Skip to content
Repository to discuss the new REST API contract for DSpace 7
Branch: master
Clone or download
tdonohue Merge pull request #73 from atmire/authority-control
Authority control Rest contract
Latest commit 13d1a19 Sep 6, 2019
Type Name Latest commit message Commit time
Failed to load latest commit information.
.gitignore Support for bad request as suggested by Paulo and Andrea May 30, 2019 Merge remote-tracking branch 'community/master' into bundles Aug 29, 2019 add error codes and support for jump to Apr 23, 2018 Sync contract with DS-3851 DS-4166 Mar 7, 2019 mapped collections Aug 5, 2019 Merge pull request #53 from atmire/DS-4107_Metadata_as_map_cleanup Mar 1, 2019 feedback on PR Jul 29, 2019 [DS-3952] Rename item copy request endpoint from 'copyrequests' to 'i… Nov 15, 2018 bundle related changes for Aug 22, 2019 Renaming entitytypes to itemtypes Jan 29, 2019 DS-3908 Document use of add for replacing values Feb 28, 2019 Updating metadata schema/field rest contracts to include creating, up… Dec 12, 2018 Updating metadata schema/field rest contracts to include creating, up… Dec 12, 2018 typo fix Feb 22, 2019 Sync contract with DS-3851 DS-4166 Mar 7, 2019 Add links back to main README Mar 24, 2017 Update PR feedback. Rename fields Aug 12, 2019 renamed resourceType in policyType to avoid misundersting Dec 7, 2017 DS-4191 make explicit the need to escape special chars Apr 25, 2019 Enhance description. Link in examples. Feb 1, 2019 renamed views/searches to viewevents/searchevents Aug 14, 2019 DS-3699 renamed endpoints and attributes to be uniform with existent … Oct 24, 2017 Fix indentation (#2) Aug 5, 2019 fix md syntax Dec 15, 2017 DS-3759 add link to the sectionType doc Nov 21, 2017 specify the meaning of the null accessConditionOptions Dec 7, 2017 Fix category of the worklowitems endpoint Jun 9, 2018 improve the way to accept / reject the license Dec 13, 2017 DS-3908 Use consistent wording re:add and cross-link with workspaceit… Feb 28, 2019 documentation about the upload sectionType Nov 21, 2017


Repository to discuss the new REST API contract for DSpace 7. The code to implement this contract is being developed on the DSpace master branch

⚠️ As the DSpace 7 REST API is under active development, this REST Contract is expected to change rapidly. REST Contract contributors will be rapidly adding ideas (via Pull Requests) to this repository in order to enable the detailed discussions necessary to finalize the REST Contract. Once the REST Contract stabilizes, we will remove this warning and more actively publicize it.

If you would like to get involved in our DSpace 7 development effort, we welcome new contributors.

Community resources

Detailed Documentation pages

Use of the HTTP Verbs and HTTP Response CODE

Please note that within this section, all terms used are meant to reference RESTful terminology and/or terminology borrowed from Spring Data REST.

  • resource - anything that can be identified via a URI. It's a representation of an underlying object. e.g. /items/123-456-789 is a resource that represents a single DSpace Item object. For additional examples see
  • object - we use this term to mean the actual object behind the resource. In other words, a resource is a JSON representation of some object (often a DSpaceObject) stored in the database. This is also sometimes called an "entity" in REST terminology.
  • collection - a group of resources e.g. /items is a collection of all DSpace Item resources. This is also sometimes called a "collection resource" (e.g. in Spring Data REST)
    • Be aware that the term "collection" in this document has nothing to do with a DSpace Collection object. In REST terminology, a "collection" endpoint is simply an endpoint that returns multiple resources (objects), often in a paginated list.
    • NOTE: Spring Data REST likes to use the phrase "item resources" for individual resources within a "collection resource". We've simplified this terminology and just call them "resources" and "collections", respectively.
  • association - a link or relationship between two resources. This is also sometimes called an "association resource" (e.g. in Spring Data REST).

On collection of resources endpoints

This type of endpoint interacts with a group (or collection) of resources (objects). For example: /api/core/items references all Items in the system.

  • POST: Creates a new resource (object) and adds it to the group. Any required data (i.e. attributes) for the new object must be included in the request body. An empty request body is not allowed, unless you are creating an empty object with no attributes.

    • Related or additional information (such as required associations to other objects) may be passed as querystring parameters in the request, if it is required to create the object.
      # For example, creating a Collection *requires* linking it to a parent Community
      # In this scenario, we must have a querystring param to specify the parent Community UUID
      curl -i -X POST "http://localhost:8080/rest/api/core/collections?parent=<:communityUUID>" 
          -H "Content-Type:application/json" 
          -d "[{ ... attributes of new Collection ... }]"
  • GET: Returns the first page of the resources in the group (or collection). See Pagination section.

