A short update on Repository specs

The end of summer, with people coming back from their holidays, seems a reasonable time for a quick update on where various specification and standardization activities have got to. I’ll deal with specifications for interacting with repositories in this post; there’ll be another post soon covering metadata specifications and standards.


A project group of IMS members lead by Martin Morrey of Intrallect and David Massart of European Schoolnet is currently well advanced in writing a charter for work on Learning Object Discovery and Exchange (LODE, though originally the work went under the name of Federated Architectures). Charter writing is the first step of the IMS specification process, which essentially involves setting out the scope of a proposed specification activity. The draft charter is a private IMS document until it is approved, but there is a little information about LODE on the IMS website. My understanding is that the intention is for the LODE specification work to focus on profiling existing specs and standards for interoperability between repositories and eLearning systems. We Hope that the specification will result in an agreed protocol for searching a remote repository for resources with specific educational attributes by using, say, SRU and LOM, and to that end JISC CETIS will be providing some input into the development of this spec.

OASIS Search Web Services

An OASIS technical committee has been formed to define web services for search and retrieval based on standards such as SRU and Simple Query Interface (SQI) (and possibly others): their charter is on the OASIS website. Profiles are envisaged for applications such as bibliographic and geospatial metadata, or e-government, but not for education per se.


The Open Archive Initiative’s Object Reuse and Exchange project is working towards developing specifications that will allow repositories to exchange information about objects within them, particularly “compound information objects” or aggregations of several discrete resources. One product of the work so far is a discussion document on how such objects could be represented as named graphs in order to allow the repository to expose the constituent parts to the wider world.

Deposit API / Sword

Two years ago at the CETIS November conference, Andy Powell highlighted deposit of an object in a remote repository as area of interoperability for which there was no agreed mechanism (though there were plenty of candidates for such a mechanism). Since then UKOLN have encouraged a group of interested parties to discuss approaches, culminating in a JISC funded project Simple Web-service Offering Repository Deposit (SWORD). The protocol developed through these activities is a profile of the ATOM Publishing Protocol, and was described by Julie Allinson, the SWORD project manager at the June SIG meeting.

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