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Community, Cohesion, and Commitment


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I used these slides as part of a "Digital Dialogues" presentation at University of Maryland's Institute for Technology in the Humanities: "Community, Cohesion, and Commitment: Developing and Deploying Open Source Tools in the UVa Online Library Environment"...more info at

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Community, Cohesion, and Commitment

  1. 1. Community, Cohesion, and Commitment: Developing and Deploying Open Source Tools in the UVa Online Library Environment<br />Julie Meloni, University of Virginia<br />MITH Digital Dialogue // 22 Feb 2011<br /> // @jcmeloni<br />
  2. 2. The Hydra Project<br />Collaborative effort between University of Virginia, Stanford University, University of Hull, Fedora Commons/DuraSpace, and MediaShelf.<br />Working group created in 2008 to fill a need to develop an end-to-end, flexible, extensible, workflow-driven, Fedora application kit.<br />Technical Framework <br />Community Framework<br />No direct funding of the Hydra Project itself.<br />
  3. 3. Hydra Project Assumption #1<br />no single application can meet the full range of digital asset management needs, but there are shared primitive functions:<br />Depositsimple or multipart objects, singly or in bulk<br />Manage object’s content, metadata, and permissions<br />Search both full text and fielded search in support of user discovery and administration<br />Browseobjects sequentially by collection, attribute, or ad-hoc filtering<br />Delivery of objects for viewing, downloading, and dissemination through user and machine interfaces<br />
  4. 4. Hydra Project Response<br />One body, many heads.<br />Hydra is designed to support tailored applications and workflows for different content types, contexts, and interactions by building from:<br />a common repository infrastructure,<br />flexible, atomic data models, and<br />modular services and configurable components<br />
  5. 5. Hydra Technical Framework<br />Fedoraas repository layer for persisting and managing digital objects. <br />An abstraction layer sits between Fedora and the Hydra heads, keeping the institution and its applications safe from changes in the repository structure<br />ActiveFedorais a Ruby gem for creating and managing objects in Fedora<br />Solr indexes provide fast access to information Blacklight for faceted searching, browsing and tailored views on objects<br />The Hydra plugin itself: a Ruby on Rails library that works with ActiveFedora to provide create, update and delete actions against objects in the repository<br />A suite of web-based services, supporting granular actions against content to support their management, access and preservation <br />Hydrangea, a web application that bundles components and hooks to web services into a single package to support various content management actions<br />Partners and other developers use Hydrangea as a reference implementation to begin their own internal projects.<br />
  6. 6. Hydra Project Assumption #2<br />no single institution or provider can resource the development or maintenance of a full set of solutions for the same needs.<br />Problems with proprietary software include expense in terms of licensing, hardware, maintenance, potential vendor lock-in<br />Problems with open source software include expense of human resources, and lack of vendor support causes a reliance on internal resources and community that may have different goals than your own.<br />
  7. 7. Hydra Project Response<br />“If you want to go fast, go alone.<br /> If you want to go far, go together.”<br />Hydra Steering Group<br />Collaborative roadmapping, resource allocation and coordination, governance of the technology core<br />Hydra Managers <br />Shape and fund work, commission “heads”, create functional requirements and specifications, UI/UX design, documentation, training, evangelism<br />Hydra Developers<br />Define technical architecture, commit code, integration and release, testing, testing, testing.<br />
  8. 8. Hydra Community Framework<br />Conceived and executed as a collaborative, open source effort from the start<br />An open architecture, with many contributors to the core<br />Collaboratively built “solution bundles” that can be adapted and modified to suit local needs<br />Hydra heads as reference implementations<br />Ultimate objective of the Hydra Project is to effectively intertwine its technical and community threads of development, producing a community-sourced, sustainable application framework.<br />
  9. 9. Open Source in Practice<br />Blacklight is an open source discovery interface that can be used as a front end for a digital repository, or as a single-search interface to aggregate digital content that would otherwise be siloed.<br />Developed originally by Bess Sadler while at UVa<br />Is an integral (but removable) part of the Hydra framework<br />Continued development by a core group of committers governed by developer norms.<br />
  10. 10. Basic Blacklight<br />
  11. 11. Branded Blacklight<br />
  12. 12. Hydra Head Implementation<br />Hydrangea: not a turnkey IR solution, but a framework for depositing, managing, searching, browsing, and delivering digital content (and preserving the scholarly record).<br />Electronic Theses & Dissertations<br />Journal Pre-prints<br />Scientific Datasets<br />Scanned Archival Manuscripts<br />Development on Hydrangea core, but also branches:<br />Hydrus: the Stanford implementation<br />Hydra at Hull: the University of Hull implementation<br />Libra: the UVa implementation<br />
  13. 13. Libra in Development<br />
  14. 14. Libra in Development<br />
  15. 15. Libra in Development<br />
  16. 16. Libra in Development<br />
  17. 17. HYPATIA<br />HYdra Platform for Access to Information in Archives<br />A Hydra head that enables processing, arrangement, description and access for born digital archival materials. <br />Built in association with the Mellon AIMS Grant (with UVa, Hull, Stanford & Yale as partners).<br />Functional specifications mapped by content experts<br />Discussion within Hydra Steering<br />Resource allocation among partners<br />Development and continuous integration from the community<br />Win!<br />
  18. 18. Community, Cohesion, & Commitment<br />Given access to a vibrant community of developers and end users, plus<br />A desire to work together when offered workflows and the opportunity to effect change, with a goal of completing<br />Projects and commitments already made, leveraging lessons learned and continuing to move forward, then…<br />all of this runs on love.<br />
  19. 19. Possible Discussion Questions<br />Seriously? It runs on love? (Yes, seriously.)<br />Balancing commitments to library applications in production with those in development, plus responsibilities to the community<br />Team demographics<br />Skills required, ongoing training, developer assumptions<br />More?<br />