On single resource endpoints

This type of endpoint interacts with a single, existing resource (object). For example: /api/core/items/<:uuid> references a single Item resource.

  • GET: Returns a single resource.

  • HEAD: Returns whether the target resource is available.

  • PUT: Replaces the state of the target resource with the supplied request body. This updates the object (via full replacement). The updated information must be included in the request body. An empty request body is not allowed, unless you are updating the object to be an empty object (with no attributes). Querystring parameters are not allowed, as PUT requests should always be performed on an existing object.

  • PATCH Similar to PUT but partially updating the resources state. We adhere to the JSON Patch specification RFC6902. See General rules for the Patch operation and Modifying metadata via Patch for more details.

  • DELETE: Deletes the target resource (object).

On sub-path of a single resource endpoint (associations)

This type of endpoint interacts with (one or more) resources that are associated with a single resource. For that reason, it is sometimes called an "association" endpoint. For example: /api/core/items/<:uuid>/mappedCollections references all Collections that are mapped to a single Item resource.

  • GET: Returns the state of the association (for the current resource)

  • PUT: Binds (or links) the resource(s) pointed to by the given URI(s) to the current resource. This replaces any existing links with the URIs passed in the request. Resource URIs to link must be sent in the body of the request using Content-Type:text/uri-list. See example from Spring Data REST Relationships. Return 400 Bad Request if multiple URIs were given for a *-to-one-association

    # Example curl command to replace Item-to-Collection mappings with the two listed
    # Notice the two Collection URIs are separated by a newline (\n)
    curl -i -X PUT "http://localhost:8080/rest/api/core/items/<:uuid>/mappedCollections" 
         -H "Content-Type:text/uri-list" 
         -d "http://localhost:8080/rest/api/core/collections/1c11f3f1-ba1f-4f36-908a-3f1ea9a557eb \n http://localhost:8080/rest/api/core/collections/5ad50035-ca22-4a4d-84ca-d5132f34f588"
  • POST: Only supported for collection associations (i.e. associations allowing for multiple resources). Adds/Links a new resource (via its URI) to the association. Resource URIs to link must sent in the body of the request using Content-Type:text/uri-list. See example from Spring Data REST Relationships

    # Example curl command to add a *new* Collection mapping for an Item
    curl -i -X POST "http://localhost:8080/rest/api/core/items/<:uuid>/mappedCollections" 
         -H "Content-Type:text/uri-list" 
         -d "http://localhost:8080/rest/api/core/collections/5ad50035-ca22-4a4d-84ca-d5132f34f588"
  • DELETE: Unbinds (unlinks) the association. Return 405 Method Not Allowed if the association is required (and cannot be removed). DELETE requests should not contain a request body as some clients do not support sending a DELETE request with a body. Therefore, if an individual association needs to be removed, the DELETE request should reference that individual association in the URI of the request. For example:

    # Example curl command to delete a *single* Collection mapping for an Item
    curl -i -X DELETE "http://localhost:8080/rest/api/core/items/<:uuid>/mappedCollections/<:collection_uuid>"
    # Example curl command to delete *ALL* Collection mappings for an item (unsupported at this time)
    curl -i -X DELETE "http://localhost:8080/rest/api/core/items/<:uuid>/mappedCollections

Error codes

400 Bad Request - if multiple URIs were given for a to-one-association

401 Unauthorized (Unauthenticated) - if the request requires a logged-in user

403 Forbidden - if the requester doesn't have enough privilege to execute the request

404 Not Found - if the requested entity or collection doesn't exist

405 Method Not Allowed - if the methods is not implemented or a DELETE method is called on a non-optional association

422 Unprocessable Entity - if the request is well-formed, but is invalid based on the given data. For example, if you attempt to create a resource under a non-existent parent resource, or attempt to update a read-only (non-editable) field.


Each endpoints that expose a collection of resources, including sub-paths for embedded or linked collections (aka list of items of a collection, etc.), MUST implement the pagination with the following common behavior

Request parameters

  • page: 0 based integer value that specify the requested page in the result set [default 0]. Negative values must be rejected with a 400 Error code.
  • size: the dimension of the result set window to show. It must be a positive value. Negative or zero values must be rejected with a 400 Error code. The default value as well as maximum values are configurable by the system administrator. Different Maximum values apply for anonymous users, logged-in users and administrators. Size over the maximum value are automatically reset to the maximum allowed value, no error is thrown.
  • sort: the criteria to use. Ordering is specified appending a comma and the keyword asc or desc to the criteria name (i.e. title,asc). Unknown sort criteria and/or ordering keyword produce an error response with Http Code 400


The HAL document always includes a page object with the following attributes

  • size: the dimension of the result set window returned (can be different than the requested value due to imposed limit, see the request parameters section)

  • totalElements: the total size of the result set

  • totalPages: the number of available page of result using the current window size

