Earlier this year OpenMRS
participated in Google Summer of Code
, a worldwide program organized by Google’s Open Source Programs Office to expose university students to the world of free and open source software, and encourage those students to become long-term contributors to projects that interest them. OpenMRS is a web-based medical record system originally designed for use in the developing world, and is now used on every continent on the globe. OpenMRS is used in all kinds of health care environments, from research laboratories to hospitals to small clinics in remote villages, and even via mobile devices that collect data door-to-door.
OpenMRS has been participating in Google Summer of Code every year since 2007, and our 5th year was arguably our most successful yet. This year, 15 motivated students successfully completed projects to focus or extend the OpenMRS health care IT platform in ways that will have significant impact for our global community of users. Throughout the summer our students became full contributors in good standing in the OpenMRS community. They presented their projects’ work in progress to other developers and users and often contributed their code to our software releases to support health care professionals saving lives around the world. Unlike many other summer internships that students may have during the summer, our students were responsible for planning and delivery of “real-life projects” that came from needs and requests from people installing and using OpenMRS.
Some projects were dedicated to improving the core OpenMRS platform, and some built add-on modules to support specific types of clinical activities. There were projects focused on making the installation of OpenMRS easier, and others focused on helping improve collaboration for our volunteer community. And if the presentations our students made this semester were any indication, all of the projects were exciting ways to write code and save lives. There’s not space here to describe each project in detail, but we encourage you to check out our students and their projects on the OpenMRS Wiki and learn more about them:
- Balachandiran Ajanthan created an add-on module to deploy reusable “SMART” health care apps inside OpenMRS.
- Christopher Zakian reimagined a “universal” search within OpenMRS that allows users to search for any system data from anywhere within the system
- Gaurav Paliwal created an add-on module to allow OpenMRS users to provide application feedback to their system administrators and the larger open source community.
- Gauthami Pingili improved both the UI of the OpenMRS Patient Matching module and improved its accuracy of finding duplicate patients.
- Goutham Vasireddi helped make it faster and easier for developers to write add-on modules for OpenMRS by creating a “wizard” for Maven.
- Jelena Skorucak reworked the attributes a person has within OpenMRS, giving clinics the flexibility to record more information about the persons.
- João Portela made significant improvements to our HTML Form Entry editor, allowing non-programmers to create more detailed, useful data collection forms for health care.
- Piotr Bryk enhanced our Metadata Sharing module to make it easier to manage the export and import of OpenMRS system configurations.
- Rahul Akula’s work helped make it possible for OpenMRS to interoperate with external laboratory information systems.
- Sai Manohar Nethi worked to create a framework for a comprehensive Human Resource add-on module for OpenMRS, allowing the system to help manage clinic personnel.
- Sreya Janaswamy created a way for OpenMRS users to translate phrases used by the application into other languages, inside the application itself.
- Sriskandarajah Suhothayan created a way for the OpenMRS Notifiable Condition Detector module to watch for certain large-scale patterns and send notifications to clinicians via SMS or e-mail.
- Suranga Kasthurirathne created a new way for OpenMRS to store clinical observations that reference other people or locations.
- Taras Chorny built a system to allow OpenMRS to be installed and upgraded using a variety of languages.
- Victor Chircu built an “Atlas” add-on module that allows OpenMRS users to opt-in to report their location, type of clinic, and number of patients on a shared map to represent the active OpenMRS community.
Since we started participating in Google Summer of Code, we’re very proud that so many of our students have stayed active in the OpenMRS community and continued to contribute their talents after the program ended. In fact, three of our students have gone on to become full-time OpenMRS developers paid by various organizations involved in our community.
We continue to be more and more impressed with the students who are interested in our work, and are proud to welcome them into the OpenMRS family! In fact, this year, 2011 Google Summer of Code
student Suranga Kasthurirathne was able to join us in October for our annual OpenMRS implementers meeting in Kigali, Rwanda. Suranga provided some excellent feedback about his involvement in Google Summer of Code
this year, and about his experience meeting the OpenMRS community face to face. Read his blog post
for more of his thoughts.
Once again, this year we were blown away by our amazing students during Google Summer of Code.
For 5 days in October the Google Summer of Code
Doc Summit, organized together with FLOSS Manuals
, will bring together four documentation teams from open source projects, guest speakers, and free documentation ‘free agents’ to discuss everything and anything concerning the free documentation of free software. The event will feature a two day unconference
and a three day Book Sprint. During the Book Sprint each project will produce a Book ready for distribution in print and electronic book formats.
