By Thornton Staples, Fedora Commons Director of Community Strategy and Outreach
The Open Learning Exchange (OLE) aims to bring basic learning opportunities to school-aged children in over 100 countries that are currently lacking access. The OLE promotes public private partnerships in each of these countries, working with international programs like the One Laptop Per Child Project, to raise awareness, secure funding and provide the technical infrastructure to realize this mission. A central feature of each OLE site is the Billion Kids Library: a library that contains open and free basic whole-course education curricula appropriate for the elementary and secondary school teachers of that particular location.
OLE Nepal is a non-governmental organization dedicated to working with the government of Nepal to realize their “Education for All” goals by developing the on-line content and software tools for their Library to help teachers in that country reach all of the children. In May 2007, Nepal’s Minister of Education announced that the Ministry of Education would pilot the One Laptop Per Child project in several Nepali public schools in spring of 2008. The emphasis of OLE Nepal aims to build their first version of their library to support this pilot project. They will be concentrating on developing digital learning materials for grades two and six in English and mathematics. They will work closely with the government to provide these materials as they launch the One Laptop Per Child project in four schools by the end of 2008.
Inspired by the Encyclopedia of Chicago project, OLE Nepal is building prototype online services with Fedora using a variety of other open-source software. OLE uses Squeak, an open-source implementation of the Smalltalk programming language, and are looking into adapting Moodle, an open-source learning management system, as a way to deliver localized math and English learning activities from a central repository to teachers and students through a school server.
All items from DuraSpace Blog » 2008 » February
By Thornton Staples, Fedora Commons Director of Community Strategy and Outreach
By Dan Davis, Fedora Commons Chief Architect
The Fedora Commons engineering team has been hard at work preparing for both the Fedora 3.0 Beta 2 release in mid-March, and a maintenance release for Fedora 2.2.2 in early March. The team released Fedora 3.0 Beta 1 on December 21, 2007 introducing the first version of the Content Model Architecture (CMA). In many ways, the CMA will form the over-arching conceptual framework for future development of the Fedora Repository. Feedback from Beta 1 testers into Beta 2 is currently being incorporated, both for CMA and the other features introduced in the Beta release. Many thanks to the community for participating in testing.
An important new interface, the Fedora REST API, was incorporated as an experimental feature for Beta 1. Contributed by MediaShelf, the Fedora REST API will make it simpler for programmers who just want to use Web interfaces and languages like Ruby to build applications with Fedora. Please provide feedback on this experimental API to ensure that it has the right features before it becomes a Fedora Repository feature.
We have started a new project called Akubra with our Topaz teammates. The goal of Akubra is to provide a storage plug-in that supports transactions on common file systems plus the ability to provide a way to support multiple customized storage options at the same time. Starting Akubra was a result of realizing that a common need was found across multiple projects and working together was the best way to add to Fedora Common’s set of reusable components.
Fedora 3.0 Beta 2 introduces support for the Java Messaging System (JMS). The Fedora Repository will act as a publisher of API-M events using GSearch as the first message subscriber. Over time more features that enable Fedora to fit into large-scale enterprise installations while still supporting the rapid development of simple Web applications will be added. Keep in touch through the Fedora Commons users list at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Santa Clara, CA “Text” was common repository digital content during the last decade. Now repositories are being designed to manage many kinds of “data”—and lots of it. Companies and organizations need mass quantities of accurate and detailed information to enable fast analysis and trend-spotting. From satellite that transmit terabytes worth of astronomical and weather data, to financial and demographic data, managing data just became easier. The Sun StorageTek™ System with Fedora, also known as the Sun “Honeycomb,” combines the Fedora Commons open source software platform with the Sun StorageTek™ 5800 System to provide a pedabyte-scale object store that greatly simplifies the task of preserving massive amounts of data over long periods of time. The Sun Solution Brief entitled, “A New Approach to Creating and Managing Large-scale Digital Archives” (pdf (175 KB)) provides an overview that explains:
• the integrated solution with proven success for large-scale repostiories at well known institutions
• how to link millions of digital objects in Fedora with capacity to seamlessly scale to hundreds of terabytes with the Sun StorageTek 5800™ System
• the high data integrity through automatic block and file level checksums and distribution of file fragments across nodes to ensure no sincle point of failure
• extreme data protection with redundant design that allows multiple nodes and drives to fail without any resultant data loss
• reduced cost and complexity of managing and administering digital archives
An emulator for the Sun StorageTek 5800™ is included in the StorageTek 5800 SDK 1.1, which is available at http://www.sun.com/download/products.xml?id=465eed06.
