OpenMRS Developers' Guide

Appendix B: OpenMRS Glossary

Allergy list: A series of allergies from which a patient suffers.

Apache Maven: A build management tool used for OpenMRS development.

Bamboo: A continuous Integration (CI) tool used by OpenMRS.

Bug: A repeatable error or flaw in a program that causes an unexpected or incorrect result. 

Bundled module: An OpenMRS module that is prepackaged with an OpenMRS release.

Clinician: A doctor, nurse, or other clinical officer who provides health care to patients.

Cohort: A group of patients that can be defined by one or more common traits.

Contributor:  Any community member who participates and contributes towards the OpenMRS community. 

Core: The source code for the OpenMRS API and core modules. The core does not include the source code for other, optional modules.

Concept: The fundamental unit of capturing clinical information within OpenMRS. Concepts represent a single idea and include both questions and answers. "cough", "address", "duration", and "yes" are a few examples.

Concept dictionary: A list of all the medical and program-related terms used in OpenMRS as questions and answers.

Eclipse: A multi-language, open source Integrated Development Environment (IDE) recommended for OpenMRS development 

Customization: The idea of adapting a system to suit one's specific, particular needs.

Demo dataA sample anonymized data set, including 5,000 patients and 500,000 observations, is available for most releases of OpenMRS.

Electronic Medical Record: A digital version of a paper chart/document used to record patient data.

Electronic Medical Record system : A computer system that allows for recording, storage, and retrieval of Electronic Medical Records.

Encounter: A clinical transaction in which a group of data (e.g., observations, notes, and orders) are recorded. Encounters generally involve one (or a few) providers. Examples include the paper "encounter form" with which OpenMRS started, an order entry session, a daily note & associated orders written for patient while they are in the hospital, etc.

F/LOSS, FOSS, etc.: Free/libre and open source software. Software is freely licensed to use, copy, change and distribute. OpenMRS is licensed under the OpenMRS Public License based on the Mozilla Public License. 

Form: An electronic form that may be used to enter or view data for a patient.

Git: A distributed version control system (DVCS) that allows multiple developers to works simultaneously on a project without the need for a common network connection. 

GitHub: A web based hosting service for software development projects that use the Git revision control system. The OpenMRS source code is hosted on GitHub at

Groovy: A computer scripting language that allows automation and quick performance of tasks.

Hibernate: An object relational mapping (ORM) library for the Java language used by OpenMRS.

HL7: An abbreviation of Health Level Seven, a standard for exchanging information between medical applications.

Implementer: Someone who has or is in process of deploying OpenMRS in a specific location or context of use.

Informatics: The application and study of information technology and its use for society.

IRC: An abbreviation for Internet Relay Chat, an online tool to communicate with others in "real time". OpenMRS uses IRC to allow developers and implementers to collaborate and meet.

JIRA: An issue tracking /project management tool use by OpenMRS. Accessible at:

jRebel: A Java development-time tool that decreases turnaround by instantly reloading changes to your code, without having to restart the container or redeploy the application. 

Mailing list: A collection a sub group of community members' e-mail addresses.

Medical informatics: A discipline of studying the use of informatics in field of medical science.

Module: A software package that extends or changes OpenMRS functionality without interfering with core OpenMRS code and have full access to OpenMRS.

Module repository: An online resource to find and maintain community-developed OpenMRS add-on modules.

MySQL: An open source relational database management system (RDMS) popular with web application and used by OpenMRS. 

Observation: An atomic unit of information that is recorded about a patient at a moment in time.

Open source: A method of developing software where the source code is freely available for others to examine, use, and build upon. Also a type of software development community based around sharing of work and collaboration.

Platform: A computer system that is simple by design, and is intended to be customized and adapted for use in a wide variety of contexts.

Privilege: Defines what actions an authenticated user is allowed to perform within OpenMRS. 

Provider: A clinician who is responsible for providing care to a patient.

Spring Framework: An open source application framework and inversion of control container used by OpenMRS.

Sprint: A semi-agile process adopted by OpenMRS for implementing new features in a coordinated and speedy manner.

Super user: An OpenMRS user with permission to perform all management tasks in the application.

System administrator: A person who is responsible for day-to-day maintenance of a computer system or network.

User: A person who uses OpenMRS, or more specifically the data in the system representing that person.

Visit: A visit encompasses one or more encounters to describe an event where the patient has interacted with the healthcare system. Visits may occur within minutes/hours or may extend over days, weeks, or even months. Examples of visits include an outpatient (clinic) visit, a hospitalization, or a visit to the lab. 

Wiki: A web site containing documentation and other resources for a project or organization.

Workflow: A series of tasks to accomplish a goal.

YourKit: A CPU and memory Java Profiler with J2EE/J2ME support and IDE integration for various major Java IDEs.

For an up to date version of this glossary visit: