Islandora Camp Vancouver: Community Support, The CLAW, Scalability, and Migrating a Million Objects

Islandora Camp Vancouver: Community Support, The CLAW, Scalability, and Migrating a Million Objects

Location, Location, Location: Vancouver! 

Recently PALS staff member Alex Kent attended the Islandora Camp at Vancouver, BC, July 18-20th.  This is the second Islandora Camp held at Vancouver, BC.  I think we know why the Islandora community likes holding conferences at Vancouver:

Vancouver Harbor

Vancouver was gorgeous, sunny, and at perfect temperatures pretty much the whole time.   It was gray only on Monday evening.  The evidence (photo taken in Stanley Park):

Bridge at Stanley Park

Community Support

Aside from the great location, the Camp itself reminded me again why I love the Islandora DAM solution.  It isn’t the technology or the software itself, but the community behind it.  This manifested in practical ways for us.  We had a few issues that we wanted to bring to the community at the Camp.  One was small but rather annoying, but it impacted the usability of Minnesota State University Mankato’s repository in a negative way.  When one tried to print, you would get this rather ugly output :Printing

That isn’t usable.  While at Camp I was able to talk with the right people and after some brainstorming, they thought it had to do with the Drupal theme we were using: if you used a Command+Print or Ctrl+Print, the functionality worked just fine.  That was our clue.  When I got back from Camp, our Drupal guru investigated the theme and was able fix it.  This is just one example.   Sometimes it’s just a lot easier to troubleshoot and brainstorm in person.  Especially with a room full of Islandorians (42, exactly):Camp attendees

The Islandora CLAW

What does the CLAW have to do with Islandora? Islandora CLAW is the “next generation of Islandora.”  Everyone got tired of trying to use numbers, so instead of saying Islandora 8.1 – Whatever, the community adopted the name CLAW.  It’s because the lobster is the official mascot of the Islandora community, since Islandora was developed at the University of Prince Edward Island, and PEI is known for friendly lobsters.

Which CLAW are we talking about? The cute one.  On the left.

Islandora CLAWs

For slides from the State of the CLAW presentation, click here.

The main goals for the CLAW are:

  • Utilize Fedora 4 and Drupal to the fullest
  • Easier to use
    • Better user experience
    • Faster searching, display, ingest
    • Expose more control through UI
  • Easier to install and configure
  • Easier to develop and contribute
  • Easier to scale
  • Community based design

And, Islandora will no longer be middleware.

So while the Islandora Burger remains completely appropriate and applicable to current Islandora, the fun diagram shifts from the burger, to well, a lobster.

Note: The following are not my drawings.  I’m not that good.  They are from the State of the Claw Address presentation given at the Camp.

Current diagram of Islandora software stack:

Islandora Burger Sketch

The new CLAW ecosystem:

Islandora CLAW sketch

Islandora Objects as Drupal Nodes

I am very excited to see the shift to make Islandora more “Drupalized” or Drupal-friendly.  With the new upcoming version, you will be able to use Islandora content like Drupal nodes.  In other words it will be a lot easier for Drupal to work with and talk to Islandora digital objects.  Which means a lot more cool stuff that you can do.


Also CLAW is focusing on scalability.  In a recent webinar by Discovery Garden, they announced the “‘Trippi-Sail Triplestore Adapter”, which address a major performance drag when repositories grow to over 50 million objects.  This module is available now and can be used.  It sounds like it will be a great long-term solution for scalability issues with Islandora, and will help Islandora in the long run.  The official release for this module can be found here:

Migration: 1.3 Million objects

Simon Fraser University, our hosts, had a highly informative presentation on their experience migration 1.3 million objects! It’s highly encouraging to know that this can be done.  They developed some System Admin oriented tools along the way for the community, so it should be easier for the rest of us in the future.  All of these tools are available on Git Hub:


Thank you to Simon Fraser University for being great hosts! I was told the Bento box at lunch the second day (it was catering through SFU) wasn’t that great, but it tasted good to me.  SFU kept us well fed throughout, with coffee, which is always appreciated.

Bento Box

I had three major takeaways from this Camp.  First, the community around Islandora is awesomely supportive! It’s always great to stay in touch and meet new people.  The community around Islandora to me, more than anything, ensures that it will remain a strong, viable DAM solution for years to come.

It’s great to see the community and developers tackling Scalability. This will really solidify Islandora as a solution.  I think they are making the right choices and looking to the future with open eyes.

The third is that it’s also great to know that others have tackled large million + item migrations, and have contributed tools back to the community to help everyone.

I’m always excited by the community surrounding Islandora.  These Camps are invaluable to all who can attend.


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