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Fedora Commons Awarded $4.9M Grant

Fedora Commons Awarded $4.9M Grant to Develop Open-Source Software for Building Collaborative Information Communities

Ithaca, New York, USA. August 14, 2007.

[With Additional References]

Fedora Commons today announced the award of a four year, $4.9M grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to develop the organizational and technical frameworks necessary to effect revolutionary change in how scientists, scholars, museums, libraries, and educators collaborate to produce, share, and preserve their digital intellectual creations. Fedora Commons is a new non-profit organization that will continue the mission of the Fedora Project, the successful open-source software collaboration between Cornell University and the University of Virginia. The Fedora Project evolved from the Flexible Extensible Digital Object Repository Architecture (Fedora) developed by researchers at Cornell Computing and Information Science.

With this funding, Fedora Commons will foster an open community to support the development and deployment of open source software, which facilitates open collaboration and open access to scholarly, scientific, cultural, and educational materials in digital form. The software platform developed by Fedora Commons with Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation funding will support a networked model of intellectual activity, whereby scientists, scholars, teachers, and students will use the Internet to collaboratively create new ideas, and build on, annotate, and refine the ideas of their colleagues worldwide. With its roots in the Fedora open-source repository system, developed since 2001 with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the new software will continue to focus on the integrity and longevity of the intellectual products that underlie this new form of knowledge work. The result will be an open source software platform that both enables collaborative models of information creation and sharing, and provides sustainable repositories to secure the digital materials that constitute our intellectual, scientific, and cultural history.

Recognizing the importance of multiple participants in the development of new technologies to support this vision, the Moore Foundation funding will also support the growth and diversification of the Fedora Community, a global set of partners who will cooperate in software development, application deployment, and community outreach for Fedora Commons. This network of partners will be instrumental for making Fedora Commons a self-sustainable non-profit organization that will support and incubate open-source software projects that focus on new mechanisms for information formation, access, collaboration, and preservation.

According to Sandy Payette, Executive Director of Fedora Commons, "the new Fedora Commons can foster technologies and partnerships that make it possible for academic and scientific communities to publish, share, and archive the results of their own work in a free, open fashion, and make it possible to analyze and use content in novel ways."

"Establishing a sustainable open-source software system that provides the basic infrastructure for on-line communities of scholars will have enduring impact. The unanticipated cross-disciplinary uses of this open platform are the hallmark of this revolutionary infrastructure," said Jim Omura, technology strategist with the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Payette also noted, "The open-source software that is developed and distributed by Fedora Commons can impact the entire lifecycle of what is often referred to as "e-Research" and "e-Science," including storage of experimental data, analysis of experimental results, peer review, publication of findings, and the reuse of published material for the next generation of scholarly works. We will also continue our work with libraries and museums to facilitate the sharing of digitized collections, making previously locked away material available to wide audiences. Also, building on our attention to digital preservation in the Fedora open-source repository system, Fedora Commons will continue to stress the importance of the sustainability of digital information in applications of our work."

About Fedora Commons

Fedora Commons is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to provide sustainable open-source technologies to help individuals and organizations create, manage, publish, share, and preserve digital content upon which we form our intellectual, scientific, and cultural heritage. Since 2001, with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Cornell University and the University of Virginia have collaborated on the Fedora Project which has developed, distributed, and supported innovative open-source repository software that combines content management, web services, and semantic technologies. The Fedora software has been adopted worldwide to support an array of applications including open-access publishing, scholarly communication, digital libraries, e-science, archives, and education.

Fedora Commons will initially be located in the Information Science Building at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. The Executive Director of Fedora Commons is Sandy Payette, who co-invented the Fedora architecture and led the Cornell arm of the open-source Fedora Project. The Board of Directors of Fedora Commons provides leadership from multiple communities, including open-access publishing, digital libraries, sciences, and humanities. For more information, visit

About the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, established in 2000, seeks to advance environmental conservation and cutting-edge scientific research around the world and improve the quality of life in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Foundation's Science Program seeks to make a significant impact on the development of provocative, transformative scientific research, and increase knowledge in emerging fields. For more information, visit

Additional References

  • "Fedora Commons Proposal to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation." Submitted by Sandy Payette. [cache]


    The existing Fedora software has been adopted by hundreds of institutions for an array of innovative applications in education, open-access publishing, scholarly communication, and e-science. Among its notable installations are the Topaz/PLoS ONE open access journal system, the National Science Digital Library (NSDL), the Max Planck Society's e-scholarship system, the Chicago Historical Society's multimedia encyclopedia, the University of Virginia's digital collections, the Australian national institutional repository initiative (ARROW), Oxford University's digital archive, the Perseus humanities computing project, and numerous applications in national libraries, companies, universities, and cultural institutions...

    In 2005, the Fedora Project successfully integrated a first stage of semantic web technologies into its repository service by introducing support for RDF descriptions of digital objects, RDF relationships and graph-based indexing of Fedora repositories. This provided a more powerful and generalizable mechanism for expressing the relationships among digital objects. With this implementation, the objects in the repository could now be treated as nodes on a graph and that graph could be queried. The impact of this adaptation has been significant since it positions Fedora as a unique open source system that simultaneously combines rich, semantic 'information networks' of digital content with support for persistence and management of digital content in a robust repository system that includes features such as authentication, policy enforcement, versioning, replication, integrity checking, dynamic views of digital objects, and more...

    The Resource Index is the Fedora module that provides the infrastructure for indexing relationships among objects and their components. Examples of relationships between digital objects include well-known management relationships such as the part-whole links between individual chapters and a book, and semantic relationships useful in digital library organization such as those expressed within the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR).

    Fedora expresses relationships by defining a base relationship ontology using RDFS and provides a slot in the digital object abstraction for RDF expression of relationships based on this ontology. Assertions from other ontologies may also be included along with the base Fedora relationships. All relationships are represented as a graph that can be queried using an RDF query language. The query interface to the Resource Index is exposed as a web service... The Resource Index Search interface is exposed in a REST architectural style, providing a stateless query interface that accepts queries by value or by reference. The query interface to the Resource Index currently supports three RDF query languages, RDQL (Kowari-only), iTQL (Kowari-only), and SPO (Kowari and MPTStore)...

  • Fedora: An Architecture for Complex Objects and their Relationships." By Carl Lagoze, Sandy Payette, Edwin Shin, and Chris Wilper. "The Fedora architecture is an extensible framework for the storage, management, and dissemination of complex objects and the relationships among them. Fedora accommodates the aggregation of local and distributed content into digital objects and the association of services with objects. This allows an object to have several accessible representations, some of them dy-namically produced. The architecture includes a generic RDF-based relationship model that represents relationships among objects and their components. Queries against these relationships are supported by an RDF triple store. The architecture is implemented as a web service, with all aspects of the complex object architecture and related management functions exposed through REST and SOAP interfaces. The implementation is available as opensource software, providing the foundation for a variety of end-user applications for digital libraries, archives, institutional repositories, and learning object systems..."

  • " Introduction to Fedora Object XML (FOXML)." Fedora Release 2.2. "FOXML is a simple XML format that directly expresses the Fedora digital object model... The introduction of FOXML was motivated by several requirements: (1) simplicity, (2) optimization and performance, and (3) flexibility in evolving Fedora. Regarding simplicity, user feedback called for a conceptually easy mapping of the Fedora concepts to an XML format. Users wanted an obvious sense of how to create Fedora ingest files, especially those who are not familiar with formats such as METS and MPEG21/DIDL. Regarding optimization and performance, the FOXML schema was designed to improve repository performance, both at ingest and during disseminations. Overall ingest performance has been positively affected with FOXML, especially in the validation phases. Regarding flexibility, establishing FOXML as the internal storage format for Fedora objects enables easier evolution of functionality in the Fedora repository, without requiring ongoing extensions to other community formats... An offical published version of the FOXML XML schema is also published on the Fedora web site. Also, a copy of the schema is provided with the Fedora open-source distribution. The Fedora repository service validates all Fedora objects against this schema before objects are permanently stored in the repository..."

Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive. See the 2005-03-18 news story: "Fedora Version 2.0 Open-Source Repository Supports XML and Web Services."

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