Fedora Commons

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This article is about the digital repository software. For the Linux distribution, see Fedora (operating system). For other uses, see Fedora (disambiguation).
Fedora Commons logo.png
Developer(s) DuraSpace
Initial release 2003-05-16
Stable release 3.7.0 / 2013-09-19
Development status Active
Platform Java
Type digital asset management
License Apache License 2.0
Website fedora-commons.org

Fedora (or Flexible Extensible Digital Object Repository Architecture) is a digital asset management (DAM) architecture upon which institutional repositories, digital archives, and digital library systems might be built. Fedora is the underlying architecture for a digital repository, and is not a complete management, indexing, discovery, and delivery application. It is a modular architecture built on the principle that interoperability and extensibility are best achieved by the integration of data, interfaces, and mechanisms (i.e., executable programs) as clearly defined modules.


Fedora was originally developed by researchers at Cornell University and the University of Virginia Library[1] as an architecture for storing, managing, and accessing digital content in the form of digital objects inspired by the Kahn and Wilensky Framework.[2] Fedora began as a DARPA and NSF-funded research project at Cornell University's Digital Library Research Group in 1997, where the first reference implementation and a CORBA-based technical implementation were built.[3] Since then, several modifications have been made to the architecture, and in late 2005, version 2.1 was released.[4] Fedora defines a set of abstractions for expressing digital objects, asserting relationships among digital objects, and linking "behaviors" (i.e., services) to digital objects.

In 2003 Red Hat, Inc. applied for trademark status for the name "Fedora" to be associated with their Linux operating system project.[5] Cornell and UVA formally disputed the request and, as a final settlement, all parties settled on a co-existence agreement that stated that the Cornell-UVA project could use the name when clearly associated with open source software for digital object repository systems and that Red Hat could use the name when it was clearly associated with open source computer operating systems.[6]


Fedora provides a general-purpose management layer for digital objects.[7] Object management is based on content models that represent data objects (units of content) or collections of data objects. The objects contain linkages between datastreams (internally managed or external content files), metadata (inline or external), system metadata (including a PID – persistent identifier – that is unique to the repository), and behaviors that are themselves code objects that provide bindings or links to disseminators (software processes that can be used with the datastreams). Content models can be thought of as containers that give a useful shape to information poured into them; if the information fits the container, it can immediately be used in predefined ways.

Fedora supports two types of access services: a management client for ingest, maintenance, and export of objects; or via API hooks for customized web-based access services built on either HTTP or SOAP. A Fedora Repository provides a general-purpose management layer for digital objects, and containers that aggregate mime-typed datastreams (e.g., digital images, XML files, metadata). Out-of-the-box Fedora includes the necessary software tools to ingest, manage, and provide basic delivery of objects with few or no custom disseminators, or can be used as a backend to a more monolithic user interface.

Fedora supports ingest and export of digital objects in a variety of XML formats. This enables interchange between Fedora and other XML-based applications and facilitates archiving tasks.

  • Digital Object Model The FEDORA digital object model allows tight management of metadata and digital content, regardless of format. The system is scalable and flexible allowing for FEDORA to associate objects with external or distributed repositories. Objects and behaviour are separated making it possible to change the required behaviours by altering the mechanisms without changing the objects themselves.
  • Server architecture is based upon four main Application Programming Interfaces (APIs): manage, access, search and the Open Archival Initiative service (for metadata harvesting).

The Fedora Project is currently supported by the DuraSpace organization.

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