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Demo for Sprint 126

The Avalon team's demo for sprint 126 is now available for viewing.


The following features are shown in our latest public demo video:

  • Michael Klein shows Avalon running in the cloud on Amazon Web Services.
  • Brian Keese demonstrates the Player API, allowing for control of Avalon's embedded player by simple javascript.
  • Chris Colvard demonstrates features of the Avalon 5 to Avalon 6 migration tool.

Watch Demo 126 here:


To view all demos, here's our Avalon collection:


Our waffle board#Avalon slack chat on the HydraPartners channel and our renewed commitment to shareable sprint demos are all measures to bring community insight and inspiration to the Avalon code and design.




Avalon Receives New IMLS Grant

We are pleased to announce that the libraries of Northwestern University and Indiana University have been awarded a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to support continued work on Avalon as part of a project titled Avalon Media System: Integrating audiovisual collections with research, digital preservation, and a sustainable developer community.


The aim of this two-year project is to increase adoption of Avalon within the library and archives community by enhancing the value proposition of Avalon and carrying out work to help ensure sustainability:


1.   Integrate Avalon within the Hydra community. We will adapt Avalon to make use of the current Hydra open source repository software stack and will engage members of the Hydra community in development through community sprints. We will also increase the modularity of Avalon so that its components can be more easily integrated into other Hydra-based repository systems, including Hydra-in-a-Box, to provide time-based media access.

2.   Implement a cloud-hosted Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) version of Avalon. We will work with Lyrasis and DuraSpace on the establishment of a hosted SaaS offering by conducting pilots to help provide cost modeling for Avalon as a cloud based service. 

3.   Connect Avalon to media preservation systems and workflows. We will connect Avalon to long-term digital preservation solutions and improve interoperability with workflow and management tools in order to provide a complete AV preservation and access platform, including work with Artefactual Systems to integrate Avalon with the Archivematica platform.

4.   Enable interoperability with scholarly tools. The Avalon technical team will take a leadership role with the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) by contributing to the creation of the IIIF AV interoperability spec and providing a demonstration implementation. 


The functional enhancements to Avalon in the areas of preservation and interoperability with scholarly tools and the support for sustainability generated through SaaS implementation and greater development engagement within the Hydra community will improve the ability of libraries and archives to integrate robust AV media delivery into their digital collections practices and increase the AV collections available as part of the national digital library platform.


For more information, see the IMLS press release and IMLS grant summary.


Avalon Media System 6.0

We are pleased to announce the release of Avalon Media System 6.0 -- the first official release of Avalon running on Fedora 4. Over the last year, the teams at Indiana University and Northwestern University have worked to redevelop Avalon on Fedora 4 using the latest Hydra components. This release offers full-feature parity with Avalon 5.1. In addition, key areas of the application were retooled to improve performance of complex media objects with many sections.
Highlights include:
--Updated to use current releases of Hydra components
--New installation methods, including official images for Docker
--Preview version of Avalon 5.x to Avalon 6 migration tool (full migration tool release coming soon)
--Full-feature parity with 5.1
For more information about the release, see:
If you have any questions, feel free to email any member of the team, ask questions through the Avalon discussion list;, or ping us on Slack.

Demo for Sprint 119

The Avalon team's demo for sprint 119 is now available for viewing.


This demo highlights the interface for Avalon 6.0's migration tool. Viewable within the application, this tool allows system administrators to view detailed information about the migration in an easy to read, hyperlinked table. Information displayed includes IDs for Fedora records and database items, successes and failure across object classes, and detailed information about items which have failed to migrate properly.


Watch here: 

Demo 119: 


To view all demos, here's our Avalon collection:


Please note we will have an upcoming 5.1.5 release coming soon and 6.0 is on the near horizon. 


Our waffle board#Avalon slack chat on the HydraPartners channel and our renewed commitment to shareable sprint demos are all measures to bring community insight and inspiration to the Avalon code and design.

Demos for Sprints 115 & 117



The Avalon team's demo for sprints 115 & 117 are now available for viewing.


115’s demo highlights:

“Second Scrubber”

·      Extra view on track (or segment) level metadata for an item in Avalon.

·      Corresponds in time and length in offset.

·      Key feature for Variations migration.


“Avalon Wipeout”

·      Back-end tool for wiping out data on server side.

