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What is DSpace REST API

The REST API module provides a programmatic interface to DSpace Communities, Collections, Items, and Bitstreams.

DSpace 4 introduced the initial REST API, which did not allow for authentication, and provided only READ-ONLY access to publicly accessible Communities, Collections, Items, and Bitstreams. DSpace 5 builds off of this and allows authentication to access restricted content, as well as allowing Create, Edit and Delete on the DSpace Objects. DSpace 5 REST API also provides improved pagination over resources and searching. There has been a minor drift between the DSpace 4 REST API and the DSpace 5 REST API, so client applications will need to be targeted per version.

Installing the REST API

The REST API deploys as a standard webapp for your servlet container / tomcat. For example, depending on how you deploy webapps, one way would be to alter tomcat-home/conf/server.xml and add:

<Context path="/rest"  docBase="/dspace/webapps/rest" />

In DSpace 4, the initial/official Jersey-based REST API was added to DSpace. The DSpace 4 REST API provides READ-ONLY access to DSpace Objects.

In DSpace 5, the REST API adds authentication, allows Creation, Update, and Delete to objects, can access restricted materials if authorized, and it requires SSL.

Disabling SSL

For localhost development purposes, SSL can add additional getting-started difficulty, so security can be disabled. To disable DSpace REST's requirement to require security/ssl, alter [dspace]/webapps/rest/WEB-INF/web.xml or [dspace-source]/dspace-rest/src/main/webapp/WEB-INF/web.xml and comment out the <security-constraint> block, and restart your servlet container. Production usages of the REST API should use SSL, as authentication credentials should not go over the internet unencrypted.

REST Endpoints

The REST API is modeled after the DSpace Objects of Communities, Collections, Items, and Bitstreams. The API is not a straight database schema dump of these entities, but provides some wrapping that makes it easy to follow relationships in the API output.

HTTP Header: Accept

Note: You must set your request header's "Accept" property to either JSON (application/json) or XML (application/xml) depending on the format you prefer to work with. 

Example usage from command line in XML format with pretty printing:

curl -s -H "Accept: application/xml" http://localhost:8080/rest/communities | xmllint --format - 

 
 

Example usage from command line in JSON format with pretty printing:

curl -s -H "Accept: application/json" http://localhost:8080/rest/communities | python -m json.tool

 

For this documentation, we will assume that the URL to the "REST" webapp will be http://localhost:8080/rest/ for production systems, this address will be slightly different, such as: https://demo.dspace.org/rest/. The path to an endpoint, will go after the /rest/, such as /rest/communities, all-together this is: http://localhost:8080/rest/communities

Another thing to note is that there are Query Parameters that you can tack on to the end of an endpoint to do extra things. The most commonly used one in this API is "?expand". Instead of every API call defaulting to giving you every possible piece of information about it, it only gives a most commonly used set by default and gives the more "expensive" information when you deliberately request it. Each endpoint will provide a list of available expands in the output, but for getting started, you can start with ?expand=all, to make the endpoint provide all of its information (parent objects, metadata, child objects). You can include multiple expands, such as: ?expand=collections,subCommunities .

Index / Authentication

REST API Authentication has changed in DSpace 6.x.  It now uses a JSESSIONID cookie (see below).  The previous (5.x) authentication scheme using a rest-dspace-token is no longer supported.

MethodEndpointDescription
GET/REST API static documentation page
POST/login

Login to the REST API using a DSpace EPerson (user). It returns a JSESSIONID cookie, that can be used for future authenticated requests.

Example Request:

# Can use either POST or GET (POST recommended). Must pass the parameters "email" and "password".
curl -v -X POST --data "email=admin@dspace.org&password=mypass" https://dspace.myu.edu/rest/login

Example Response:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Set-Cookie: JSESSIONID=6B98CF8648BCE57DCD99689FE77CB1B8; Path=/rest/; Secure; HttpOnly

Example of using JSESSIONID cookie for subsequent (authenticated) requests:

curl -v --cookie "JSESSIONID=6B98CF8648BCE57DCD99689FE77CB1B8" https://dspace.myu.edu/rest/status
# This should return <authenticated>true</authenticated>, and information about the authenticated user session

Invalid email/password combinations will receive an HTTP 401 Unauthorized response.

