Fileman Code Convergence: Testing, Production, and Support

For those new to this project, File Manager version 22.2 is the flagship project for VISTA reunification, a code-convergence movement that aims to get the core of VISTA aligned across all VISTA implementations. Code convergence is on the very short list of the top strategic priorities for the VISTA community - right up there with Meaningful Use, ICD-10, and just a couple other things - because it offers the community a way to leap ahead in productivity, by reducing the amount of reinventing the wheel that goes on across all the VISTA dialects. With a converged, shared, common core codebase to VISTA, any innovation anywhere becomes an innovation for everyone, multiplying our productivity. And being able to do things only once rather than five or six times frees up all that wasted development talent to work on more productive and exciting work than doing the same thing as everyone else only slightly differently.

Code convergence is best done from the inside of the architecture outward, starting with aligning the codebase of common services - and other than Standard MUMPS, nothing is more core to the infrastructure than File Manager. This is one of the core strategic imperatives behind the FLAP project - to take the first major step toward VISTA reunification.

Fileman 22.2 aims the community in the right direction with Fileman. It takes the most advanced version of Fileman out there - George Timson's thousand changes that make up MSC Fileman, which is running in production at all Medsphere sites - and wraps it up with upgraded documentation, more testing, a suite of additional changes to better support Fileman distribution and installation, and some more Meaningful Use support in the form of an upgraded Language file. It is compatible with every major VISTA dialect except the sadly neglected DOD version, CHCS, which we left as a challenge for a future version.

It was tested by superstar physician-developer Kevin Toppenberg, who proved that it works with CPRS and with the many new Delphi-and-broker-based clients he and Eddie Hagood have written. They were so satisfied with Fileman 22.2 that they moved it to production months ago, where it continues to support real healthcare.

It has been tested by two IHS test sites - in test environments, not production - where they proved that it's compatible with the RPMS dialect, including Vuecentric.

It was tested by Fileman testing expert David Whitten in a personal test environment at Central Regional Hospital, where he proved that the newly restored stand-alone Fileman configuration of Fileman 22.2 works as planned. As he digs deeper into Fileman's architecture, he's going to begin posting questions and comments here in this forum to stimulate a discussion of what we should do with Fileman next.

It was tested by internationalization champion George Kiriazopoulos, who proved that Fileman 22.2's new internationalization features work as planned. George also pointed us to some work we need to do with Medsphere to get Medsphere OpenVistA ready to install Fileman 22.2.

We're reaching out now to Medsphere to see about helping prepare them so they can roll out Fileman 22.2. Initial discussions are promising, so perhaps we will see Medsphere migrate to Fileman 22.2 in the months ahead.

Likewise, we've reached out to IHS about when we can expect to see them begin methodical in-house testing in preparation for a rollout of Fileman 22.2 across IHS production sites. Tentatively, they're looking at beginning this work after they finish their work to achieve EHR certification capable of reaching Meaningful Use 2. From most community members, that would sound like FM 22.2 is a year away from rollout, but IHS is the clear leader right now in MU development, so it's likely only a few months away. They're surprisingly close.

Central Regional Hospital of North Carolina can't roll out Fileman 22.2 right now because they're in the middle of their go-live; they expect to have all their units live with WorldVistA EHR by the end of the year, after which they can take a breath long enough to look at rolling out Fileman 22.2. Before then, though, they're going to discuss whether they can load it up in test environments.

If you are running any dialect of VISTA except CHCS, we invite you to join this stage of VISTA reunification by testing and ultimately deploying Fileman 22.2. The individuals and institutions above have already blazed the way, leaving a low-risk trail anyone can follow now. Like any VISTA infrastructure package, Fileman has to be installed with users off the system, but it takes only a few minutes to do it. If you have questions or concerns about this, please don't hesitate to ask. The FLAP team is standing by to support you.

We specifically invite WorldVistA and DSS to join in the testing of Fileman 22.2. It's backward compatible with FOIA VISTA, which both of their dialects are extensions of, and that was the platform the team most extensively tested 22.2 against during development.

VA is waiting to see if the community will embrace this new version of Fileman before they will install it in production in VA, so waiting for VA to do so first just creates a Catch-22 situation. By taking the initiative and converging on this common version of File Manager, we will prove to VA that we're serious about collaborating. Where Fileman 22.2 is concerned, VA is looking to the OSEHRA VISTA community to take a leadership role.

It's not often in life that we are openly invited to take the lead. At times like this, it's easier to make history than to predict it. As David Whitten often says, let's make great things happen.