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Welcome to HatCheck: A Place to “Check Your Hat” and Learn More About Fedora Commons

By Sandy Payette, Executive Director, Fedora Commons

Welcome to the first issue of HatCheck, a quarterly newsletter published by Fedora Commons. Our goal is to make HatCheck a great place for news from our growing community, progress reports on our open-source software development, special features stories, and upcoming events. Kudos to Jim Blake for the double entendre embodied in our newsletter name!

For both newcomers and long-term users of our open source software, it’s always important to reflect on the significance of our “hat” origins. The Flexible, Extensible Digital Object Repository Architecture (Fedora) was designed at Cornell University in the late 1990s in anticipation of the need for a naturally evolving system (i.e., flexible and extensible) for managing and disseminating rich and heterogeneous digital content. From 2001-2007, the Fedora Project (Cornell and University of Virginia) embraced this design to create the internationally recognized open-source Fedora repository software that can be found at the core of many innovative systems including digital libraries, scientific and scholarly e-research platforms, digital archives, and more. From the Web perspective, the Fedora repository software is notable for its ability to provide a robust repository-based underpinning for web applications, including traditional Web apps, Web 2.0-style apps, and increasing Semantic Web-style apps.

In May 2007, with support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we established Fedora Commons as an independent non-profit organization. Fedora Commons now serves as the home base for continued innovative software development and new community organizing activities. Fedora Commons promotes the use of open-source software to support management and sharing of our most important digital assets, especially digital content that forms the record of our shared intellectual, scientific, and cultural knowledge. We address fundamental questions pertaining to access and management of digital content such as whether our information is enduring and re-usable.

We now invite you to contemplate our Fedora Commons motivations, and to join us in the process of expanding and enriching our software and our community to meet new and exciting challenges in the years to come.

To build our Fedora Commons community, we have created new Outreach and Communication functions under the leadership of Thorny Staples and Carol Minton Morris. The HatCheck newsletter is just one of many mechanisms we are working on to enable information exchange and collaboration within the Fedora Commons community. The uptake of the Fedora open source software is clearly accelerating, with a wide variety of institutions reporting installations of Fedora. With the startup of Fedora Commons, we have begun a systematic analysis of our existing user community. To share this information, we have started a community registry on the Fedora Commons wiki which can be accessed here. We are looking forward to hearing from more users since we have observed over 20,000 downloads of our software in the last 12 months.

We encourage you to register your organization in our community registry, and contact us directly to discuss your interest in being part of our community. Also, consider inspiring others with your work by showcasing your system or project in upcoming issues of HatCheck, or on our website.

From the software development perspective, we are creating new processes and tools to enable community developers to engage and collaborate with the Fedora Commons core team. These efforts are under the leadership of Dan Davis and Chris Wilper. We are currently in the process of finalizing our software development roadmap which will be published this month on the Fedora Commons website. The roadmap will be a living document that will communicate our software development plans as they evolve. The roadmap is created with input from the community, including strategic partners, community councils, and feedback from users like you.

We are also pleased to report on several new community collaborations that will help us evolve the Fedora Commons software in key solution areas. Among these new and notable strategic collaborations are:

- Johns Hopkins University and Cornell University, to focus on data curation

- Topaz and the Public Library of Science, to focus on open access publishing

- Mulgara, to focus on highly scalable semantic technologies

- Sun Microsystems, to focus on robust storage for preservation and archiving

- OAI Object Reuse and Exchange, to focus on re-use and interoperability

- FIZ Karlsruhe, focusing on scalability and benchmarking

We look forward to these collaborations and many other community-based software development activities. Also, stay tuned on the Fedora users and developers email lists for announcements about the roadmap, new collaboration tools, and improved documentation.

Links mentioned in this piece:

Web Site:

Our Mission:

Community Registry:

Email Lists: