Three options for publishing interoperable and re-usable metadata about agricultural research information

In order to facilitate the use of good practices for the creation, management and exchange of metadata, and also motivated by the general FAO’s roles to support under-resourced member countries with limited local IT support;  FAO AIMS team has customized open source document management tools with vocabularies and metadata formats developed over the years. These customisations are AgriOcean Dspace, AgriDrupal and AgriMetamaker. Without attempting to compare these three, the information below seeks to provide users an informed reference of what the customizations are intended for.


AgriOcean DSpace (AOD)


Customisation ofDSpace 1.7.1 (JSPUI version)
Drupal 6Drupal 6
Type of softwareDigital repository management systemContent Management SystemWeb form
Type of contentDocuments, maps, images, and data setsWeb pages, documents, news, events, vacancies, corporate bodies, and persons
PartnersHasselt University, Institute of Biology of the Southern Seas (IBSS), UNESCO-IOC/IODE and Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations
Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR), Consorcio para el Desarrollo Sostenible de la Ecorregión Andina (CONDESAN) and Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations
Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations
DescriptionDSpace is an open source and freely available software conceived for the setting up and management of open repositories. DSpace focuses on managing digital content and digital preservation. It is based on a solid community of DSpace users and developers. It is possible to customize it and extend it.
AOD is a customization of DSpace based on specific information management standards widely used in the agricultural, aquatic and marine sciences. AOD supports the use of rich metadata element set and subject vocabularies/authority control for the description of any type of information, like journal contributions, books, conference contribution, research report, working papers, theses or other like preprints.  The main features introduced by AOD are the following:
  • exposure of records through the OAI-PMH protocol supporting metadata formats like AGRIS AP and  MODS;
  • indexing with ASFA and AGROVOC terms;
  • authority control features for journal title;
  • submission base on type of document;
  • easy to install version for Windows
  • up-to-date lay-out: personalizable standard
  • batch import for AGRIS AP, MODS and EndNote

AOD is based on the out-of-the-box DSpace, which its main features and functionalities are:

  • self-archiving and submission process
  • different submission workflows
  • management of digital objects
  • varierty of digital format and content types are supported
  • two levels of search
  • persistent identifiers (handle)
  • long-term physical storage
  • OAI compliancy and RSS esposure
Drupal is a free open source content management system with support for managing digital content configuring the underlying metadata model and RDF model.
The added value of AgriDrupal compared to a vanilla installation of Drupal is that an AgriDrupal installation already contains the necessary content types, taxonomies and views to manage a basic web-based information system. 
AgriDrupal is conceived as a light and easy-to-use tool - it requires a basic LAMPP environment - whose adoption can be sustainable also in small institutions with little information technology support.
AgriDrupal is appropriate for institutions that need to:
  • manage several types of information in one website, including a document repository;
  • integrate a repository search and browse interface into the website;
  • implement custom content models or metadata models;
  • exchange metadata.

The document repository features of AgriDrupal include:·        

  • a cataloguing interface used description and cataloguing standards that includes Dublin Core elements and AGRIS AP elements;
  • internal authority lists for authors (personal and corporate), publishers, journals and conferences;
  • special input interface for selecting AGROVOC terms for subject indexing;
  • exposure of records through the OAI-PMH protocol, supporting the Dublin Core and AGRIS AP formats;
  • exposure of records also as RDF feed and XML file;
  • extensible import and harvesting functionalities
AGRIMetaMaker is a Drupal Web form to publish metadata in the AGRIS repository. It is intended for any center with no document management system.
The main features of AgriMetamaker are the following:
  • a cataloguing interface that provides the metadata elements present in AGRIS AP
  • submission of records to the AGRIS team who would upload them on the AGRIS repository.
CommunityAOD is a decentralized community that includes developers and users. At the moment the community is composed by more than 50 persons. The AOD community participates actively in the DSpace Community Advisory Team which its primary goal is to help review and facilitate community-wide discussions about new feature requests.
The AgriDrupal community is made up of people who have been experimenting with information management solutions with Drupal. Some members of the AgriDrupal community are also members of the general Drupal community and have contributed modules or solutions also there.not applicable
SupportOn the AIMS website there is a discussion group set-up for those that are interested in the software and want to post questions/comments or simply have access to the ongoing forum discussions. It is oriented to solve general questions, news, events, announcements, and discussions about non-technical aspects - features and functions, services - but also technical questions - migration and import from other information management systems.
On the AIMS Website there is a discussion group where the community can post news and technical questions. Since AgriDrupal uses modules that have been published in the Drupal community, support can easily be found in the large Drupal community of developers and users (over 780,000 active members).Support isprovided by the AGRIS team to centres who want to use the AgriMetamaker via the AGRIS webpages.


