One of the earliest technical decisions the Hydra-in-a-Box team made was to base our repository product on existing Samvera community software instead of basing it on a fork or on bespoke software. This made sense given the diversity and maturity of software products already provided by the Samvera community.

We ultimately decided to build our repository product as an implementation of the Sufia gem, a widely used (2-3 dozen known implementations), collaboratively maintained, feature-rich solution bundle that has been under active development since late 2012. Sufia extends the Samvera framework to provide a user interface around common repository features, based on Fedora 4 and the Portland Common Data Model. The features that are bundled in Sufia include:

  • an end-user dashboard
  • the ability to upload files via third-party storage providers (e.g., Dropbox)
  • the ability to deposit on behalf of another user
  • social features, including user profiles, user notifications, and events/activity streams
  • a WYSIWYG-editable UI
  • a contact form
  • a flexible, multi-file work-based data model (based on PCDM)
  • a developing REST API
  • administrative statistics
  • Google Analytics integration
  • batch-editing

Sufia has also demonstrated a clear upgrade path over the years; provided comprehensive, up-to-date documentation; and kept pace with the leading edge of the Samvera dependencies. By choosing Sufia as a starting point, there are many features the Hydra-in-a-Box team no longer needs to build because they’re already included in Sufia. Our investment in Sufia also contributes back to the community by allowing for Hydra-in-a-Box features to be included in Sufia or one of its dependencies, making the features even more broadly available, and by increasing the number of active developers thereby making Sufia more sustainable.

The Hydra-in-a-Box technical team has already started collaborating with the community on the upcoming Sufia 7.0.0 release, including close collaboration with Penn State University, and that work is proceeding swimmingly. We’re so far very pleased with our decision to use Sufia as the base for the Hydra-in-a-Box repository application, and we’d welcome hearing your thoughts on the matter.