Community (Inter)Views

by evoeges

In the coming week or so, I’ll be conducting interviews with as many people involved in OpenMRS as possible; developers, contributers, implementors, users. The biggest part of the documentation challenge is building something that the community wants to use and contribute to.  Michael and Burke helped develop a set of basic questions as the groundwork for the interviews, and hopefully as stepping-off points for taking advantage of the community as a resource for design:

  •  How do you interact with OpenMRS — Are you a developer or contributor? Are you an implementer? A user?
  • When you want to find an answer to something OpenMRS, what do you typically do?
  • What tools or methods do you generally start with? If that doesn’t work, what do you try next? What happens when you can’t find the answer?
  • What do you like about the currently available OpenMRS documentation?
  • What do you think could be most improved about OpenMRS documentation? What else?
  • What OpenMRS documentation/information resources do you think are missing for people like you?
  •  What do you think are the biggest challenges in keeping OpenMRS documentation and information up-to-date? And in keeping people engaged in documenting things they discover/change/update?
  •  If we worked on only one part of OpenMRS documentation, what would you want us to improve?

I conducted the first of these interviews today; here’s a very brief summary of the major ideas.

  • simplicity, consistency and clarity: in both content and organization, OpenMRS documentation needs to be more streamlined. Difficulty in finding information is just as daunting as difficulty in understanding information, especially for new users.
  • keeping things fresh: without a strong central presence in documentation, things become easily outdated and obsolete. Structure might change or information might move to new places with no record, or simply never be updated. This can be very confusing and even offputting, as it might seem that no-one is working in a specific area (when in reality they just might not have updated the documentation or created a new place for the information, or mentioned it on a mailing list but not the wiki, etc.)

I’m excited to see a range of OpenMRS experience, from newbie to veteran. Every perspective should provide valuable insight into addressing the documentation dhallenge. (Readers: if you are interested in participating or know someone who might be, please get in touch! evoeges [at] openmrs [dot] org.)