AOD has available documentation on how to install, configure, and administer; and also how to submit and use AOD from an end user’s point of view.  A page with a definition for each type of document is also ready for use.
A testing environment has been prepared to explore the AOD functionalities where users can log in and get a feel of the AOD customisation.
All the documentation about DSpace functionaties is also available at the DSpace official website.
Instructions on how to install AgriDrupal and instructions on how to install the AgriDrupal Features in any Drupal website are available here. A testing environment is available where users can experiment with various functionalities of the customization.
General documentation on Drupal and its contributed modules is also available on the Drupal website. 
AgriMetamaker has available documentation on how to access, use and export the generated metadata.
Programming language


StoragePostgreSQL Relational Database Management System (RDMBS)
MySQL (also portable to PostgreSQL)MySQL
AOD is available at Google Code in source code and as an easy-to-install version for Windows.
AgriDrupal is available as package  and Features. The AGROVOC module is available here and can be installed indipendently.
No installation is required
SearchAOD uses the out-of-box functionalities of DSpace searching at metadata and full text level.AgriDrupal uses Drupal views filters for searching metadata. For big repositories, it is possible to connect AgriDrupal to an Apache Solr instance to perform faster searches.
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WorkflowAOD workflows allow submissions to be checked before entering the repository. Submissions may be checked for accuracy, in order to improve the metadata, or simply to decide if they are OK to be archived. AOD uses the workflow of DSpace which has three steps:
1. Accept/Reject Step
This step is used to allow a user to simply accept an item, or reject it. If they reject it, they can give a reason which will be emailed to the submitter. The item will appear back in the submitter’s ‘My DSpace’ if it is rejected.
2. Accept/Reject/Edit Metadata Step
This step is used to allow a user to either accept or reject and item, and edit its metadata. If they reject it, they can give a reason which will be emailed to the submitter. The item will appear back in the submitter’s ‘My DSpace’ if it is rejected.
3. Edit Metadata Step
This step is used to allow the user to edit the metadata. This might be done to correct the metadata, or to improve it.
Any or all of the steps may be used. Workflow steps are worked through in order. If step 1 and 3 are selected, step 1 must be completed before step 3 will be initiated.
The default publication workflow in AgriDrupal is based on the Permissions system (creating, editing any, editing own, publishing any, deleting any, deleting own…).
Additional workflow rules (add comments, notify, change value of a field etc.) can be added with the Rules module, 
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Import of metadataAOD provides for the import possibility of individual items in AGRIS AP, MODS and Endnote. A batch import module on browser level for RIS and Bibtex files, with a possibility to upload in AGRIS AP is also possible.
AgriDrupal comes with some default import functionalities that accept the following formats: RSS for news and extended with AgEvent AP for events and AgJob AP for vacancies; and AGRIS AP XML for documents. Additional importers can be built through a GUI. Formats that can be imported: XML, CSV.
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User InterfaceAOD provides capabilities for browsing collection by communities and collections, article issue dates, authors, titles and subjects. Within the results of these entry points users can rank the results to their preferences.
The Lucene search engine, provides both simple search and advanced search functionalities and these are supported for PDFs, Ms Word, HTML and text documents. The advanced search makes possible to search by communities, and by specific fileds like author, title, subject, abstract, series, sponsor, identifier and language (ISO).
Registered users can create subscriptions to alert them when new items are deposited in the collection, or emails can be received periodically as preset by the administrator.
AgriDrupal comes with a navigation that can be easily modified by the administrators.