·      Not using active Fedora code to delete or destroy, going straight to Fedora and Solr and issuing delete commands directly including destroying all Fedora tombstones and PIDs that are deleted.

·      Goes to source, deletes everything quickly.



117’s demo – Enhancements/Bug Fixes for 5.1.5

·      Initial load is faster, switching between items is faster. (miliseconds)

·      Second scrubber user enhancements for cleaner navigation.


Watch here: 

Demo 115:

Demo 117:



To view all demos, here's our Avalon collection:


Please note we will have an upcoming 5.1.5 release coming soon and 6.0 is on the near horizon. 


Our waffle board, #Avalon slack chat on the HydraPartners channel and our renewed commitment to shareable sprint demos are all measures to bring community insight and inspiration to the Avalon code and design.



Avalon and Cultural Anthropology


This past May, the Society for Cultural Anthropology (SCA) was awarded a grant from the American Anthropological Association's Committee on the Future of Print and Electronic Publishing to create a sustainable infrastructure for the hosting and preservation of audio and video content published in Cultural Anthropology, and with that announcement came news of the SCA's vision to use Avalon as their streaming media content tool.  

In the Editors’ Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, 30.1 "Circles Not Pyramids," Dominic Boyer, James Faubion and Cymene Howe set up an important use case for Avalon and academic publishing. "Anthropologists have long discussed the desirability of multimedia ethnography, and innovative projects like Ethnographic Terminalia have given us tantalizing glimpses of what is now possible in installation-style formats. We believe that there is no better time than now to reimagine the traditional scholarly journal article, especially in fields like anthropology with its richly and variously sensuous research. With digital affordances we need no longer restrict ourselves to the conventions of the printed article, even as we respect their rationale. New ethnographic modalities are beckoning."
As Marcel LaFlamme, managing editor of Cultural Anthropology wrote in the announcement of the award, "The Cultural Anthropology website already uses commercial services like SoundCloud and Vimeo to embed audio and video content, but these services are minimally integrated with discovery tools central to scholarly communication, they are built on closed, rather than open-source software, and they have no particular commitment to the preservation of digital media as part of an enduring scholarly record. Therefore, Cultural Anthropology will become the first scholarly journal to integrate Avalon Media System, an open-source platform for managing and providing access to digital audio and video collections, into its publication workflows."  


Aside from the seamless integration for presentation purposes, SCA understands the important services Avalon provides them. "Given the strong interest in enhanced multimedia capabilities at many of our sister journals, the project is intended to serve as a proof-of-concept for a scalable approach to preserving and displaying multimedia content across the AAA [American Anthropological Association] portfolio."  


This month, the latest issue of Cultural Anthropology was released, with audio and video tracks embedded within the journal's articles, and the Indiana University (IU) Libraries have entered into an agreement with AAA to host Cultural Anthropology's media content in IU's production instance of Avalon, Media Collections Online. The new issue includes an editorial describing the origins of the Sound + Vision project, and all three Sound + Vision articles include some degree of integration with Avalon. Stefan Helmreich's "Gravity's Reverb: Listening to Space-Time, or Articulating the Sounds of Gravitational-Wave Detection," does so most extensively, while the other two articles link to media files hosted in Avalon by the IU Libraries in the PDF version.


The staff at Cultural Anthropology welcomes any feedback that you might have (or might come across as you share the issue within the Avalon community), so please let us know what you think!  





Migrating from Variations to Avalon

One of the past projects that led to the development of Avalon is the Variations digital music library system. In fact, the original name of the Avalon project was “Variations on Video.” Variations was originally developed under a partnership between Indiana University and IBM in the mid-1990s and represented one of the first audio streaming services and first digital repositories of music content on the Internet when it went online in 1996. In the early 2000s, a major grant from the National Science Foundation led to a new implementation of Variations that added many tools to support pedagogical and scholarly use of music content and explored relational models for music metadata, and a grant from IMLS in the mid-2000s led to the release of Variations as an open source software system for use by libraries and institutions beyond IU.


Now, as we mark the 20th anniversary of Variations, the Variations code base is nearing the end of its lifespan, as technological changes make it no longer possible to maintain in its current form. In particular, QuickTime for Java is no longer being supported or developed by Apple, making it difficult or impossible to run the Variations client on modern versions of Windows and Mac OS.


