Poll: What should we call our web application?

On a recent developers forum, we discussed the general confusion surrounding OpenMRS naming conventions. Specifically, the distinction between “OpenMRS 2.x” and “OpenMRS Platform 1.11” isn’t clear to everyone and could be improved. The recommendation made during the call was to simply drop the leading “OpenMRS” from the terms we’ve been using over the past few years:

  • “OpenMRS Core” → “Core”
  • “OpenMRS Platform” → “Platform”
  • “OpenMRS Reference Application” → “Reference Application”

While the name for “Core” (openmrs-core) and “Platform” (core + web services) aren’t up for debate, not everyone is in love with referring to our next web application as “Reference Application 2.4”. Before making a final call on this and updating the wiki for consistency, we’d like to know what you think.

If not “OpenMRS 2.4”, what should we call our application?

  • Reference Application 2.4
  • Community Distribution 2.4
  • None of the above (reply with your idea)

0 voters

“Reference Application 2.4” has some advantages: (1) we have been referring to our web application as the “reference application” in the wiki and JIRA, so existing documentation won’t need to change much, and (2) the name describes our goal of the community’s application being a reference or starting point.

“Community Distribution 2.4” or another name would require more effort to update the wiki & JIRA to use the new name, but may do a better job of communicating the purpose of the application. If we choose a completely different name, it must not already be known/trademarked.

I (@burke) have vetoed a seemingly logical suggestion of “EMR 2.4” because: (1) this would make the expanded name of our application redundant as “Open Medical Record Systems Electronic Medical Record System” and, more importantly, (2) we would increase the clash & confusion with OpenEMR, another open source medical record system, by having “OpenEMR” and the “OpenMRS EMR”.

OpenMRS Glossary

  • Core: The code in openmrs-core. This is our Java API.

  • Platform: Core + web services (low level web support may be included in the future)

  • Reference Application: Our web application at demo.openmrs.org. This includes a bunch of modules running on top of the platform.

  • Distributions: A combination of modules and content to serve a specific need or region (e.g., Bahmni, KenyaEMR, etc.). The reference application is effectively the community’s distribution.

Most people looking for a medical record system download and work with the reference application oblivious to the details underneath (i.e., a “platform” comprising a core API + web service modules) just as many people download and use the WAR file oblivious to the fact that there’s a JAR inside of it running our API.


Since this started in Kenya (Correct me if I am wrong) I propose a combination of swahili and English words to name the ref app. “AfyaRec 2.4”. Afya stands for health in swahili and Rec is a short for records.

Is it the name that’s confusing or the difference in version numbering? I think Reference Application is fine, but it would be good if there was a plan to eventually have only one version number across Core, Platform and Reference Application (or at least the same major version number).

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@pascal +1, as a newbie to the community that’s my biggest confusion wrt to the platform and reference application, it’s important to keep the nomenclature in sync. Obviously there is a practical consideration of whether the reference application can be kept in sync with the platform and core versions.

Another area to look at is when there is more than one reference application for example HIV, TB, Patient point of care, etc. What will those be named?

What happens when there is a community and paid version? Will the paid version be called enterprise?

What about the standalone version with a ready to run installer?

I would agree keep it OpenMRS and push along more pre-built configurations to make it easy for the end users


@pascal and @ssmusoke,

It is infeasible and undesirable to have the platform be released at the same cadence as the reference application. We target having major releases for the core and platform yearly (and the last 3 are “supported”). We target major releases of the reference application twice a year (and we haven’t clearly stated what is supported, but I would say just the last one).

Just to point out, the major change we will be making is that there will no longer be a single piece of software that is just called “OpenMRS” and I think this should clear things up.

E.g. it should be a lot more clear if we have “Reference Application 2.3 built on top of Platform 1.11”, as compared to the current state that was “OpenMRS 2.2 build on top of OpenMRS Platform 1.11”.

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Great questions & comments, @ssmusoke!

Our versioning conventions are to increment major versions when there are backwards-incompatible changes. We specifically decided that the platform and the web application should be able to evolve indepdendently. I’m concerned about enforcing rules that force us to arbitrary change or avoid changing version numbers according to our conventions. If we clarify our naming and continue to have confusion solely from version numbering, then we can consider changes to versioning (e.g., naming versions). But step #1 is to decide on the name of our application.

We’re working to make it easier to package and distribute vertical solutions (HIV, TB, point of care, etc.) within the reference application. We aren’t planning on (nor does the community have the bandwidth for) supporting multiple distributions. Organizations can continue to create specific distributions to suit their needs and will inherit the need to come up with their own name (KenyaEMR, Bahmni, etc.).