Please note, special characters need to be HTTP URL encoded.
For example, an email address like dspacedemo+admin@gmail.com (notice the + special character) would need to be encoded as dspacedemo%2Badmin@gmail.com.

GET/shibboleth-login

Login to the REST API using Shibboleth authentication. In order to work, this requires additional Apache configuration. To authenticate, execute the following steps:

1. Call the REST Shibboleth login point with a Cookie jar:

curl -v -L -c cookiejar "https://dspace.myu.edu/rest/shibboleth-login"

2. This should take you again to the IdP login page. You can submit this form using curl using the same cookie jar. However this is IdP dependant so we cannot provide an example here.

3. Once you submit the form using curl, you should be taken back to the /rest/shibboleth-login URL which will return you the JSESSIONID.

4. Using that JSESSIONID, check if you have authenticated successfully:

curl -v "http://localhost:8080/dspace-rest/status" --cookie "JSESSIONID=0633C6379266A283E53F65DF8EF61AB9"
POST/logout

Logout from the REST API, by providing a JSESSIONID cookie. After being posted this cookie will no longer work.

Example Request:

curl -v -X POST --cookie "JSESSIONID=6B98CF8648BCE57DCD99689FE77CB1B8" https://dspace.myu.edu/rest/logout

After posting a logout request, cookie is invalidated and the "/status" path should show you as unauthenticated (even when passing that same cookie). For example:

curl -v --cookie "JSESSIONID=6B98CF8648BCE57DCD99689FE77CB1B8" https://dspace.myu.edu/rest/status
# This should show <authenticated>false</authenticated>

Invalid token will result in HTTP 400 Invalid Request

GET/test

Returns string "REST api is running", for testing that the API is up.

Example Request:

curl https://dspace.myu.edu/rest/test

Example Response:

REST api is running.
GET/status

Receive information about the currently authenticated user token, or the API itself (e.g. version information).

Example Request (XML by default):

curl -v --cookie "JSESSIONID=6B98CF8648BCE57DCD99689FE77CB1B8" https://dspace.myu.edu/rest/status

Example Request (JSON):

curl -v -H "Accept: application/json" --cookie "JSESSIONID=6B98CF8648BCE57DCD99689FE77CB1B8" https://dspace.myu.edu/rest/status

Example JSON Response:

{
  "okay":true,
  "authenticated":true,
  "email":"admin@dspace.org",
  "fullname":"DSpace Administrator",
  "sourceVersion":"6.0",
  "apiVersion":"6"
}

Shibboleth Apache configuration for the REST API

Before Shibboleth authentication for the REST API will work, you need to secure the /rest/shibboleth-login endpoint. Add this configuration section to your Apache HTTPD Shibboleth configuration:

<Location "/rest/shibboleth-login">
         AuthType shibboleth
         ShibRequireSession On
         # Please note that setting ShibUseHeaders to "On" is a potential security risk. 
         # You may wish to set it to "Off". See the mod_shib docs for details about this setting:
         # https://wiki.shibboleth.net/confluence/display/SHIB2/NativeSPApacheConfig#NativeSPApacheConfig-AuthConfigOptions
         # Here's a good guide to configuring Apache + Tomcat when this setting is "Off": 
         # https://www.switch.ch/de/aai/support/serviceproviders/sp-access-rules.html#javaapplications
         ShibUseHeaders On
         require valid-user
</Location>

You can test your configuration in 3 different ways:

  1. Using a web browser:
    1. Go to https://dspace.myu.edu/rest/shibboleth-login, this should redirect you to the login page of your IdP if you don't have a Shibboleth session yet.
    2. Enter your test credentials and this should take you back to the /rest/shibboleth-login URL. You should then see a blank page but in the response headers, the JSESSIONID cookie should be present.
    3. Then go to /rest/status and you should see information on the current authenticated ePerson.
  2. Using curl without a Shibboleth Session
    1. Call the REST Shibboleth login point with a Cookie jar: 
      curl -v -L -c cookiejar "https://dspace.myu.edu/rest/shibboleth-login"


