Getting to Know Islandora 8

Islandora lobster

Getting to Know Islandora 8

In Islandora 7, Drupal acts as a “front-end” for Fedora. Fedora is designed for the management and dissemination of digital content. Fedora IS NOT designed to handle the management, indexing, discovery, and delivery of digital content. That functionality gets added by Islandora. The Islandora 7 Drupal modules translate user actions into something that Fedora can understand and translate information from Fedora in a user-friendly way. Fedora is not an optional component of an Islandora 7 repository; it is the primary datastore.

Contrast this with Islandora 8 where Drupal, and not Fedora, is the primary source of all aspects of an Islandora 8 object, and, with some variations, Drupal, not Fedora, is the primary datastore in an Islandora repository. This is a major functionality shift that has huge benefits for developers, integrators, and users alike, such as:

  • New functionality is much easier to add if there is a supported Drupal module (and there are A LOT of Drupal modules).
  • Workflow for repository managers is streamlined.
  • There is a lot less customized Islandora code needed to turn a Drupal website into a fully-functional Digital Assets Management System.
  • There are more options beyond the local file system for where objects can be stored.
  • Even though there are a lot of changes to the back end the user interface won’t change much, if at all.

Because Islandora content is Drupal content, migrations and batch editing can be done through Drupal’s built-in migrate framework and controlled vocabularies created using Drupal taxonomies. Contributed Drupal modules such as Solr Search API enables in-site search, and Matomo Analytics provides usage metrics for site analytics.

Fun Fact: The name Drupal represents an English rendering of the Dutch word druppel, which means “drop” (as in a water droplet). The name came from the now-defunct website, whose code slowly evolved into Drupal.



  • Rod is a System and Networking Administrator at PALS and the Technical Lead for Islandora.

  • Alex is the Digital Initiatives Librarian for PALS and has worked with Islandora since 2013.