Fedora plus Sakai: A view from 30,000 feet

Please note: the living, editable version of this document is now on Sakai’s Confluence in the “Resources” project area.

Edited by Peter Murray, OhioLINK. This document represents a summary of comments on the Sakai Developers mailing list on April 26-28, 2006 to a question posted by this document’s editor regarding possible integration points between Fedora and Sakai. The resulting threads were:

OhioLINK’s Google Summer of Code ideas

Student applications for the Google Summer of Code program are being accepted starting on May 1st. In preparation for that date, OhioLINK has finished up its list of ideas and other supporting documentation. We welcome student applications seeking to further the development of information technology in academic libraries in Ohio and around the world. Questions about the program? Take a look at Google’s participant FAQ. Questions about the suggested projects or about OhioLINK? Contact Peter Murray.

OhioLINK-generated Ideas

This is the list of project ideas so far. Please take a look at the project ideas page on the DRC-Dev wiki for updates.

OhioLINK Selects the Affero License for DRC Development

Selecting an open source license was really much harder than I thought it would be. The OhioLINK executive director and I talked for about 90 minutes over the course of yesterday afternoon to reach a conclusion. The factors driving our decision where:

  • A license that promoted the “open source” availability of our code
  • A license that sought to ensure balance between our desire as an “upstream” provider of the source code to add enhancements to the base source code with the desire of any potential commercial entity to “add value” by providing a level of support for the DRC application that we cannot provide

Fedora plus Sakai — not quite that easy

In previous post I described to how easy it would be for Fedora to be integrated into Sakai and offered as reference the Entity.java interface as evidence. Well, it isn’t quite that easy. Two big clues:

  1. It is in the “legacy” part of the source code tree; and
  2. The interface has only getters (no setters).

Pretty damning evidence.

I still haven’t figured it all out yet, but there is this commentary in a document from last month with the title “The Sakai Framework: Proposal for Reorganization“:

Entity Bus

Fedora plus Sakai — a marriage made in heaven?

Note — there was a follow-up to this post.

What happens when you mix two Mellon-funded projects? Perhaps a nice bit of what they call synergy. The thinking goes something like this…


“The Sakai Project is a community source software development effort to design, build and deploy a new Collaboration and Learning Environment (CLE) for higher education. … The Sakai Project’s primary goal is to deliver the Sakai application framework and associated CMS tools and components that are designed to work together. These components are for course management, and, as an augmentation of the original CMS model, they also support research collaboration. The software is being designed to be competitive with the best CMSs available.”1

Why Fedora? Because You Don’t Need Fedora

I’m often asked “Why is OhioLINK using FEDORA?”  (Just to eliminate any confusion at the start, I’m referring to the FEDORA Digital Object Repository, a project of Cornell’s computer science department and the University of Virginia Libraries, and not the Linux operating system distribution by Redhat.)  There are many reasons, but I was reminded of one recently while reading through the migration documentation for the 2.1.1 release that came out today.

In case of corruption or failure of the repository, the Fedora Rebuild utility can completely rebuild the repository by crawling the digital object XML source files that are stored on disk.

Resources for Describing Visual Materials

A recent thread on describing visual materials from the IMAGELIB mailing list sparked the descovery of these resources.

First was this bibliography of thesauri-related materials by Leonard Will of Willpower Information, an information management consultant in the U.K. It looks like a really good synopsis, and will be useful when adding controlled vocabularies to the DRC through MetaBuddy and other tools.

Berkeley’s “bSpace Images” project

Word of this Fedora-based image collection tool comes from the Sakai Library & Repositiories discussion group [Sakai Collab account required].

Project Name & Description (Short)

bSpace Images Version 1.0
The initial version of bSpace Images will focus on personal collections and provide “baseline” functionality found in existing tools like Course Gallery, ARTstor, Luna Insight, Portfolio, and Spiro. Through a user centered design process, bSpace Images features will be driven by faculty observations and interviews. Unlike the other campus offerings, its interface design will be based on the faculty’s real needs.

To BPEL or not to BPEL, quite a good question

OhioLINK is actively looking at BPEL as an option for workflow orchestration for the DRC project. I was asked recently about that choice, especially in light of a preliminary report from another team looking to use Fedora in a manner similar to the DRC. The preliminary report has not been published (I’ll update this posting when it is), and the organization involved is intentionally not mentioned here. Their questions, though, do allow for an opportunity to explain some of my own thinking on the topic.

Alternate (Open) Peer Review Model

At some point the DRC will need a generalized peer review system.  Although I’m not sure we will use OAI-PMH to shepherd the results around various systems, there are som good ideas here about how to create an open peer review system.

The Convergence of Digital-Libraries and the Peer-Review Process
Authors: Marko A. Rodriguez, Johan Bollen, Herbert Van de Sompel
Journal of Information Science [in press]