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Fedora (Flexible Extensible Digital Object Repository Architecture) -- not to be confused with a Red Hat Inc. initiative with a similar name -- is a modular architecture built on the principle that interoperability and extensibility is best achieved by the integration of data, interfaces, and mechanisms (i.e., executable programs) as clearly defined modules. Fedora is a digital asset management (DAM) architecture, upon which many types of 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.
Fedora provides a general-purpose management layer for digital objects. 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 is developed jointly by Cornell University Information Science and the University of Virginia Library. Fedora began as a DARPA and NSF-funded research project of Carl Lagoze and Sandy Payette at Cornell University's Digital Library Research Group in 1997, where the first reference implementation and a CORBA-based technical implementation were built. The Fedora Project is currently supported by generous grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The Fedora software is available under the terms of the Educational Community License 1.0 (ECL).
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