The event is an ambitious project. Not only are unconferences about free software documentation scarce, never before has a Book Sprint been attempted with four projects working simultaneously on their own book. It’s going to be an extremely interesting and challenging event.
Free software documentation has often been a very low priority for free software projects. Often the documentation suffers from common flaws including:
- no documentation existing at all
- assumptions about the user’s knowledge are set too high
- poor navigation
- unexplained jargon
- there is no visual component
- the documentation is proprietary or ‘closed’
- the format is unreadable
- no translation workflow
- operational steps are missing, unexplained, written ‘from memory’ or state how the software ‘should’ operate
- the documentation is out of date, not easily re-usable or not easily modifiable.
The Google Summer of Code Doc Summit will attempt to discuss and address these problematic issues and look towards positive models for documentation production. We hope to shine light on the importance of the free software documentation ‘sector’ in the ecology of Free software. Free (libre) documentation is not simply an aid for learning how to use free software, it is a road into education and adoption in industry, a tool for demonstrating to clients how free software will meet their needs and expectations, and an important promotional tool for the advancement of free software. A healthy free documentation sector is both socially and economically empowering. We believe Free Documentation of Free Software efforts and ideals should be valued on the same level as free software itself and that is exactly what we plan to do at this Summit.
The Google Summer of Code
Doc Summit is more than a think tank and an opportunity to discuss real world issues. Four projects, OpenMRS
, and OpenStreetMap
, will have a chance to directly strengthen their documentation efforts. We look forward to working together with each of the selected teams and individuals to help them produce their own book by the end of the five day summit.
It’s going to be a great event.
April Phelps is a LEED-accredited designer who works at the New England Aquarium creating new exhibits and enhancing existing ones. Boston’s New England Aquarium is one of the many non-profit organizations to which we’ve granted SketchUp Pro licenses as part of the SketchUp for Nonprofits program.
SketchUp Pro has been a big help to us in the New England Aquarium Design Department. The Aquarium was founded in 1969 and attracts over 1.3 million visitors a year to our waterfront location. Recently the Aquarium’s capital improvement plan called for a complete renovation of our changing exhibits space, and we decided to part with the Aquarium’s traditional design aesthetic and embark on a new path.
Families touching the rays in our new shark and ray touch tank exhibit
The newly completed exhibit we designed in SketchUp Pro is called The Trust Family Foundation Shark and Ray Touch Tank. It features sharks and rays in a mangrove-themed tank surrounded by shallow edges and viewing windows, allowing visitors to experience a close encounter with these animals.
The exhibit presents these incredible species in a way that highlights their importance in a healthy ocean ecosystem. It also emphasizes the value of conserving essential coastal habitats, such as mangroves and lagoons. During evening hours the new space is also used as an event venue for private functions.
View from the entrance of the shark and ray touch tank. On top is our design phase
rendering; below is an opening day photograph.
The Aquarium provides unique challenges for designers. We have a variety of internal clients with different needs, and we need a modeling program that works quickly and accurately to convey our ideas. SketchUp’s quick modeling capabilities provided me the extra time needed to explore multiple design options on this project.
SketchUp also enabled our design team to give everyone at the Aquarium a sense of the new exhibit’s aesthetics quickly and easily. In addition to quickly creating renderings, we imported actual material samples into our models. This allowed staff and visitors to get a sense of scale and of how significant the interaction with animals would be.
View from inside the exhibit towards the Lagoon and Cassiopeia tanks. Above is
our design phase rendering; below is an opening day photograph.
Our traditional design aesthetic for the Main Building is to make the visitor feel like they are submerged underwater, looking through portals to all the fish. The new exhibit needed to be airy and bright, allowing visitors to feel that they are no longer submerged but at the beach level interacting with the animals. To achieve this we revealed the once covered up skylights and installed a significant amount of energy efficient lighting. With natural and artificial lighting we simulated the feeling of wading around a beach touching sharks and rays.
View of The Trust Family Foundation Shark and Ray Touch Tank Gift Shop. The top image is our design phase rendering; below it is an opening day photograph.
This “no surprises” methodology allowed us to receive design input from different departments quickly. Given our very tight schedule and lack of resources, it proved to be most helpful. We’re excited to continue to use SketchUp Pro on future projects and renovations at the New England Aquarium.