    2. This should take you again to the IdP login page. You can submit this form using curl using the same cookie jar. However this is IdP dependant so I cannot provide an example here.
    3. Once you submit the form using curl, you should be taken back to the /rest/shibboleth-login URL which will return you the JSESSIONID.
    4. Using that JSESSIONID, check if you have authenticated successfully: 

      curl -v "https://dspace.myu.edu/dspace-rest/status" --cookie "JSESSIONID=0633C6379266A283E53F65DF8EF61AB9"
  3. Using curl with a Shibboleth Session (cookie)
    1. When you post the Shibboleth login form, the Shibboleth daemon on the DSpace server also returns you a Shibboleth Cookie. This cookie looks like _shibsession_64656661756c74687... You can also grab this cookie from your browser.
    2. Double check that the cookie you took is valid:

      curl -v 'https://dspace-url/Shibboleth.sso/Session' -H 'Cookie: _shibsession_64656661756c7468747470733a2f2f7265706f7369746f72792e636172646966666d65742e61632e756b2f73686962626f6c657468=_a8d3ad20d8b655250c7357f7ac0e2910;'
    3. This should give you information if the Shibboleth session is valid and on the number of attributes. 
    4. Use this cookie to obtain a Tomcat JSESSIONID:

      curl -v 'https://dspace-url/rest/shibboleth-login' -H 'Cookie: _shibsession_64656661756c7468747470733a2f2f7265706f7369746f72792e636172646966666d65742e61632e756b2f73686962626f6c657468=_a8d3ad20d8b655250c7357f7ac0e2910;'
    5. Use the returned JSESSIONID to check if you have authenticated successfully:

      curl -v "http://dspace-url/rest/status" --cookie "JSESSIONID=0633C6379266A283E53F65DF8EF61AB9"

Communities

Communities in DSpace are used for organization and hierarchy, and are containers that hold sub-Communities and Collections. (ex: Department of Engineering)

  • GET /communities - Returns array of all communities in DSpace.
  • GET /communities/top-communities - Returns array of all top communities in DSpace.
  • GET /communities/{communityId} - Returns community.
  • GET /communities/{communityId}/collections - Returns array of collections of community.
  • GET /communities/{communityId}/communities - Returns array of subcommunities of community.
  • POST /communities - Create new community at top level. You must post community.
  • POST /communities/{communityId}/collections - Create new collections in community. You must post Collection.
  • POST /communities/{communityId}/communities - Create new subcommunity in community. You must post Community.
  • PUT /communities/{communityId} - Update community. You must put Community
  • DELETE /communities/{communityId} - Delete community.
  • DELETE /communities/{communityId}/collections/{collectionId} - Delete collection in community.
  • DELETE /communities/{communityId}/communities/{communityId2} - Delete subcommunity in community.

Collections

Collections in DSpace are containers of Items. (ex: Engineering Faculty Publications)

  • GET /collections - Return all collections of DSpace in array.
  • GET /collections/{collectionId} - Return collection with id.
  • GET /collections/{collectionId}/items - Return all items of collection.
  • POST /collections/{collectionId}/items - Create posted item in collection. You must post an Item
  • POST /collections/find-collection - Find collection by passed name.
  • PUT /collections/{collectionId} - Update collection. You must put Collection.
  • DELETE /collections/{collectionId} - Delete collection from DSpace.
  • DELETE /collections/{collectionId}/items/{itemId} - Delete item in collection.

Items

Items in DSpace represent a "work" and combine metadata and files, known as Bitstreams.

  • GET /items - Return list of items.
  • GET /items/{item id} - Return item.
  • GET /items/{item id}/metadata - Return item metadata.
  • GET /items/{item id}/bitstreams - Return item bitstreams.
  • POST /items/find-by-metadata-field - Find items by metadata entry. You must post a MetadataEntry. 
  • POST /items/{item id}/metadata - Add metadata to item. You must post an array of MetadataEntry.
  • POST /items/{item id}/bitstreams - Add bitstream to item. You must post a Bitstream.
  • PUT /items/{item id}/metadata - Update metadata in item. You must put a MetadataEntry.
  • DELETE /items/{item id} - Delete item.
  • DELETE /items/{item id}/metadata - Clear item metadata.
  • DELETE /items/{item id}/bitstreams/{bitstream id} - Delete item bitstream.

Bitstreams

Bitstreams are files. They have a filename, size (in bytes), and a file format. Typically in DSpace, the Bitstream will the "full text" article, or some other media. Some files are the actual file that was uploaded (tagged with bundleName:ORIGINAL), others are DSpace-generated files that are derivatives or renditions, such as text-extraction, or thumbnails. You can download files/bitstreams. DSpace doesn't really limit the type of files that it takes in, so this could be PDF, JPG, audio, video, zip, or other. Also, the logo for a Collection or a Community, is also a Bitstream.