Berlin, Germany Last month HatCheck spoke with Matt Zumwalt, MediaShelf—a company that works with businesses and organizations to create digital asset management solutions with Fedora—as he was settling into a flat in Berlin. Currently Matt is on what he calls a worldwide “Listening Tour.”
MZ: MZ: The Listening Tour is going really well. For my first formal interview, I spoke with Ari Davidow at the Jewish Women’s Archive on the last day of 2007. He’s actually the only librarian/archivist type who I’ve interviewed so far. I’ve been trying to talk directly with people who create content, since ultimately that is who a content repository needs to serve.
In addition to Ari, I’ve sat down with a Tibetan Lama in upstate New York and a photographer/performance artist in Minnesota. I’ve also got a couple of interviewees lined up here in Berlin, including an astronomer, an ethnographer, and the booking manager for a popular jazz session cafe. So far, the interviews have been really wonderful. I’ve already encountered things that forced me to reconsider a lot of assumptions about repositories.
I had originally planned to make little radio-style edits of the interviews and put them into a Listening Tour Podcast. That quickly got nixed when I discovered that creating a good podcast could easily become a full time job! I still hope to do that [podcast], but not for at least a few months. In the meantime, I’m writing up accounts for the MediaShelf Blog and accumulating the recordings in a home-grown Fedora repository.
I’m actually having a lot of fun archiving the interviews because the repository I’m creating is a little bit free-form and wild. It’s safe for me to try out new things and to think like an end-user instead of a repository architect. I can get away with just dumping objects in there with all sorts of haphazard metadata because the repository is mine to play with. This is actually where Fedora shines, because I’m able to make this messy repository now, and clean it up later. It’s all versioned, and it’s completely flexible. I’m learning a lot from this free-form tinkering, and will learn even more from cleaning up after the fact.
HatCheck: Another interesting project is the European Digital Library Project (EDL). The national libraries of many European nations including Belgium, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Norway, Spain and Sweden have come together to create a consolidated search portal. You attended a conference in Frankfurt that reported that initial content has been digitized. Is the search and browse experience geared towards ordinary European citizens?
MZ: With 200 digital archivists and librarians speaking candidly about their work, the EDL conference was a perfect stop on the listening tour. At the conference they unveiled a maquette of the portal’s user interface. You could see the influence of sites like YouTube, which makes sense because they’re trying to target everyday users. You could also see components that try to take advantage of the depth of formal metadata the EDL has at its disposal. I think the work they’re doing is really exciting. Europeana: Connecting Cultural Heritage will go online later this year.
Hatcheck: What happened at the workshop you led at The Bloomsbury Colleges consortiumlast month in London? As I understand it you took a roomful of Fedora users through a variety of hands-on topics such as setting up Fedora on Amazon Web Services (aka. Fedorazon), understanding the new RESTful API (which MediaShelf contributed to Fedora 3.0), and experimenting with Fedora’s new Content Model Architecture.
MZ: The whole Fedorazon thing is really interesting. Utility computing is definitely a trend that’s here to stay, and Amazon has taken a bold step into that arena. Amazon’s Web Services are still very new, and very raw though. Right now when you set up an EC2 instance, it’s like you just took an old computer out of your closet and installed Linux on it. You don’t have any of the modern tools and conveniences for managing servers. Despite this, once we had created EC2 images with Fedora pre-installed, I found myself using them over and over. Definitely watch this space.
The REST API in Fedora 3.0 Beta is exciting because it allowed me to put Fedora in front of a roomful of people and give them a real, direct sense of how you can use it.
