What Jer Thinks is about »
I have become an OpenMRS developer.
The process began when I first heard about OpenMRS, a "community-developed, open-source, enterprise electronic medical record system platform," while perusing job postings in Indianapolis. The Regenstrief Institute site was driven by Plone, so naturally, I was intrigued. Several phone calls and one trip to this illustrious city later, I was given the opportunity to come on as a Systems Engineer, dedicated to OpenMRS development.
What I did not know at the time is how extensive OpenMRS's installation base is (click to see a map, courtesy of RI's Michael Downey). My role at Regenstrief Institute also incorporates support for the AMRS / AMPATH installation in Eldoret, Kenya. In just a few very short weeks, I have enjoyed conversations with several developers and implementers from around the world. This is exactly what I have been waiting for.
Open source development requires a developer to change perspectives. One has to be open to new ideas, from other cultures as well as other paradigms. A developer has to stay informed and be ready to contribute advice, especially if another developer begins work down a similar path. The grammar and language used to document, within code or on a wiki, has to be internationally understandable and accessible. Finally, if a developer really wants to affect the direction of development, participation in the online community is mandatory. This includes frequent discussions and meetings, and contributing effective, well-formed and useful code on a regular basis.
To be fair, my experience in the client-driven software development realm allowed me some opportunities for exciting innovation. I was involved in implementing an early WSGI framework on top of Zope (and Plone) to deliver highly targeted content in unique ways. We brought a static site with literally millions of daily hits into a multi-server Wordpress installation with a custom ajax rating plugin, and saw it bought up by NBC Sports. I also became integrated with voice technology used in distribution centers and long term care, and got to travel quite a bit.
I appreciate everything I have learned over the last several years, working for both open source and for-profit efforts. That said, I am very excited to be on board at Regenstrief Institute, and cannot wait to meet the people I work with daily in Kenya. For now, I believe I am in the right place at the right time.