  • GET /bitstreams - Return all bitstreams in DSpace.
  • GET /bitstreams/{bitstream id} - Return bitstream.
  • GET /bitstreams/{bitstream id}/policy - Return bitstream policies.
  • GET /bitstreams/{bitstream id}/retrieve - Return data of bitstream.
  • POST /bitstreams/{bitstream id}/policy - Add policy to item. You must post a ResourcePolicy
  • PUT /bitstreams/{bitstream id}/data - Update data/file of bitstream. You must put the data
  • PUT /bitstreams/{bitstream id} - Update metadata of bitstream. You must put a Bitstream, does not alter the file/data
  • DELETE /bitstreams/{bitstream id} - Delete bitstream from DSpace.
  • DELETE /bitstreams/{bitstream id}/policy/{policy_id} - Delete bitstream policy.

You can access the parent object of a Bitstream (normally an Item, but possibly a Collection or Community when it is its logo) through: /bitstreams/:bitstreamID?expand=parent

As the documentation may state "You must post a ResourcePolicy" or some other object type, this means that there is a structure of data types, that your XML or JSON must be of type, when it is posted in the body.

Handle

In DSpace, Communities, Collections, and Items typically get minted a Handle Identifier. You can reference these objects in the REST API by their handle, as opposed to having to use the internal item-ID.

  • GET /handle/{handle-prefix}/{handle-suffix} - Returns a Community, Collection, or Item object that matches that handle.

Hierarchy

Assembling a full representation of the community and collection hierarchy using the communities and collections endpoints can be inefficient. Retrieve a lightweight representation of the nested community and collection hierarchy.  Each node of the hierarchy contains minimal information (id, handle, name).

  • GET /hierarchy - Retrieve a lightweight representation of the nested community and collection hierarchy.

Schema and Metadata Field Registry

  • GET /registries/schema - Return the list of schemas in the registry
  • GET /registries/schema/{schema_prefix} - Returns the specified schema
  • GET /registries/schema/{schema_prefix}/metadata-fields/{element} - Returns the metadata field within a schema with an unqualified element name
  • GET /registries/schema/{schema_prefix}/metadata-fields/{element}/{qualifier} - Returns the metadata field within a schema with a qualified element name
  • POST /registries/schema/ - Add a schema to the schema registry
  • POST /registries/schema/{schema_prefix}/metadata-fields - Add a metadata field to the specified schema
  • GET /registries/metadata-fields/{field_id} - Return the specified metadata field
  • PUT /registries/metadata-fields/{field_id} - Update the specified metadata field
  • DELETE /registries/metadata-fields/{field_id} - Delete the specified metadata field from the metadata field registry
  • DELETE /registries/schema/{schema_id} - Delete the specified schema from the schema registry

Note: since the schema object contains no data fields, the following method has not been implemented: PUT /registries/schema/{schema_id}

Report Tools

Reporting Tools that allow a repository manager to audit a collection for metadata consistency and bitstream consistency.  See REST Based Quality Control Reports for more information.

Collection Report Tool on demo.dspace.org

Metadata Query Tool on demo.dspace.org

  • GET /reports - Return a list of report tools built on the rest api
  • GET /reports/{nickname} - Return a redirect to a specific report
  • GET /filters - Return a list of use case filters available for quality control reporting
  • GET /filtered-collections - Return collections and item counts based on pre-defined filters
  • GET /filtered-collections/{collection_id} - Return items and item counts for a collection based on pre-defined filters
  • GET /filtered-items - Retrieve a set of items based on a metadata query and a set of filters


Model - Object data types

Here are all of the data types, not all fields are necessary or supported when posting/putting content, but the output contains this information:

Community Object

{"id":456,"name":"Reports Community","handle":"10766/10213","type":"community","link":"/rest/communities/456","expand":["parentCommunity","collections","subCommunities","logo","all"],"logo":null,"parentCommunity":null,"copyrightText":"","introductoryText":"","shortDescription":"Collection contains materials pertaining to the Able Family","sidebarText":"","countItems":3,"subcommunities":[],"collections":[]}