At the end of the day, we played around with the new Content Model Architecture (CMA). One group at the workshop tried to “push” the examples, making them do new things. We expected our first attempt at rewiring everything would fail, but it actually worked. This was pretty encouraging.
HatCheck: What are you hearing with regard to what people would like from Fedora both in terms of functionality and additional core services?
MZ: Two years ago, when I started working with Fedora it was still pretty raw. I started MediaShelf based on the conviction that Fedora should be easier to use. I put together a team of talented friends and set out to achieve that. Meanwhile the Fedora core team have done a huge amount of really great work. Compared to two years ago, Fedora is much more flexible and much easier to use, but there is still a long way to go. There are some things, like workflow, that I’m not so sure Fedora should be responsible for. Other things like messaging, transactions, and clustering are really important and definitely should be supported by future versions of Fedora. There is also the ongoing challenge of getting the authentication and authorization stuff to sing. There’s been a lot of talk about that on the Fedora-dev mailing list lately.
Also it would be really cool to make Fedora accessible through a JSR-170 interface. This would be a big advantage for Fedora adopters.
HatCheck: How is 3.0 beta with the new Content Model Architecture working?
MZ: It’s really exciting to see the CMA taking shape. I see Fedora as an architecture before I think of it as software. For me, Fedora’s primary purpose is to provide a really solid conceptual framework for making sense of the complex problems around digital content repositories. The CMA carries that framework forward into exciting, uncharted territories.
HatCheck: Where do you see the biggest FC growth—what type of repository, eResearch, Library/archive, ePublishing etc.?
MZ: I’m not sure that I would say any of these areas is more active than the others. We’ve worked with people in all three of those fields this year, and we’re constantly hearing of new projects all across the board.
HatCheck: What kind of additional materials or documentation would help you work with folks better or more efficiently?
MZ: Fedora Commons has already done a good job of building out the community and opening up communication. I would encourage you to continue with that work.
Besides that, one of the best things Fedora Commons could do now would be to focus on strengthening the brand. I still come across a lot of people who don’t understand how Fedora is different from DSpace, ePrints or Greenstone. The differences are pretty substantial. It would be good to publicize them up front. In particular, you should address, head on, the fact that Fedora is not an out-of-the-box system. Fedora is an architecture, and it is designed around the idea that storage, preservation, indexing, and security should be separated from user interface, metadata schemas, content models, and whatever management/re-use applications you might cook up. Fedora takes more work to use, but it gives you a huge amount of flexibility. Most importantly, it gives you far more opportunities to re-use and re-invent your content over the long term. By owning the reality [of what Fedora is and is not] you gain a lot of footing.
HatCheck: For Matt’s complete account of the “Unpacking Fedora 3.0″ workshop, and to follow his listening tour, take a look at the MediaShelf Blog.
Ithaca, NY The first issue of Fedora Commons HatCheck newsletter launched on March 4, 2008. This quarterly newsletter is by and for communities of Fedora users, developers, vendors and decision makers for the exchange of news, events and achievements. Your comments and content are most welcome! Please contact Carol Minton Morris (email@example.com) to contribute your news to the June 4, 2008 issue of Hatcheck.
Copenhagen, Denmark The Fedora GSearch team is pleased to announce the release of GSearch 2.0 for Fedora. The new release is designed to support Fedora 2.2.1. GSearch 3.0 for Fedora version 3.0, with message-based communication is currently being developed by Eddie Shin, Fedora Commons. The Fedora Generic Search Service or “GSearch” is part of the Fedora Service Framework that presents users with a service-oriented architecture approach that allows new services to be built as stand-alone web applications that run independently of the Fedora repository.