This past summer, Indiana University successfully migrated its 28,000 audio items from Variations to Avalon 5.1. Both systems are being used in parallel during the Fall 2016 semester, and at the end of December, IU’s Variations instance will be decommissioned. IU is currently planning to move its musical scores currently in Variations to a Hydra application based on Princeton University Library’s Plum.


Each institution implementing Variations has made a number of local choices that make it impossible to create a one-size-fits-all recipe for moving from Variations to Avalon, but IU and the Avalon project are happy to share the documentation and tools we have developed, in order to assist institutions that will need to undertake a similar migration.   The following is a quick links directory to getting started:  




On a new page on the Avalon wiki, you can find step-by-step details on our migration of audio files and metadata, along with copies of scripts that we developed to help with the process.  At the end of the page, we discuss how we set up access restrictions and other collection and item level permissions.  




Avalon has a built-in Variations Playlist File importer, and you can find more information regarding importing playlists here:




Variations bookmarks may be exported to JSON and imported into Avalon as playlists, and you can find more information in this gist:



If you have additional questions or would like advice on how to handle your specific migration situation, please post to the avalon-discuss-l mailing list for follow up.






Cloud-based Hosting Announcements

One of the major goals of the current phase of Avalon, supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is evolving Avalon to include a hosted software-as-a-service (SaaS) option in order to help grow the Avalon user base.


The Avalon team is excited to announce 3 recent steps made towards cloud-based, hosted solutions:


1)   The Avalon team has successfully completed a number of necessary upgrades towards cloud based services.


Our team has a proof-of-concept implementation Avalon 5.1 running Amazon Web Services (AWS), taking advantage of AWS services such as Amazon Elastic Transcoder and CloudFront Streaming.


As of the upcoming Avalon 6.0 release (currently available in an Alpha test version), Avalon runs on Fedora 4.  This includes new data models, an update to Hydra 10 and Solr and Ruby upgrades.


2)    The Avalon team is partnering with Lyrasis and DuraSpace to explore a SaaS offering of Avalon by Lyrasis that would leverage DuraCloud for preservation storage. 


Our first step is to gauge interest in such a service as well as to identify potential pilot participants. To help us with this assessment, we would appreciate it if you could fill out the following survey:


3)   Data Curation Experts has announced that they will offer hosted Avalon as a service beginning in January 2017.


This offering includes installation, setup and support of an Avalon instance in AWS for institutions who may not have the infrastructure or staff to spin up their own instance of Avalon or may want to start with Avalon in the cloud and eventually move it in house.




Announcing Avalon 5.1




Release 5.1 is a feature improvements release.

  • Markers (labeled time offsets) available in Playlist items for annotation and navigation
  • Tools for institutions moving from Variations to Avalon  

     *Self-service import of Variations playlist files into Avalon playlist

     *Migration tools for system administrators to import user bookmarks in Variations to Avalon

  • Minor bug fixes

     *Apostrophes in media object titles causing load failures

     *Various smart phone page display tweaks

     *Improved error handling for uploading


Users of Avalon 5.0.1 and previous releases can take advantage of these new features by Upgrading to Avalon 5.1.

For more details on each of these new features, visit: What’s New in Avalon 5 wiki page or our github.    

Please feel free to try Avalon 5.1 on our public test server before installation.
     *Installation options include virtual machine image, manual installation, and puppet upgrade. 

More information on all available options can be found on the Avalon web site’s download page:

We welcome your feedback on Avalon 5.1 via the avalon-discuss-l discussion list.   Join the discussion list at





Sprint 104: Markers, Variations Migration Tool, AWS mapping

The Avalon team's demo for sprint 104 is now available for viewing.



104 focused on:

·     Finishing new playlist features for 5.

·     Fedora 4 model investigations for Avalon 6.0 release.

·     Tool for Variations bookmarks to import into Avalon 5.  

·     Preparation for AWS pilot.


104’s demo highlights:

·     Markers (available ONLY within an Avalon playlist) are time points within an item you can name, and refer to visually on the media player.

·     Variations migrations tool: a configurable button to help Variations users move bookmarks into their instance of Avalon. 

·     First draft of diagram of Avalon in the cloud running on AWS.  



Watch the demo here:

To view all demos, here's our Avalon collection:




Please note our upcoming point release this week:

5.1 – improved 5.0 feature releases, specifically playlist features. 



Our waffle board#Avalon slack chat on the HydraPartners channel and our renewed commitment to shareable sprint demos are all measures to bring community insight and inspiration to the Avalon code and design.