Ravings of a medical informatician..

Not that you care about anything he might talk about

GSoC Mentor Summit

So, this post is *long* overdue. In early October, four of the OpenMRS team had the opportunity to join 113 other open source projects on Google’s Mountain View Campus for the third annual Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit. This was an awesome opportunity to co-mingle with other open source projects, learn a ton about continued community development techniques, and spread the good OpenMRS love to those in the larger F/OSS community. Here we are basking in the coolness of the Googleplex:

Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit

(Above: Justin, me, Burke, and Darius looking forward to the after party after a long day)

What did we take away from the day?

  • For many different reasons, other open source projects would like to work with us. Whether it’s demonstrating the utility of their work, finding value in some of the work that we’ve done, or just being good world citizens… they’ve either expressed interest or have actually already gotten down to work with us. You’ll see more of this in the months to come
  • We’re not doing so bad in community development. There’s a general trend of “I wish we could make better documentation” or, “I wish we had better unit testing practices” among the legions of other projects. Talking to others allowed us though to continue prioritizing where we need to be focused:
    1. Adopt unit testing cultures ASAP
    2. Lower barriers to entry around good OpenMRS programming practices
    3. Continue to be leary of recreating what’s already released out into the wild and proactively seek partnerships at every opportunity with other F/OSS projects
  • We need to think hard about creating a non-profit organization to support OpenMRS’ growth. The continued, loud advice is to do this, and do it quickly.
  • Poolside pizza, lots of bottles of alcohol, and open source geeks together make for one interesting party.. 😉

Even though this marked the end of our first Summer of Code with Google, it’s easy to avoid sadness knowing that from this came so many learnings, good experiences, and future leads for our work that have helped to transform the project in some important ways. We also will soon be announcing our “Southern Summer of Code” project, sponsored by the IDRC, so stay tuned!

November 20, 2007 Posted by | Google, open source, OpenMRS, Partners-in-Health | 2 Comments

Meeting of the minds in Boston last week…

Last week, the folks from Partners-in-Health hosted the Indianapolis OpenMRS contingent (Burke, Ben, Brian, and me) and representatives from Careware, the WHO, and CDC for some strategic planning on developing country health information technology. It was a good visit for a number of reasons. Some highlights:

  • My personal highlight was Justin Miranda’s demonstration of the OpenMRS reporting framework. Given that reporting tools were my top OpenMRS priority for 2007, it was great indeed to see a true pathway towards this. It was also fantastic to see Justin hitting his stride with this work, knowing how much time and thought he’s put into it. I suspect that this will enjoy a formal unveiling some time in the next month.
  • It appears that OpenMRS synchronization has come a very long way since we’ve last talked with the Boston crew. There are five developers putting real cycles into the code development (including Christian, Darius, Julie, Maros, and Anders, our summer student), and with a few exceptions, their straw man holds up well as a good first pass. They are targetting an October release.
  • We had another opportunity to meet a Google Summer of Code intern: Matt Harrison. He’s making good progress on OpenOffice integration. I anticipate working hard over these next few weeks to open doors for him as I reach out to the OpenOffice community in a more deliberate way. It was exciting to see someone so invested in his project, and I got some helpful feedback about his experience this summer over beers downtown. I’m hoping he’ll find time to continue being part of our community…
  • Always good to catch up with Jeff from the Careware group. His group continues to pound out new features, and I appreciate his attitude in working with a group like OpenMRS.
  • I had the chance to show off progress on OpenMRS MD (minimum dataset), the prepackaged implementation of OpenMRS around the WHO HIV care guidelines and forms. Hunger for this product from the funders perspective is more palpable than anything else on the radar at this point, and so it must be important to the ecology out in the field these days. I continue to have questions of how a software like this will be supported over the long run. Of course, the OpenMRS community can certainly sustain some technical support, but given that we’re reaching out to a more naive audience, it will be interesting to see if WHO/CDC takes more of an active leadership role with it. Here’s my slide show on the topic.
  • I also got to talk about my current pet project, the OpenMRS Concept Cooperative. Surprised to see how folks are beginning to arrive at some of the same conclusions Burke and I have re: issues when dealing with clinical vocabulary management. Even more excited to get that first version out the door. Here’s my slide show on OCC.
  • Had great meals while we were there, especially the seafood we had on Thursday night, and the great get together we had the night before the meeting with the PIH team.

Despite all of this, it was in fact my first travel away from my son since he’s been born, which was harder than expected. Hopefully it’ll get easier over time, especially as we prepare to head to Eldoret, Kenya in September (gulp!)

August 20, 2007 Posted by | Informatics, OpenMRS, openoffice, Partners-in-Health, Will | Leave a comment