Peter Murray, OhioLink, observed in a Dec. 31, 2006, post to his blog The Disruptive Library Technology Jester, “GSearch - where “G” stands for “General” but could equally well stand for “Gert” Schmeltz Pedersen, its lead developer from the Technical University of Denmark.” Gert and colleagues Beth Kirschner, Binaya Poudyal, Blake Anderson, Boon Low, Christian Tonsberg, Eric Brown, Jun Yamog, Junran Lei, Luis Zorita, Matt Zumwalt, Matthias Razum, Michael Appleby, Michael Hoppe, Nikolai Schwertner, Patrick Monbaron, Pierre-Yves Landron, Ranju Upadhyaya, Robert Sherratt, Ryan E. Scherle, Sam Liberman, Shunde Zhang, Steve DiDomenico Thierry Michel, and Xinjian Guo regularly contribute their work on GSearch to the Fedora Commons community as well as to DEFF, Denmark’s Electronic Research Library, which funded the Fedora GSearch project.
Fedora GSearch 2.0 is a feature release compatible with Fedora 2.2.1 with improved configurability including seven new features requested by users designed to exploit more features of Solr. The Fedora System Documentation links to FedoraGSearch information that includes an introduction, list of new features, installation instructions, configuration, and additional architectural information.
The same information is available in the source download from Sourceforge.net, and after installation here.
New Fedora Gsearch 2.0 features include:
• Added a plugin for the Apache Solr search server.
• Added a sortFields parameter to gfindObjects for Lucene; sorting search results as specified; exploiting Lucene classes for sorting.
• Added optimize options for Lucene indexing; the mergeFactor and maxBufferedDocs; properties will affect performance as explained in the Lucene documentation; The optimize action of the updateIndex operation will perform the Lucene method; call IndexWriter.optimize(), which merges all segments together into a single segment; optimizing an index for search. The optimize() is no longer called after each updateIndex.
• Added parameters to the indexDocXslt parameter of the updateIndex operation, enabling the transfer of param values into the indexing stylesheet.
• Added untokenizedFields property to Lucene index.properties files. Adding the property with a list of all untokenized fields will ensure that they all select the appropriate analyzer.
• Added properties snippetBegin and snippetEnd, making highlight code configurable.
• Added property for custom URIResolver used by xslt transformers for basic authorization and SSL, see the example dk.defxws.fedoragsearch.server.URIResolverImpl class.
• Removed encoding of special characters in indexFields. Snippets now show special characters without modification. Indexes should be reindexed.
For examples, see the index.properties file in configTestOnLucene/index/TestOnLucene. Download here.
Sydney, AU The DRAMA team has announced the 1.2.1 release of Muradora which is now available for download at http://www.muradora.org/software. More information about Muradora (including deployment guides) can be found at http://www.muradora.org. DRAMA (Digital Repository Authorization Middleware Architecture) is a sub-project within RAMP that aims to develop a web front-end for Fedora repositories, and to re-factor Fedora authentication and authorization into pluggable middleware components. Please share your ideas and feedback with the developers.
Muradora is an easy to use repository application that supports federated identity (via Shibboleth authentication) and flexible authorization (using XACML). Muradora leverages Fedora’s modularity, flexibility and scalability to form the core back-end repository, while different front-end applications (such as portlets or standalone web interfaces) can all talk to the same instance of Fedora, and yet maintain a consistent approach to access control.
Muradora and its related components are released under the Apache 2 license. An emphasis of the Muradora 1.2.1 release was to improve the software and make several new features available:
• Better support for new XForms scripts for different metadata standards
• Preliminary support of Open Journal System (OJS) dissemination styles
• Support for IMS learning objects
• Automatic thumbnail generation for images
• New administration panel for administrators to assign access control to the repository
• Statistical view of accesses to resources
A demo of Muradora can be found at http://demo.muradora.org. The DRAMA team has also made a Live DVD containing the complete installation of Muradora and its related components available. The Live DVD may be run directly from it without having to install Muradora on a hard disk. This DVD will be available for download within the next few days from the same address as above.
