Adopting Hydra in 2015?

New to Hydra? Wondering where to start? Here’s our perspective looking forward into 2015.

Which Fedora?

The content in a Hydra head is usually stored in Fedora. Most existing Hydra applications are running on Fedora 3.x. But if you’re starting fresh, we recommend using Fedora 4. The production release of Fedora 4 is out now, and it seems to be working well for the early adopters. The release candidate for Hydra running on Fedora 4 will be out within a week or two of this post. Rather than set yourself up for a major migration, we suggest you plunge right in with the latest and greatest.

Which gem?

One of the best things about adopting Hydra in 2015 is that you have options for jump-starting your project with gems. The Sufia gem is a well-tested, well-designed gem for a self-deposit Institutional Repository (IR). Sufia’s object model offers simple Dublin Core metadata attached to individual digital files. If you want a self-deposit system and Sufia’s file-focused object model and DC-based metadata meet your needs, we can’t recommend it enough.

If you want a self-deposit system that can handle more complex digital works comprised of multiple files (for example, a digital record album including files for each audio track, a track list, individual text files for lyrics, and an image file for the cover art), then Worthwhile is for you. Worthwhile is a streamlined IR gem with a minimalist philosophy. Originally based on the larger Curate project, Worthwhile pares away some of Curate’s more complex, less commonly needed functions to provide a basis that’s easier to adapt to a broad range of needs and environments. Despite its minimalist approach, Worthwhile provides the most frequently requested features found in both Sufia and Curate.

How to get bootstrapped?

There are lots of ways to learn about Hydra. You can work through community resources like the great online tutorials that focus on basic repository development. There are Hydra-specific events and Hydra-focused presentations at conferences and meetings throughout the year – the community keeps a continually updated list of events on the Hydra events calendar. If you haven’t already, we encourage you to join the one of the Hydra e-mail lists: either hydra-tech (developer focused) or hydra-users (more general topics and announcements). You can find instructions on how to sign up under the “mailing list” section of the Get-in-Touch page on the Hydra Wiki.

If you’re looking for help beyond community resources, DCE offers a range of services to help you bootstrap your Hydra project. DCE hosts at least two public Hydra Camps every year where developers can learn more about developing with Hydra in a supportive environment among peers (watch this blog for details about upcoming camps in Spring and Fall). For more specifics needs, DCE offers a variety of custom training, project planning, development, and co-development services to help get you and your team up to speed with Hydra. Please get in touch with us if you want to learn more about our offerings.

Welcome to the Community

The most important part of Hydra is the community. We want to make sure that people feel welcome and encouraged to participate. Are there barriers to entry? We may be too closely involved in the community to see them. We invite new adopters, new partners, and new developers especially to speak up on what the Hydra community can do to support you as you come on board. If everyone just takes what’s already done, and goes off to work on their own, the overall project will stagnate. If we all contribute, the project will flourish. So if you’re new to Hydra, post a comment and let us know what the community can do to help you connect.

Introducing Blacklight Folders

We’re pleased to announce the first release of the blacklight_folders gem, a plugin for Blacklight pioneered by Indiana University and built by Data Curation Experts.

Blacklight_folders is an enhanced reference organization tool. Authenticated users can:

  • create and manage multiple folders, private or public
  • save and order references within those folders
  • export folders with all their references as citations or to EndNote and RefWorks with blacklight_marc

Unauthenticated users have access to a default folder, to mirror the existing bookmarks functionality.

Blacklight_folders replaces the Bookmarks menu with a Folders menu. The code offers a migration script for existing bookmark records. The user interface is accessible to screen readers and supports keyboard navigation. It also includes a drag-and-drop interface for re-ordering references in a folder.

The repo is on github – we welcome contributors. For a limited time, DCE has a demo server running so you can see the code in action.

2014 Year in Review

In this season of thanksgiving and celebration, we’re looking back over 2014. From training to bespoke code to shared Hydra features to laying the groundwork for turn-key Hydra solutions, we spent the year closely involved in moving the Hydra project and the broader digital repositories conversation forward.

Here are some highlights from a very busy year:

Hydra Training and Outreach

  • We hosted 5 Hydra Camps this year including public camps at Yale University, Trinity College Dublin, and in our Minneapolis offices alongside two private camps to help Dartmouth College and the University of Alberta kick off major Hydra initiatives.
  • We spearheaded Dive into Hydra sessions at DLF, Open Repositories 2015, and both HydraConnect events.
  • As part of the HydraDAM project, we developed comprehensive installation instructions which can also be useful for other Sufia and Worthwhile based applications.
  • We led multiple public demos including a live demo of HydraDAM for the Association of Moving Image Archivists’ annual conference.
  • We helped plan and execute both Hydra Connect events this year and are looking forward to Hydra Connect #3 in Fall 2015.
  • Among the many institutions we helped introduce to the Hydra project, four institutions committed to becoming Hydra Partners this year: Tufts University, University of Alberta, Princeton University, and Case Western University.

New Gems & Projects

  • The worthwhile gem – a lightweight IR supporting complex digital objects (the object prototype for Hydra Works)
  • The blacklight_folders gem – a blacklight plugin for grouping and organizing bookmarks in folders
  • Batch ingest for Tufts MIRA admin head –  a building block for a more generalized batch solution in 2015
  • The tufts-image-library – an image head supporting ordered collections and slideshows inspired by Northwestern’s DIL project
  • Digital Case 2.0 – a full-featured IR based on the worthwhile gem
  • Hull History Centre – a blacklight search interface for cross-institutional collections, with EAD import capability

Additional Community Contributions

  • Work on fluctus, the admin interface for APTrust
  • Feature development for the initial release of Spotlight
  • ActiveFedora upgrades to support Fedora 4
  • Sufia upgrades to support Fedora 4
  • Lease & embargo functionality (developed for Digital Case 2.0, incorporated in core hydra codebase)
  • Hydra design and coding contributions at developers’ events in Palo Alto and Portland

Thanks to our clients and colleagues for a great 2014! We look forward to continuing our work and collaborations throughout the coming year.