DSS frees vxVistA, changes the VistA game

According this press release on LinuxMedNews   DSS will be releasing vxVistA under the EPL in association with the Open Health Tools group.

This is huge news. DSS has been a proprietary VistA company for years. They have a tremendous amount of respect in the VistA community for technical competence and they have been slowly building important extensions to VistA for a long time.

vxVistA is a culmination of many of those improvements. DSS has many proprietary components, and not all of them will be released with vxVistA. I understand that DSS will soon have information published through its website that clarifies what is being released and what is not. They have already said that the version that will be released will not be CCHIT certified, although the codebase will largely be the same.

Still I have it on good authority that the release will be substantial. This is important because there are many missing components of FOIA VistA that vxVistA could address. It is not unreasonable to speculate that vxVistA could be the most technically advanced variant of VistA available under any license.

If they know what is good for them, Medsphere and ClearHealth will be paying careful attention. The moment this release is realized is not unreasonable to say that DSS is now the top company for open source VistA. They have more customers than either ClearHealth or Medsphere. They have extensive functionality in vxVistA that is not found in WebVistA (ClearHealth), OpenVistA (Medshere) or WorldVistA. DSS has a much deeper pool of VistA talent than any other single company that I know of. Do not get me wrong, Medsphere and ClearHealth have very experienced developers, but DSS has focused on MUMPS and VistA for years longer than either company has even been in existence.

It remains to be seen if DSS knows how to be an Open Source company. But they have always been straightforward, honest and open about their opinions and business strategies, and that is probably the most difficult lesson to learn.  If they can create a community portal that can compete with Medsphere.org (which is the best community site in the health FOSS industry) there may be no stopping them.

This is a game-changing announcement. At least I will have some fresh material for my next “State of the Source” talk.

EPL is a solid license, approved by both the FSF and OSI. That makes it both “free” and “open source”.  It is the license of choice for the OHT which will be hosting the code base. It is specifically designed to handle a project that has a FOSS core that will not be a threat to proprietary modules. Since DSS will be a hyrid proprietary/FOSS company for the foreseeable future, the reason for choosing the EPL should be obvious. So far, OHT has done little of substance, given the caliber of partners and resources that it has.  Many of us have been wondering when OHT would do something significant.

The fact that DSS has chosen to release its code through OHT brings a new relevance to OHT. There should be no confusion however; OHT is relevant because it is working to release DSS code, not the other way around. The code that DSS is releasing has the potential to be vastly more valuable than anything OHT has even attempted.

I want to point out that the devil is in the details. I have been assured by DSS President Mark Byers that the release will be significant, but I am not enough of a VistA expert to be able to determine to what degree this is true, even when DSS clarifies what they are releasing.  Because so much is available in FOIA VistA it might be difficult for a novice like myself to determine what the real value of DSS really is. Thankfully, the Hardhats community will quickly asses the value of the DSS release, and let MUMPS-outsiders like myself in on the evaluation in short order.

No matter what, this marks the entrance of DSS as a serious FOSS health IT vendor. To which I can only say “Welcome!”


6 thoughts on “DSS frees vxVistA, changes the VistA game

  1. While the entrance of DSS into the FOSS VistA market might signal trouble for some, I really believe it’s going to up the bar in terms of the quality of service VistA vendors provide. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way intimating that any VistA vendor is lacking in the service area; VistA is a tough landscape and nearly all of the current vendors do an amazing job in offering surrounding services. But the entry of DSS into the market definitely throws down the gauntlet and will force vendors to become even better.

    This will definitely make the market immensely more competitive but it’s going to be a huge boon for customers. And, when the customer wins, that’s FOSS at its best!

  2. I greatly appreciate the information you are providing in your blog. What do you feel is the best web base open source emr and why? VistA makes sense as a platform, but a client server app is expensive to deploy and support.


  3. Fred, we finally released the code and the collaboration environment(www.vxvista.org). I was assigned as a Conceptual Designer, Developer and Project Manager. My goal was to find a set of collaboration tools for VistA community members (including users, patients and developers). It was our goal to develop a collaboration environment to complement other great VistA community sites that we are currently using. We are providing a powerful tool to create GUI Mockups (Balsamiq) and a Workflow diagram software (Gliffy Diagram) that will help with the gap analysis and information flow analysis. We are planning to add more functionalities during the year in order to provide a suite of components that will help with the development of new modules. We are configuring a tool for Agile Project Management (GreenHopper) and an environment for bug and issues tracking (JIRA) that will be released soon. In our roadmap we have additional components that will assist with code development and code review. We hope that each of you can have fun using the tools provided. Thanks for your support and feedback.

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