SWORD was originally a Jisc-funded initiative to define and develop a standard mechanism for depositing into repositories and other systems. Why was it created? because there was no standard way of doing this. A standard deposit interface to repositories allows more services to be built which can offer functionality such as deposit from multiple locations, e.g. disparate repositories, desktop drag’n’drop tools or from within standard office applications. SWORD can also facilitate deposit to multiple repositories, increasingly important for depositors who wish to deposit to funder, institutional or subject repositories. Other possibilities include migration of content between repositories, transfer to preservation services and many more.

The first major version of SWORD built upon the Resouce creation aspects of AtomPub to enable fire-and-forget package deposit onto a server.

This approach, where the depositor has no further interaction with the server is of significant value in certain use cases, but there are others where this is insufficient. Consider, for example, that the depositor wishes to construct a digital artefact file-by-file over a period of time before deciding that it is time to archive it. In these cases, a higher level of interactivity between the participating systems is required, and this is the role that SWORD 2.0 was subsequently developed to fulfil.

As the use cases for SWORD have developed further, it became clear that the increasing size of files repositories were being asked to deal with was an issue. As a result of this, and the fact that the technological approach for SWORD 2.0 was starting to show its age, a new version, SWORD 3.0, has been developed. This is a radical departure from SWORD 2.0, eliminating ties with AtomPub, and moving to a much stricter REST+JSON approach, utilising JSON-LD for alignment with Linked Data. Its key differences to SWORD 2.0 from a functional perspective are:

  • Support for By-Reference file deposit
  • Support for Segmented file deposit
  • More advanced native packaging and metadata formats

Historical Reading

If you are interested in some of the earliest work on the SWORD protocol, you can find some documents below/