FAQ

What is Hyku?

Hyku is the official name of the repository product that is a main deliverable of the Hydra-in-a-Box project. We settled on the name in November 2016 and announced it in early December 2016. Prior to that time, we referred to it as “the Hydra-in-a-Box repository” or “Lerna” as a temporary placeholder name. In all these cases, we are talking about the same thing: a polished, turnkey, feature-complete repository application product created by the Hydra-in-a-Box project. The code repository is on GitHub.

What is the project timeline?

Development of the repository application began in March 2016 after an intensive Design Phase was undertaken, resulting in a collection of design documents. A series of project team work cycles and community-based sprints followed, leading up to a product beta test and several pilots conducted in May-October 2017 (see this press release). Our blog and demo videos show the progress made along the way. November 2017 marks the final month of the Hydra-in-a-Box project as funded under the IMLS grant (LG-70-15-0006-15). The project partners are pursuing opportunities to continue developing the Hyku software and hosted services. Read this blog post for more about what is to come.

What kinds or sizes of institutions is Hyku intended for? Can I use Hyku if my institution has minimal IT staff with little-to-no skills in Ruby programming or Rails development?

Hyku is useful to any institution of any size managing collections of digital assets, particularly libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies with collections of cultural heritage materials. We believe, and IMLS supports us in this belief, that all institutions should have access to the benefits of the Samvera community and its products without needing to hire and retain Ruby developers. Our goals has been to produce a repository application that is easy to install and easy to maintain over time, and to provide software that is compelling to hosted service providers. In these ways, Hyku is a solution for any institution seeking a next-generation digital repository solution for its digital collections, particularly if technical resources and infrastructure are limited.

What is the relationship between Hyku, Hyrax, and Sufia?

Hyku is based directly on Hyrax. Hyku had been based on Sufia until November 2016 when Sufia and CurationConcerns were consolidated into one gem named Hyrax. From Hyku’s perspective, there has been no functional change since Sufia was consolidated into Hyrax.

Read more about the relationship between Hyku and Hyrax on the Hyku documentation wiki and on the Hyrax Developer Knowledge Base.

Are there any providers of Hyku hosted solutions?

As of 2019, there are two Hyku hosted service solutions set to launch before the end of the year, offered by Notch8 and Ubiquity Press. Each has a site for their hosted solution where you can learn more and sign up for a demo.

  • Ubiquity Repositories, offered by Ubiquity Press, invites registration for a demo or pilot.
  • HykuUP, offered by Notch8, is accepting signups for beta access, including a free trial period.

I am interested in starting to use Samvera at my institution. If I start now, will I be able to migrate to Hyku when it is released? Or should I hold off and wait?

The Hyku repository product is built using Hyrax as its starting point. Hyrax is a consolidation of Sufia and CurationConcerns, two widely-adopted Samvera community-managed software components. If you are ready to start with Samvera today with the intent or potential of moving to Hyku, then you should start with Hyrax. There will be a clear migration path to Hyku from Hyrax- and Sufia-based applications. Read more about Sufia here.

If you run a Sufia- or Hyrax-based application that has local customizations, migration to Hyku will likely be more complicated. The more customization you have undertaken, the more complex your migration will be.

Is the Hyku repository a single “Hydra head”? Or is it several “heads”? How does the analogy apply?

The Hyku repository application is different from what we used to call “Hydra heads” in that it is built as a multi-tenant application; this means you can host multiple, separate user-facing applications in the same instance, and each application will have its own repository objects, its own users, its own configuration, its own index, and its own look & feel. The application itself is based on Hyrax, so each tenant is effectively a separate Hyrax “head” even though it’s all one application. We are continually working to develop Hyrax to support more diverse use cases, so that over time the Hyku repository application will be capable of wearing a number of hats on its “head” – an institutional repository, a data repository, a digital collections management system, an audiovisual repository, etc.

What content types does Hyku support?

By basing Hyku on Hyrax, which provides a simple and broad data model for works consisting of files, we are able to provide general support for any content type or file format. We also provide richer content type-specific behaviors for image-based works; these will continue to be enhanced in the future. Support for additional content types, including datasets, books, theses and dissertations, audiovisual media, and newspapers, are high priorities for future releases. Read the March 2016 blog post for more on this topic.

What descriptive metadata elements and standards does Hyku support?

Hyku currently supports a basic metadata element set for a generic work, the same set of Dublin Core elements that ships with Hyrax. We are augmenting this set in two significant ways. First, we are ensuring that it is compatible with the DPLA Metadata Application Profile v4 so that works in Hyku can be readily published for harvesting by DPLA and its hubs without further mapping. Second, as we extend support for specific content types in Hyku, we will add specific elements relevant and appropriate to those content types.

As for crosswalking your metadata (which might be in XML) into a format that Hyku will ultimately use (such as RDF), we’re actively talking to interested institutions in the Samvera community on migration and mapping tools to support this work. Updates and announcements about this work will be posted here. In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you about your metadata questions. Please share your suggestions or questions about crosswalking/mapping strategies by email.

