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Orvos Mission, Philosophy and Principles

Mission

Orvos is dedicated to enabling great medical care by enabling the large-scale analysis of biomedical data.

Free and Open Software

Our work is driven by a belief that software should be free and accessible to all. Orvos is free, and it always will be. We will never purposely constrain the scalability of the software or limit its functionality.

We believe in the freedoms defined by the Free Software Foundation's article, What is Free Software:

  • The freedom to run the program, for any purpose.
  • The freedom to study how the program works and adapt it to your needs.
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others.
  • The freedom to improve the program and release your improvements to the public, so that everyone benefits.

We also adhere to the 10 core principles of open source software defined by the Open Source Initiative:

  • Software must be free to redistribute.
  • The program must include source code.
  • The licence must allow people to experiment with and redistribute modifications.
  • Users have a right to know who is responsible for the software they are using.
  • There should be no discrimination against any person or group.
  • The licence must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field.
  • No-one should need to acquire an additional licence to use or redistribute the program.
  • The licence must not be specific to a product.
  • The licence must not restrict other software.
  • The licence must be technology-neutral.

The commitment to free and open software is manifest in how the software is licensed and developed through and open and diverse community. (Learn more about Orvos Licensing Terms.)

Built by an Open Community

Open source software unlocks the potential of community to collaborate and develop in a decentralized way where the collective effort produces something greater than any individual or single company could achieve on their own. This is especially important in healthcare where the innovation has the potential to directly affect the health and well being of billions of people.

The Orvos design process is open and transparent. The project uses best-practices from agile development methodologies. A public backlog represents the work that is planned. There is a mailing list and IRC chat for conversations among developers and contributors, and we plan to hold regular design sessions through Google Hangout. