OpenMRS Book Sprinting

Today there exists three books that did not exist a week ago. That’s the result of a good book sprint. The Google Summer of Code Doc Camp provided an opportunity for open source projects to each write a book better documenting their software with the help of a few “free-agent” documentation specialists. This year, OpenMRS joined BRL-CAD, an open source solid modeling system, and Mallard, a markup language for generating extra helpful, task-oriented software documentation.

The week was fast-paced and exciting! On Monday, we got to know each others’ projects, nailed down our target audience and desired outcomes, and brainstormed ways in which we might share this new resource after the week was over. By Tuesday mid-morning, we had a table of contents. We chose the sections we were each most excited about to write first. By the end of Tuesday we had our core chapters mostly written and spent Wednesday writing our introductory and supporting material. Thursday we edited. The week was a lot of work and a lot of fun. We were inspired and well fed.

L to R: Eric Holscher, Elyse Voegeli, & Jordan Kellerstrass
L to R: Eric Holscher, Elyse Voegeli, & Jordan Kellerstrass

And that is how the book titled “Contributing to OpenMRS: Getting Started as a Developer” came to be. Usually the hardest part of making meaningful contributions to any open source project is getting started. On behalf of the authors and broader OpenMRS community, we hope this book helps significantly lower the hurdles new OpenMRS developers encounter, whether they are new to open source projects, Health IT, OpenMRS, or all three. The book introduces OpenMRS development processes and architecture, walks the reader through setting up a development environment and building a basic module, overviews OpenMRS collaboration tools and where to go for support, and suggests a potential progression of becoming a seasoned developer community member. Whew. 🙂

L to R: Michael Downey, Daniel Kayiwa & Suranga Kasthurirathne
L to R: Michael Downey, Daniel Kayiwa & Suranga Kasthurirathne

After only one short week of book sprinting, we could certainly improve and add things to make the book better. As our world and OpenMRS change, we can and hope to maintain this resource. It will soon have its own issue-tracking JIRA space. Experienced OpenMRS developers and community members can read the book for accuracy. New OpenMRS developers might be able to provide the best feedback on whether or not this book accomplishes its goals by trying it out.

Printed books in hand after only a few days
Printed books in hand after only a few days!

You can read “Contributing to OpenMRS: Getting Started as a Developer” at the FLOSS Manuals web site: If you prefer a PDF, you can download one for offline reading at

We want to know what you think about the book! After you take a look, fill out our brief survey and share your feedback with us so we can improve future versions:

Huge special thanks to Adam Hyde at FLOSS Manuals, Allen Gunn from Aspiration, and all our friends at the Google Open Source Programs Office.

NOTE: This article was cross-posted from the blog of OpenMRS contributor Jordan Kellerstrass. Photos courtesy Adam Hyde & Michael Downey, CC-BY-SA.

OpenMRS Book Sprinting

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