Authors: Roel Janssen, Egbert Gramsbergen, Madeleine de Smaele, Marta Teperek, Iulia Popescu
We are very pleased to announce that 4TU.ResearchData is taking the strategic choice to go free and open source! We are planning to go live with our in-house developed open source software repository in March this year.
Motivations for going open source
Almost three years ago, we procured figshare as the repository software to run 4TU.ResearchData. We were pleased with the functionalities which figshare offered as well as with the quality of the support available.
However, in the past few years 4TU.ResearchData has been significantly investing in building an active community of researchers and support staff around its data repository. Our community is increasingly tech-savvy and started coming up with strong wishes to make improvements to the software operating 4TU.ResearchData, or even proposing co-development of new solutions. Unfortunately, the use of proprietary software made it impossible for us to embrace the wish of the community to shape the technical development of 4TU.ResearchData.
Furthermore, we came to realise that only by facilitating community-driven development, we can work towards sustainable infrastructures, which are agile and able to quickly respond to changing community needs. In other words, by co-developing and partnering with the research community, we invest in solutions which are valued and needed.
Lastly, 4TU.ResearchData, as well as all its institutional members, support Open Science and many have their own Open Science Programmes running at their home institutions. So it is time to walk the walk and to make sure that the tools we are using to run our infrastructure are open as well. This is also important from the perspective of our digital sovereignty.
Hence, with unanimous support of the Board of 4TU.ResearchData, we have taken a strategic decision to move to free and open source software.
Why not re-use?
The logical move, in the spirit of open science, would be to re-use and adapt an existing open source software. However, given the unique features that make the 4TU.ResearchData repository, none of the existing solutions turned out to be a good fit. Therefore have incrementally implemented a repository system from backward-compatibility layer towards the next 4TU.ResearchData repository system.
In conclusion, we have developed a repository software, which we named Djehuty, after an Egyptian god who invented writing.
Where are we now?
Well… in a bit more than a year spent developing the software, we are almost ready to go. We are planning to go into production in March this year.
In the meantime:
- The code is open source since June 30, 2022: https://github.com/4TUResearchData/djehuty
- Test version is available (and has been tested): https://next.data.4tu.nl/portal
- At the time of writing the software project counts 1714 commits done by 7 people of which 4 are members of the 4TU.ResearchData technical team.
Finally, we wanted to stress that all this would not have been possible without a team and support of numerous colleagues:
- The 4TU.ResearchData technical team: Roel Janssen (senior developer), Madeleine de Smaele (repository manager), Egbert Gramsbergen (data engineer), Kees den Heijer (former team member), Ardi Nonhebel (former team member)
- Our community managers and community coordinators: Alessandra Soro (community manager) and Connie Clare (former community manager)
- Contributors to the code base outside of the technical team: Frederique Belliard, Arie Braat, Catherina Vaendel
- Community members who were particularly generous with their feedback and support: Giordano Lipari, Serkan Girgin, Ashley Cryan, Heather Andrews, Jose Urra, all data stewards from TU Delft, TU/e, the University of Twente, WUR, DCC team at TU Delft, colleagues from ICT Innovation department at TU Delft
- The Board of 4TU.ResearchData who unanimously supported community-driven, free and open source development as the strategic direction for 4TU.ResearchData: Hubert Krekels, Irene Haslinger, Alastair Dunning, Wiljan Puttenstein, Wendy Ginkel, Marjolein Dohmen-Janssen, Iza Witkowska (ex-Board member), Marjolein Drent (ex-Board member)
- The Management Team of the TU Delft Library which hosts us and who trusted us from the start and empowered us to experiment and innovate: Irene Haslinger, Alastair Dunning, Karin Clavel, Ingrid Klok
- ICT colleagues from all partner institutions: Arie van Nistelrooij, Joost Bengsch, Mark Schenk, Lolke Boonstra, Peter van Boheemen, Willem Oosting, Hyeokjin Kwon, Andjela Tomic, Hendri Hondorp, Ingeborg Ahlers
- 4TU.ResearchData non-technical team: Jan van der Heul, Eric Rumondor, Iulia Popescu, Paula Martinez Lavanchy, Carlos Utrilla Guerrero, Zita Bernhoeft, Deirdre Casella (ex-member)
- Colleagues from Zenodo and Dryad teams, who gave us critical feedback when we needed it most: Tracy Teal, Daniella Lowenberg, Tim Smith, Jose Benito Gonzalez Lopez, Lars Holm Nielsen, Alex Ioannidis
- Other colleagues who supported our work and engaged in helpful discussions with us: Sarah Jones
And many, many others!
Stay tuned to hear more about Djehuty, an official announcement will follow shortly.