The Fascinator: A lightweight, modular contribution to the Fedora-commons world
Sefton, Peter M.
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The Australian government has supported the development of repository infrastructure for several years now. One product of this support was the ARROW project (Australian Research Repositories Online to the World). The ARROW project sponsored a hybrid commercial/open-source approach to building vendor-supported repository infrastructure with open-source underpinnings. One of the open-source contributions, which complements the vendor-sourced product adopted by many of the ARROW partners is a simple to install and configure front-end web service for Fedora repositories known as "The Fascinator". The Fascinator was conceived initially as a way to prove a point in an ongoing dialogue within the ARROW project about repository architecture. The goal was to test the hypothesis that it would be possible to build a useful, fast, flexible web front end for a repository using a single fast indexing system to handle browsing via facets, full-text search, multiple 'portal' views of subsets of a large corpus, and most importantly, easy-to administer security that could handle the most common uses cases seen in the ARROW community. This contrasted with the approach taken by ARROW's commercial partner, which used several different indices to achieve only some of the same functionality in an environment which was much more complex to manage and configure. We will give an overview of the product in both functional and technical terms. Functionally, The Fascinator offers: Click-to-create portals. Easy to configure security based on a query-based filter system, the repository owner can express security in terms of saved-searches that define what a user or group is allowed to see. Highly flexible indexing of a Fedora repository for administrators (and by extension anything the harvesting module can scrape-up). Technically, The Fascinator is a modular system, written in Java so it is easy to deploy with Fedora and Solr, consisting of: An indexing system for Fedora which builds on the standard G-Search supplied with the software, and some work done by the Muradora team. A configurable harvesting application which can ingest data from OAI-PMH, ORE, and local file systems. A web portal application which can be used to build flexible front end websites or act as a service to other sites via an HTTP API. An OAI-PMH (and ATOM archive) system which can create sub-feeds from a repository very easily without complexities like OAI-PMH sets. An easy to use installer for Unix based platforms allowing a systems administrator to install the application along with Fedora and Solr with a few keystrokes. While The Fascinator's goals were modest it has been met with some enthusiasm by repository managers in Australia and beyond, and is being trialled and/or piloted in a small number of sites across the world.