The primary function of DSpace is to capture and describe digital content; allow digital content to be distributed through the web; and to preserve digital content over the long term. It has been created more as a content warehouse than a content management framework, concentrating on storing different digital content formats and retrieving them by search, rather than managing the creation and evolution of content.
It is aimed at libraries as a digital archive and fits this use best.
The main licence for DSpace is the BSD, but defers details to licences of subcomponents. Unfortunately, one of the key components is a handle manager that is limited to non-commercial use only - which means DSpace can only be used in those circumstances.
There is a minimal user interface that provides search access to a repository.
Content can be organised into 'Communities', each with a minimally configurable home page, and each community having a set of 'collections' and administrative users. A 'collection' can also have its own homepage and sub-communities.
Workflow and Life-Cycle
DSPace does have workflow to provide flexible approval processes, but it is focused only on approval to the archive, not wider workflows, and is limited to 3 roles: reviewers; approvers; and metadata editors. The life-cycle of an archive item is also fixed at 3 states: still being assembled for submittal (files being uploaded); submitted and pending approval; and archived.
Search and Navigation
Content can be searched using attribute and full-text search with the usual behaviours, such as stop words, stemming and bounded by community or collection. There are no summarization features or attribute near-match searches. Content can also be found by navigating down through communities and collections.
Content Model and Services
Content is versioned but the history is read-only - it is not possible to 'rollback' to a previous version. Items cab be associated together if they are the same 'content' but different formats, but there does not appear to be any way of defining other associations, such as translations, abridged versions or derived works.
There are no facilities for providing feedback or discussion, and the home page configuration does not provide enough flexibility to present access to material in more accessible or attractive ways - search or navigate communities only.