The default horizontal navigation gives an overview of the contents of the website, including static pages, news, events and vacancies. The left vertical navigation allows to search and browse the repository, the directories and the reference/authority lists.
Users can browse the document repository by subject, title, author, journal or conference, or search it through the advanced search, which allows to search by almost all available fields and can be easily modified by administrators by adding / removing search fields.
The directories of other content types can also be searched through a simple and an advanced search.
The AGRIMetaMaker facilitates that metadata is exposed through the AGRIS database when searched by AGRIS search engine.
LanguageLanguage interfaces are supported in English, French, Russian and Ukrainian (other languages with partial translation are also available like in original DSpace). Additional language collaborations are very much welcome.
The language of the interface is English. The administrative interface allows to add as many languages as desired and to translate the interface into the new languages.Language interface is supported in English.
MetadataAOD has customized a metadata model compliant with general description and cataloguing standards. It supports the exposure of different metadata formats via OAI, like DC, AGRIS AP and MODS. As a practical thing, AOD uses a document type based submission, each document type has a different metadata field set.
AgriDrupal manages metadata in compliance with recommended standards, when they exist, for the various content types managed.
AgriDrupal uses DC, AGRIS AP, AgEvent AP, AgJob AP for vacancies,                  RSS and FOAF.
AgriMetamaker uses AGRIS AP metadata elements.
Subject vocabularies & authority control
It is possible to index content using subject vocabularies. At the moment AOD supports AGROVOC and ASFA thesauri. AOD also comes with a journal title authority control system with 37,000 records, from ASFA and AGRIS journal lists, and also authority files for authors and conferences. For each selected AGROVOC term, the URI is stored together with the labels in all the languages enabled in the repository.
AgriDrupal allows to use AGROVOC and/or the AGRIS Subject Categories for subject indexing.
For each selected AGROVOC term, the URI is stored together with the labels in all the languages enabled in the website.
AgriDrupal uses internal authority lists for authors, publishers, journals and conferences.
AgriMetamaker supports AGROVOC, AGRIS Subject Categories, authority control for journals, authors and corporate bodies.


InteroperabilityDSpace supports OAI-PMH v.2.0 as a data provider. In addition to DC, AOD exposes metadata formats like AGRIS AP and  MODS.
The RSS feeds in AOD apply to each collection, community, and system-wide. RSS feeds at each level show the latest items to have been added to that area.
For documents, AgriDrupal implements an OAI-PMH data provider interface, supporting the DC and AGRIS AP metadata formats.
For all other contents, AgriDrupal provides extended RSS feeds, both 1.0 (RDF) and 2.0.
not applicable
Access rightsProvided on community, collection and item level
Configurable through the Drupal permissions system, based on roles.
not applicable
Versioning system


not applicableIf needed, versioning can be configured for specific content types through the Drupal GUI.
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StatisticsAOD provides users with the ability to generate statistics of article views and downloads. Statistics can be views per Community, per Collection and per individual article. Results can be grouped as total visits ; top country views and top city views.
The AgriDrupal package comes with the basic Drupal core statistics module, which can be enabled by the administrator.
For better statistics, the Statistics Pro module or Google Analytics can be used.
For statistics of downloads, the “private” upload method should be enabled and an additional module should be installed.
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Preservation StrategyAOD provides storage and preservation management services to ensure the longevity of deposited materials.
not applicablenot applicable
Persistent linksAOD uses the Handle System for persistent identifiers.
AgriDrupal only uses the basic Drupal node URLs (with unique IDs) as persistent identifiers.
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