How customizable and configurable is Hyku?

Hyku supports common and simple user interface customizations including custom logos and site banner. Our primary goal during the initial development is to make Hyku turnkey, i.e. easy to install and maintain, therefore customization support has not been an area of focus. Customization features may be added in future releases. Note that in the case of hosted services, the availability of customizations may vary by provider.

Locally deployed Hyku instances are completely customizable. Because Hyku is open source, you’re free to make any modifications you like. If you have the resources and inclination to support a locally installed instance, you can customize the user interface, authentication and authorization to integrate with institutional identity management systems, and metadata support.

In terms of configurability, Hyku provides the ability to configure or enable a number of features, such as proxy deposit, batch upload, deposit agreement display, deposit workflows, and more. Additional features will become configurable over time. For more about striking the balance between configurability, customizability, and “easy to maintain”, read our December 2015 blog post.

Is Hyku integrated or compatible with …?

  • Cloud storage providers: Yes, Hyku uses the browse-everything gem to support content uploads from third-party services such Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, and more.
  • IIIF: Yes, Hyku provides implementations of the IIIF Presentation and Image APIs.
  • Portland Common Data Model (PCDM): Hyku supports PCDM natively by way of Fedora 4. Also the Hydra-in-a-Box project is developing content-type data models based on PCDM for incorporation into Hyku and will be available for adoption in other community systems. PCDM is, in large measure, a specialized version of OAI-ORE aggregation. With one exception, the object properties and classes all subclass OAI-ORE properties and classes. It has roots in non-Fedora systems, too, so the model can initially be approached agnostic to repository or platform. If you want to learn more about PCDM, a good starting point is the PCDM wiki (and if you find this document lacking or are otherwise looking for information and not finding it, please send us this important feedback.) The core ontology is hosted here. As extension vocabularies are developed, they are hosted in the PCDM Github repo.
  • Avalon: The Avalon Media System and Hyku project teams have started to discuss the relationship between the two products as their architectures become aligned and the needs of the community evolve. There are no plans for specific collaborative work at this point, but there may be in the future.
  • Spotlight: Support for cross-repository, tailored exhibits is of broad interest. Recent work in Hyrax has added more support for an exhibit-like experience. There are not current plans to implement Spotlight in Hyku. You can always integrate Spotlight with Hyku as a customization if this functionality is required before it is available directly in Hyku.
  • DOI: DOI integration is a requested feature in Hyku. There is a hydra-remote-identifier gem that you may use to build this customization if you require this functionality before we add it to Hyku.
  • ORCID: ORCID integration is a requested feature in Hyku. There is the orcid gem that you may use to build this customization if this functionality is required before we integrate it into Hyku.

Is the Hyku application dependent on Amazon Web Services (AWS)? What if I want to host it on a different cloud service provider, or on local infrastructure?

No, the application is not at all tied to AWS. If you choose to run it on AWS, take advantage of the CloudFormation templates our project team developed (available on GitHub). If you choose to install it on another cloud service, you may need to do similar development for that environment. For local installations, you need not pay attention to any of this template business.

Does the Hyku repository include metadata aggregation tools?

Hyku is designed to be aggregator-friendly, but it is not an aggregator itself. The Hydra-in-a-Box grant project includes further development of DPLA’s ingestion system, Heiðrún, to create a more robust suite of aggregation tools to be used by DPLA hubs and others engaged in aggregating, remediating, and enriching metadata from multiple sources. Read Gretchen Gueguen’s blog post on the subject. While this product will not be tightly coupled with Hyku, the two will be complementary and may share some componentry. And while it will be easy to use Hyku and the aggregation tools together, the two will be fully featured and operate independently. In other words, Hyku will not be required to run DPLA’s aggregator tool and vice versa. More information about Heiðrún is available on the DPLA wiki.

Does Hyku support version control of uploaded content?

Yes, Hyku allows uploaded content and descriptive metadata to be versioned. Each version persists in Fedora 4, and records who created the new version and when it was created. All versions are exposed to the depositor of the content and others who have been granted “edit” access. Only the most recent version is exposed to the public. (More robust version control tools may be implemented in a later development phase based on community requirements and priorities.)

How can I stay informed of Hyku project updates?

Join the Hyku Mailing List and follow @HykuRepo on Twitter for all the latest project news. General announcements and monthly updates are posted to the Samvera Community List; subscription to this group is open to all. Technical discussions occur as needed on the Samvera Tech List; subscription to this group is also open to all. Increasingly technical discussions occur on the Samvera Slack team. All are welcome to join us on Slack, and it’s easy to request an invitation.

How can I get involved in the Hyku project?

Let’s talk! Contact the Hyku project team and let us know where your interests lie.

I have an idea for a feature or functionality that Hyku should support. Do you want to hear it?

Yes, we do! Please send us an email. If you have a GitHub account, feel free to submit your ideas directly in the Hyku repo.