OpenMRS Summit : Where amazing happens!

I first found out about OpenMRS through the FOSSASIA Summit in Singapore in March this year. Since then, I have become heavily involved with the community first through Google Summer of Code 2015, where I developed a module to implement OAuth2 support and also worked on the FHIR module. Now, as Release Manager for Platform 2.0, I am leading the release process for our next major Platform, incorporating the latest tech stack in the core-API and migrating to REST’ful architecture. Additionally, as Developer Tools Manager, I have been working with the Infrastructure team for administration and maintenance of Atlassian JIRA, Confluence & Bamboo, Sonatype Nexus Maven repository, OpenMRS modules and Github.

The OpenMRS community has been instrumental to my involvement. The level of help, support and endorsement from developers has been truly inspiring.  The First Annual Worldwide Summit gave me the opportunity to convene with the project leaders in person for the first time to discuss, learn and brainstorm fresh ideas and perspectives. For me, it was eye-opening to meet the implementers, professors and medical professionals who use OpenMRS – actually hearing from them made me understand how the coding and developing is helping people all over the world.


I have quite an interesting anecdote about getting to OpenMRS- I was almost not able to make it due to exam scheduling conflict with my college and had to persuade my Head of Department to allow me finish exams the week prior to when they were scheduled. The sleepless nights before the Summit as I was scrambling to finish my semester requirements were worth it when I finally got to Singapore. It was The first person I talked in depth with was Wyclif,  who used to be Scrummaster before I took on the role and id among the top developers of our community. After that, it was all about putting faces to the names especially at the Pre-Summit BBQ dinner where I got a chance to talk to Burke, Paul, Darius, Suranga, Michael, Pascal, Kaweesi, other developers and implementers and understand their vision and motivation for being part of the organization. I knew I was in the company of good people when we “open sourced the food”, i.e. put leftover food into boxes and left those for those who might need it.


They say that the best learning comes from teaching and that was exactly my experience from giving the Lighting Talk on Platform 2.0. I got a lot of questions from implementers about the transition and new features before my talk that it made it easier for me to prepare what to highlight. As a result, the lightning talks were among the most appreciated sessions at the Summit. kudos to all our speakers!  Another experience I want to highlight is the hackathon where my team and developers were more cooperative than competitive, which had been my experience with past hackathons. So, I was pleasantly surprised when we were among the top teams. This experience for me encapsulates what makes OpenMRS so successful, it’s all about co-operation and friendly competition.

Additionally, the Summit enlightened me about new projects and opportunities to get more involved in ways that would accelerate the platform use and community membership. I learnt about Bahmni, which is an Indian Healthcare IT platform that incorporates OpenMRS and is supported by Thoughtworks, by attending their hands-on session. I got a chance to talk with PIH implementers from Haiti and Africa.This basically
allowed me to meet the community leaders and implementers and see OpenMRS through their eyes. Hence, making me more focused and more appreciative of my role as a Release Manager and Developer Tools Manager for our community.


This week-long Summit impressed on me again and again the power of amazing people in the community which makes OpenMRS what it is. After meeting with Neha from JHU, Maurya (my manager) and Pankaj, we decided to establish an OpenMRS community in India and laid down an initial plan. We intend to organizer multiple hackathons and meetups in different cities to get people acquainted with openMRS and possibly, get them involved as contributors.

Compared to other conferences I have been to, the Summit was very well-planned with a good mix of fun and work. I was able to hang out with hangout with my GSoC mentor, Harsha and colleagues from infrastructure team, Michael and Robby. I took some folks around for a tour of Little India, went tech shopping at Funan DigitaLife Mall with Paul, Burke and Robby as we were tasked to buy the prize for Scavenger Hunt winner.


What really made this Summit feel like a full circle was when I met Hong Phuc Dang, the founder of FOSSAsia who invited me to join their next conference as speaker. It was great to see OpenMRS and FOSSAsia support each other and employ the power of open source!

I’d really like to thank the OpenMRS community for giving me the opportunity to learn and contribute.


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