  • number: the index (0-based) of the returned page An example

    "page": { "size": 5, "totalElements": 14, "totalPages": 3, "number": 0 }

and, when applicable, the following links

  • self: a parameterized link to the requested collection page
  • next: the link to the next page of resources in the collection, if any, keeping the same option for size and sorting
  • previous: the link to the previous page of resources in the collection, if any, keeping the same option for size and sorting
  • first: the link to the first page of resources in the collection, keeping the same option for size and sorting
  • last: the link to the last page of resources in the collection, keeping the same option for size and sorting

An example

"_links": {
	"first": {
  	"href": "http://localhost:8080/dspace-spring-rest/api/core/bitstreams?page=0&size=5"
	"self": {
  	"href": "http://localhost:8080/dspace-spring-rest/api/core/bitstreams"
	"next": {
  	"href": "http://localhost:8080/dspace-spring-rest/api/core/bitstreams?page=1&size=5"
	"last": {
      "href": "http://localhost:8080/dspace-spring-rest/api/core/bitstreams?page=2&size=5"

Out of bound pages

In the case that the request parameters lead to a page outside the result set an empty page should be returned with the links needed to go to the first and last page of the result set if the results set is not empty and the total number of resources in the collection

Error Code

400 Bad Request. If an unknown sort criteria is requested or a not valid ordering keyword is specified

Design Principles

In the creation of the REST API, we've tried to follow a few specific design principles listed below

On the Naming of Endpoints

Names should be descriptive but reasonably short. Use nouns instead of verbs. Form compounds by concatenating words, all lower case, without punctuation. For example: metadatafields, not metadata-fields or MetadataFields.


The REST API supports the HATEOAS paradigm and adopt the HAL format to express links and embedded resources. Links are always expected to be absolute to make easier the implementation of "follow link" methods on the REST client side.

Because the API responds using the HAL Format, we distribute it with an embedded HAL Browser provided by Spring.


The REST API is considered stateless, meaning the client is responsible for keeping state information and sending it to the server when it is needed. Because the server stores no state (or session) information internally, it will return a "token" (which contains any state information) to the client. The client must then return that token in each subsequent request, if the client wants that state information preserved.

JSON Web Tokens

JSON Web Tokens (JWT) are used to store state (and authentication) information between requests. This is the format of token the REST API returns to the client. The client should return the JWT to the server in subsequent requests.

ALPS - Application Level Profile Semantics

While not yet implemented, we expect future support for the ALPS metadata (, so a profile link MUST exist from the root of API. A profile link as defined in RFC 6906, is a place to include application level details. See the ALPS draft spec (

Spring Technology alignment

While it's an implementation detail, the new REST API uses many Spring REST (Java) libraries, including:

  • Spring Boot - Provides base Spring webapp functionality
  • Spring MVC - Provides Spring web framework
  • Spring REST - Provides base REST tools/libraries for building REST APIs on Spring MVC
  • Spring HATEOAS - Provides tools to create REST APIs following HATEOAS principles, and returning HAL Format responses.
  • Spring Data REST (alignment) - We do NOT directly use Spring Data REST at this time (because of incompatibilities with our data layer). However, we have chosen to align our implementation with Spring Data REST where possible.
  • Spring Data REST Hal Browser - Provides the out-of-the-box HAL Browser you see when accessing our REST API
  • Spring REST Docs - Provides tools to help document REST APIs in Spring MVC

Each of these libraries were chosen based on design principles above, and based on the fact that much of our underlying Java APIs use or align with Spring technologies.

ETags & conditional headers

The ETag header ( provides a way to tag resources. This can prevent clients from overriding each other while also making it possible to reduce unnecessary calls. It is expected that all the returned document have an ETag

The ETag value can be used with in GET request with the If-None-Match conditional header. If the header MATCHES the ETag, the API will conclude nothing has changed, and instead of sending a copy of the resource, an HTTP 304 Not Modified status code is returned.

The ETag value can be also used with DELETE, POST, PUT and PATCH with the If-Match conditional header to avoid to perform action on changed resources (concurrency issues, optimistic lock approach).

Finally, when possible the If-Modified-Since header in GET request should be respected. If the resource has been not modified since the value of the Header the API should return an HTTP 304 Not Modified status code. Resources that support the If-Modified-Since header MUST return the Last-Modified Header in the GET response, such header MUST BE NOT returned by resources not able to manage the If-Modified-Since header.


At the root of the api a HAL document MUST list all the primary endpoints allowing full discovery of the current version of the API.

Documentation of the defined endpoints

API Versioning

... here we will describe our strategy to provide access overtime to a specific version of the REST API...

Deprecated endpoints & methods

... how we want to let know the client about deprecated endpoints & methods?

Experimentals endpoints & methods

... do we want/need to introduce endpoints keeping the right to change behavior and other aspects without face with the self-imposed guarantee about backward compatibilty and versioning?

You can’t perform that action at this time.