Los Angeles, CA Florencio Almirol has an interest in how university news is managed and propagated. Almirol, a graduate student at California State University Los Angeles, heads up a student team that is prototyping the CoolStateLA Enterprise System. The project is led by Professor Jon Beaupre, Professor of Broadcast Journalism in the department of Communication Studies, and Professor Russ Abbott, computer science technical advisor. CoolStateLA is aimed at creating a “converged newsroom” that combines the ability to create, manage, review, and store content that will be simultaneously available to university media outlets - a newspaper; a web site; a blog facility; RSS news feed filter; text feeds to create email alerts; news webcasts; and Internet radio. CoolStateLA is a one-stop shop for getting the word out on campus and beyond. Almirol says, “Fedora’s content model architecture coupled with versioning capabilities made it ideal for pulling in and pushing out different types of media.”
The system combines a workflow application specifically purposed for communications activities in a typical university news bureau that includes roles for a programmer, news director, senior editor, assignment editor, reporter/producer, and correspondent. Joomla, an open source content management system, was chosen because it is used by newspapers and has a customizable framework. Fedora is the asset manager component and serves as the integration point for all content flowing in and out of the system.
CoolStateLA team members are Farrukh Shakil - Fedora integration; Dhaval Joshi - Joomla; Mark Luntzel - RSS Feed Filter; Manoj Katwal - User Interface, and; Sepideh Nazari - Workflow. For more information contact Florencio Almirol.
Columbus, Ohio Blockbuster movies and even soft drink commercials have made our planet’s polar regions and their inhabitants popular culture superstars. At the same time many people have either been confronted with what they believe to be climate change weather events, or find themselves wondering about how melting polar ice sheets and rising ocean temperatures might affect their lives in the future. Despite this onslaught of data, scientific discovery, drama and speculation, misconceptions about the Polar polar regions and their importance abound.
As attention continues to turn to polar environments, a coalition of specialists from science, literacy and educational organizations nationwide is pleased to announce the launch of Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears, an online professional development magazine for elementary teachers. Using content-rich web sites, interactive videos, animations, articles written specifically for grades K-2 and 3-5 that are available in text-only versions as well as in printable, fold-able book versions, photographic collections that highlight polar beauty and mystery, and even a poetry lesson plan that features work contributed by elementary school students in Anchorage, Alaska, the magazine aims to develop teacher content knowledge about the Arctic and Antarctica to enable teaching of polar science concepts in already-crowded curricula. By integrating inquiry-based science with literacy teaching developers aim to increase students’ science knowledge, academic language, reading comprehension, and written and oral discourse abilities.
Jessica Fries-Gaither, elementary resource specialist and project director for Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears notes, “As a former elementary teacher in Alaska, I understand the difficulty of finding time for quality science instruction. Yet in the face of issues such as global climate change and dramatically changing Polar Regions, it is essential that science, specifically polar science, is included. We are particularly pleased to offer this new online magazine that transfers current polar research and best practices in science and literacy instruction to classrooms nationwide.”
Twenty thematic issues of the online magazine are being generated directly from the Fedora/Fez-based OnRamp repository using the OnFire extension to send content to the Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears target web site.
Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears is funded by the National Science Foundation Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL). Kimberly Lightle, Principal Investigator for the NSDL Middle School Portal developed by The Ohio State University College of Education and Human Ecology and also Principal Investigator for the Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears magazine coordinates a team of collaborators including an interdisciplinary team from Ohio State University College of Education and Human Ecology; the Ohio Resource Center for Mathematics, Science, and Reading; the Byrd Polar Research Center; The Columbus Center for Science and Industry; the Upper Arlington Public Library; and the National Science Digital Library (NSDL). Content and education specialists are creating content as well as adapting and contextualizing existing content from NSDL. NSDL is adapting Fedora-based tools to facilitate editorial workflow, dissemination and promotion of the magazine. The Evaluation and Assessment Center at Miami University in Oxford, OH is conducting ongoing project evaluation including teacher focus groups and usability testing that will inform iterative design going forward.
Ithaca, NY Akubra is the codename of a new, joint effort between Fedora Commons and Topaz to define a common low-level storage API for use by Fedora repositories and their related projects. Major goals of the project include improved plugability and support for file-level transactions. This work is aimed at opening up a wider variety of storage options while also providing a better guarantee of consistency between file storage and database and/or triplestore storage.