sexta-feira, 20 de julho de 2012

A Surprising Encounter



Here's a video of me at the NHS Hackday in London a couple of months ago. I was hanging with Rob Tweed, undoubtedly the most interesting and forward thinking man in Mumps. And the man behind   EWD, which puts Mumps into the enterprise and behind an array of extremely trendy modern web-based front ends.

Our team's project, (entirely based on Rob's work, with data wrangling from Chris), was to pull NHS data into a Semantic Web format where it could be queried with SPARQL and shown in a variety of widgets from the MIT SMART platform for healthcare records.

Rob has big ambitions. In a world where healthcare IT and patient records are a scandalous litany of expensive, failed and cancelled projects wasting millions of dollars, Mumps based VistA is fast, solid (with 40 years of development behind it), and free (as in speech) software. Thanks to Rob and SMART it can start to present its data through standardized HTML5 apps that are as slick and up-to-date as anyone else's. And Rob has plans to make the whole thing available as single downloadable virtual machine. (I think, in VirtualBox format.)

To repeat, that's the equivalent of a £12 billion system (except ... er ... working) as a free download. That's the virtue of free software, folks.

(Of course, yes there is still a huge installation, training, integration cost involved in putting a system like this in place, but if you start with something that a) exists and is b) free then you might actually get some kind of result for your 12 billion.)

Update : Why is this surprising? Well, partly because I'm kind of out of the Mumps world at the moment, and went along to the NHS hackday without any thought Rob would be there or that I'd end up in the Mumps team. But I've been a fan of his work so it was great to meet him.  Also, I'm a SemWeb sceptic, so I have no idea what I'm doing in a project which is about using RDF and SPARQL as its standard file-format, the way SMART does. :-) 

terça-feira, 28 de setembro de 2010

I'm still sparring with Rob Tweed over MUMPS's dynamic scoping.

domingo, 26 de setembro de 2010

The Mumps scope conversation is hotting up (see Rob's answer and comments). And he leads me to a new MUMPS blog.

segunda-feira, 20 de setembro de 2010

I just answered a question about MUMPS on programmers.stackexchange.com

Having been out of that world for a couple of years, my thinking is that the NoSQL movement is probably the best and worst thing to happen to MUMPS. Ultimately it's likely to both vindicate and kill it. Because somebody, at some point, is going to reinvent MUMPS's database and query structure almost identically, but with no connection to the MUMPS tradition. Then people will rave about this new storage system. But no-one will ever choose a MUMPS derivative again.

For example, a month or two ago, I was talking with a colleague about using redis to cache a look-up of something in our Django application. We had a large number of records addressed by a triple of three keys, and needed to quickly get subsets matching one or two of these keys (but different combinations at different times).

This is the kind of thing that MUMPS eats for breakfast. But we were finding it hard to squash into redis's key,val pair structure. Even with dictionaries. (Same would be true of memcached etc.) For the first time in my life, I found myself actually regretting that I couldn't write this module in Cache ObjectScript.

quarta-feira, 15 de setembro de 2010

Dell Streak tablets part of their health-care strategy.

sexta-feira, 23 de julho de 2010

Andy Oram at O'Reilly on VistA.

I wouldn't dare guess whether VistA will continue as a niche product or will suddenly emerge to eat up the U.S. market for electronic medical systems. But I think it's definitely something to watch.