There won’t be a paid version. The community distribution is free to everyone, forever. Organizations may choose to create paid versions of the application, but that’s not the mission for the OpenMRS Community.

The standalone will continue to be referred to as “Standalone” or the “<chosen name> Standalone”.

This is what we have tried to do over the past year or two (i.e., referring to our web application as the “Reference Application” amongst developers and branding it as simply “OpenMRS”) and has led to confusion, since everything can be called “OpenMRS” (including the community).

@burke how is the name going to be voted if it is not in the poll? I thought if someone suggests a new name then it would be added in the list.

@willa, Discourse won’t let me edit the poll.

@michael, are you able to add “AfyaRec 2.4” as a third option (above “None of the above”)? Or can you grant me the privilege to do it?

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to add or remove poll options after the first 5 minutes.

Ack! :anguished: Discourse fail. I can’t even add @willa’s suggestion to the original post along with instructions to choose “None of the above” and add a comment to vote for it. Apparently a Poll on OpenMRS Talk isn’t the way to build & vote on a list of suggested names for something. Since I’m not allowed to edit my original post, I’ll list alternative name suggestions in this post.

If you want to suggest an alternative name or vote on another name previously suggested, please cast your vote as “None of the above” in the poll and add a comment like “+1 for <name here>”.

Alternative names suggested:

In the interest of historical context, I will re-suggest the name suggested by @nyoman (since he’s not actively involved lately) for the “OpenMRS 2.x” product – Samsara.

Personally, I strongly believe we should take the lead from most other software products and offer a specific, unique (rather than a generic) name that can be a trademark of the OpenMRS Community. (Examples from others are KenyaEMR, Bahmni, AMRS, OpenHMIS, etc.) I am not a lawyer, but I do not believe the words “Reference Application” are distinctive enough so that “consumers can distinguish it as identifying a particular product” (WIPO).

Samsara is already trademarked.

KenyaEMR, AMRS, and OpenHMIS are all amalgams of community/site + acronym for type of system. That formula would suggest either (1) “OpenMRS” (what we’re trying to move away from) or (2) “OpenMRS EMR” (which is redundant and encroaches on OpenEMR).

We’d need a name that isn’t already trademarked and, ideally, for which we could purchase the domain, like @willa’s suggestion of “AfyaRec”.

Yes. I don’t think anybody thought we would try to trademark “Reference Application”… though, ironically, referenceapplication.com isn’t taken. :wink:

Again, IANAL but from what I understand and from our OpenMRS Trademark Policy, trademark is not a verb but rather a noun. In other words:

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.

OpenMRS trademarks are either words (e.g., “OpenMRS” and “OpenMRS Foo” and “Foo”) or graphic logos that are intended to serve as trademarks for that OpenMRS software.

Additionally, just because a name is used by someone else, as a trade mark or otherwise, such use does not necessarily prevent the use by another organization. Again, from our OpenMRS Trademark Policy:

Indeed, if a trademark is used in such a way that the relevant consuming public will likely be confused or mistaken about the source of a product or service sold or provided using the mark in question, then likelihood of confusion exists and the mark has been infringed.

In other words, as best as I understand the law (!?!) use of any name by another is only an issue if the same name is being used for the same type of thing/product.

Hope this is helpful. Perhaps @lrosen, or someone else more knowledgeable than I, can can answer further questions if they come up. :smile:

I had presumed the idea is that the official name (trademarkable) would be “OpenMRS Reference Application” and that we’d merely be calling it “Reference Application” as a common shorthand.

If the idea is that we’d correct anyone who ever says “OpenMRS Platform” to say “it’s really just Platform” then I have to change my votes…

Take a look at this: Trademark Considerations by INTA.

To add to the confusion, a trademark is neither a verb nor a noun; it is an adjective.

The most useful advice I can give you from this distance is to select a notable and memorable and unique trademark, and not 100 of them. Then market that trademark. Build it into the minds of the entire world.


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I tend to favour arbitrary names that may have unrelated meaning but good. I think it is more effective when it comes to branding than using generic names or acronyms. Examples of names that prove this concept are ubuntu, android, apache, chrome, firefox, bower and many more. I would be more inclined to use a name like “afyaRec” or even “AfyaOne” than “Reference Application” or OpenMRS (This is even harder to pronounce sometimes :smile:)

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Hahahhaa. I have some times heard people call is OpenMisses. :slight_smile:

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Please keep voting, if you care!

(@burke, we should apply the outcome here to our upcoming release, so we do need to converge soon!)