Collection Object

{"id":730,"name":"Annual Reports Collection","handle":"10766/10214","type":"collection","link":"/rest/collections/730","expand":["parentCommunityList","parentCommunity","items","license","logo","all"],"logo":null,"parentCommunity":null,"parentCommunityList":[],"items":[],"license":null,"copyrightText":"","introductoryText":"","shortDescription":"","sidebarText":"","numberItems":3}

Item Object

{"id":14301,"name":"2015 Annual Report","handle":"123456789/13470","type":"item","link":"/rest/items/14301","expand":["metadata","parentCollection","parentCollectionList","parentCommunityList","bitstreams","all"],"lastModified":"2015-01-12 15:44:12.978","parentCollection":null,"parentCollectionList":null,"parentCommunityList":null,"bitstreams":null,"archived":"true","withdrawn":"false"}

Bitstream Object

{"id":47166,"name":"appearance and physiology 100 percent copied from wikipedia.pdf","handle":null,"type":"bitstream","link":"/rest/bitstreams/47166","expand":["parent","policies","all"],"bundleName":"ORIGINAL","description":"","format":"Adobe PDF","mimeType":"application/pdf","sizeBytes":129112,"parentObject":null,"retrieveLink":"/bitstreams/47166/retrieve","checkSum":{"value":"62778292a3a6dccbe2662a2bfca3b86e","checkSumAlgorithm":"MD5"},"sequenceId":1,"policies":null}

ResourcePolicy Object

[{"id":317127,"action":"READ","epersonId":-1,"groupId":0,"resourceId":47166,"resourceType":"bitstream","rpDescription":null,"rpName":null,"rpType":"TYPE_INHERITED","startDate":null,"endDate":null}]

MetadataEntry Object

{"key":"dc.description.abstract", "value":"This is the description abstract", "language": null}

User Object

{"email":"test@dspace.org","password":"pass"}

Status Object

{"okay":true,"authenticated":true,"email":"test@dspace.org","fullname":"DSpace Test User","token":"6d45daaa-7b02-4ae7-86de-a960838fae5c"}

 

Introduction to Jersey for developers

The REST API for DSpace is implemented using Jersey, the reference implementation of the Java standard for building RESTful Web Services (JAX-RS 1). That means this API should be easier to expand and maintain than other API approaches, as this approach has been widely adopted in the industry. If this client documentation does not fully answer about how an endpoint works, it is helpful to look directly at the Java REST API code, to see how it is implemented. The code typically has required parameters, optional parameters, and indicates the type of data that will be responded.

There was no central ProviderRegistry that you have to declare your path. Instead, the code is driven by annotations, here is a list of annotations used in the code for CommunitiesResource.java:

  • @Path("/communities"), which then allows it to be routed to http://localhost:8080/communities, this is then the base path for all the requests within this class.
  • @GET, which indicates that this method responds to GET http requests

  • @POST, which indicates that this method responds to POST http requests
  • @PUT, which indicates that this method responds to PUT http requests
  • @DELETE, which indicates that this method responds to DELETE http requests
  • @Path("/{community_id}"), the path is appended to the class level @Path above, this one uses a variable {community_id}. The total endpoint would be http://localhost:8080/rest/communities/123, where 123 is the ID.
  • @Consumes({ MediaType.APPLICATION_JSON, MediaType.APPLICATION_XML }), this indicates that this request expects input of either JSON or XML. Another endpoint accepts HTML input.

  • @PathParam("community_id") Integer communityId, this maps the path placeholder variable {community_id} to Java int communityID
  • @QueryParam("userIP") String user_ip, this maps a query param like ?userIP=8.8.4.4 to Java String user_id variable, and user_id == "8.8.4.4"


Configuration for DSpace REST

Propertyrest.stats
Example Valuetrue
Informational NoteBoolean value indicates whether statistics should be recorded for access via the REST API; Defaults to 'false'.

Recording Proxy Access by Tools

For the purpose of more accurate statistics, a web-based tool may specify who is using it, by adding parameters to the request:

http://localhost:8080/rest/items/:ID?userIP=ip&userAgent=userAgent&xforwardedfor=xforwardedfor

If no parameters are given, the details of the HTTP request's sender are used in statistics. This enables tools to record the details of their user rather than themselves.

Additional Information

Additional information can be found in the README for dspace-rest, and in the GitHub Pull Request for DSpace REST (Jersey).

Usage examples can be found at: https://github.com/BrunoNZ/dspace-rest-requests

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