repository content remains accessible into the future.

After detailed discussion and evaluation of nine UI prototypes along with public feedback, the UI Working Group drafted a detailed Summary:

Evaluation included working with the tech lead at Google Scholar to make sure that the UI would interoperate with the Google Scholar’s index to expose scholarly resource content.

DSpace user interface architecture selection has been narrowed down to two options:

  1. A Javascript-based, client-side solution using Spring Boot (for server-side components) and likely Angular 2 (for the client-side UI).  Two submitted prototypes (#4 and #7) featured client-side UI options.

  2. A Java-based, server-side solution based on Spring Boot. One prototype (#1) showed off a possible Spring Boot solution.

The UI Working Group is looking forward to announcing a final choice at the Eleventh International Open Repositories Conference to be held in Dublin, Ireland June 13-16 (registration open).

Implementation of a new DSpace UI will benefit the community in several ways:

• No duplication of effort. A unified, single user interface eliminates the redundant effort that is now required to maintain two separate, supported UIs.

• DSpace relies on a dedicated group of committers to maintain and advance the software. A modernized UI will help attract a new group of DSpace developers and contributors who are not necessarily java programmers.

• DSpace is out-of-the-box.  The new UI will maintain DSpace’s high value as an out-of-the-box institutional repository solution.

• Competitive edge. A modern, dynamic UI positions DSpace for the future to better serve and grow the already large and active global community of DSpace users and contributors.