Islandora CLAW FAQ

Last week was Islandoracon, our community's biggest gathering. We had a great week (and there will be more on that in another post), and a chance to unveil an early alpha version of the Islandora CLAW Minimum Viable Product. This first look at the product also kicked off a lot of questions, so we decided to gather them together with some answers:

When will Islandora CLAW be done?

Islandora CLAW won’t be done until it is deprecated in favor of whatever comes after it in the distant future. Islandora is an active community that constantly builds new tools and improves existing ones.

The Islandora CLAW MVP is scheduled for beta release at the end of June, 2017. The timeline for a full release will depend on community engagement and what features we map out together as necessary for the next phase.

The Islandora CLAW MVP does not do [thing that we really really need]. Are we going to be left behind?

The Islandora CLAW Minimum Viable Product is just a jumping-off point. Since we recognize that it can be challenging to review and comment meaningfully on a concept or a technical spec, the MVP version of CLAW is intended to give the Islandora community a tangible product to work with so that you can engage with the project and help to make sure your use cases are a part of the software as development continues.

Completing the MVP is a beginning for more community-driven development, with a very basic start on a product that the community can now test out and respond to.

How do I join in?

A good place to start is the CONTRIBUTING.md file included on all Islandora CLAW modules. It outlines how to submit a use case, feature request, improvement, or bug report. It also has details about our weekly meetings (‘CLAW Calls’), which are open for anyone to join.

While the meetings may seem very technical, we really mean it when we say anyone is welcome add items to the agenda. If we seem to spend most of our calls discussing very technical issues, that’s because we fall back on tickets and issues when no one has given us something more general to dig into. If you have questions or concerns, putting it on the agenda ensures that there is time and attention reserved for what you need to discuss.

You are also welcome to join the call and not say a thing. We take attendance, but that’s all the participation that’s required. If you would like to just listen to the discussion and get a feel for how things are going, lurking is a popular option, and a way that some very active contributors got their start.

You can also learn more about Islandora CLAW from these introductory pages:

Details of the MVP are here.

What is the MODSPOLCALYPSE? Are we losing MODS in CLAW?

The term “MODSPOCALYPSE” is an exaggeration made in jest about the fact that Islandora CLAW will have to deal with legacy MODS XML in a linked data/RDF world. While CLAW handles RDF as its native language (like Fedora 4), MODS is doable if we put in the work. The challenge is in mapping MODS to RDF, and that’s something we need to do as a community. If we can come together and agree on a standard mapping, the technical implementation will be relatively easy

Because this is not just an issue for Islandora, lot of work has already been done by the MODS and RDF Descriptive Metadata Subgroup in the Hydra community. To help achieve this vital mapping, please join as the Islandora Metadata Interest Group takes the lead on community discussions for Islandora.

Instead of a MODSPOCALYPSE, let’s consider this our “RDFnaissance.”

Will we have XML Form Builder in Islandora CLAW?

XML Form Builder is an amazing tool that plays an important role in Islandora 7.x. It is also an extremely complex tool that carries a significant maintenance burden that is challenging to meet even in the 7.x stack. Reproducing it in Islandora CLAW is unlikely to happen unless an institution or group in the community adopts it as a project and donates the work to the Islandora Foundation.

Editable metadata forms are definitely going to continue to be a part of Islandora CLAW. They are being handled in Drupal, which should be a more sustainable and accessible approach for both developers and end-users.

How long will Islandora 7.x be supported?

Islandora 7.x will be supported as long as the Islandora community needs for it to be supported. The goal of developing CLAW is not to push adoption, but to prepare for it when the majority of the Islandora community wants to move. As with other major upgrades we’ve been through, we will likely see a few institutions lead the way with early adoption, with a gradual migration of other sites as more tools are built and the path to migrate is mapped out by those trailblazers. The time to officially end support for Islandora 7.x will be when most of the Islandora community is done with it, just as we did with 6.x.

It’s also important to note that “ending support” does not mean it cannot still be used. We will (eventually, well down the road) end active development of new features and improvements, and then bug fixes on longer timeline, but there are still many Islandora 6.x sites out in the world more than three years after we officially ended its support. Fedora 3 is itself no longer supported by its community, but it remains a stable platform that hasn’t become less stable for no longer being actively improved.