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Create a Resource Node


This tutorial will walk you through adding a piece of digital content (an image and some metadata) into an Islandora repository, creating an Islandora Resource Node. At the end, you will have metadata in a Drupal node, a file stored in Fedora, and derivatives automatically created.

Video version available

The material in this tutorial is presented in our video, Adding Content.


For this tutorial you will need an instance of Islandora Starter Site. You can also use the online sandbox or one of the sandbox VMs.

Online Sandbox

login credentials for online sandbox

Step 1: Create an Islandora Node

To add content to Islandora, start by creating a node. When logged in to Drupal as an administrator, navigate with the top menu bar to Manage >> Content >> Add content or click on Add content under the Tools menu.

Click on Add Content

Next, select a content type that is configured with Islandora behaviours. In the Islandora Starter Site, there is an Islandora content type. It is called Repository Item.

Click on Repository Item

You are presented with a form showing a large number of metadata fields. Fill out the ones that are applicable to you.

Keep it simple

For this tutorial, do not attempt to fill out any fields with an autocomplete symbol - a small circle at the right-hand-side of the text box. Avoid autocomplete fields

Near the bottom of the form, the System section contains mandatory fields that configure Islandora behaviours. Select Image from the Model drop box. This will enable image display behaviours, and cause image derivatives to be generated once we upload a file.

Under system select appropriate model, or format

Then, click Save. You have now created a node, and since it is of an Islandora content type, we call it a "resource node."

New node created

The new node page displays, with the title, any metadata that we entered, and a Fedora URI which indicates that metadata about this new node has been synced into Fedora. Congratulations, you have created a resource node!

Step 2: Upload an Original File

Node page showing Media tab

Alas, your node has no files. To upload a file, click on the node's Media tab.

Click on Add Media

Concept: Media tab

The "Media" tab shows Media that we say "belong to" or are "media of" that node. The idea of media "belonging to" nodes, and the "Media" tab, are part of Islandora but not part of standard Drupal.

The Media tab shows nothing listed, because this node has no files. So click on Add Media. You will be taken to a list of media types to choose from.

Click on image option

We want to add a jpg image, so click on Image. You are now presented with a form to create a media.

Images vs TIFFs

Drupal considers any type of image that can be viewed natively in the browser as an Image. For other image types that require special viewers, such as TIFFs, you would have to choose File. Learn more about Media in Islandora.

Fill out the media form

This form contains fields for metadata about the file, including "technical metadata". There are three required parts of the form:

  1. Name, which identifies this media.
  2. Image, the file to upload.
  3. Media Use, describing what this file is in the context of its resource node. To trigger derivative generation, select the checkbox for Original File.

With the mandatory fields filled out (do not edit the "Media of" field), click Save, and a new Media will be created attached to your resource node. You will land on the administrator's list of Media (i.e. all media on your site, not just those attached to the resource node), and the new media object you created is at the top of the list.

Media list

Select the Media you just created, and you will see a page containing that Media's information and a rendering of the image that you uploaded.

Scroll down to see metadata below the uploaded image. The MIME type, File size, Width, and Height were automatically populated when the file was uploaded. The value under Media of is a link back to the resource node.

Media page showing metadata

Step 3: Verify derivatives were created

Now return to the node you created, and you will see the image along with its (minimal) descriptive metadata. The image you are viewing is not the one you uploaded, but a lower-resolution service file that was created and stored in the Drupal public filesystem.

The file is now loaded, return to the main site to view

If you open the node's Media tab, you should see new Media have been added - these are derivatives have been created automatically, including a service file, a thumbnail, and a FITS technical metadata file.

Derivatives were created and are listed under the Media tab.

You now have an Islandora resource node, which is a special case of a Drupal node, and it has Media attached to it including an Original File, Thumbnail, Service File, and FITS Technical Metadata file.

Learn More

  • Drupal documentation on Nodes
  • Drupal documentation on Media.

Last update: November 1, 2023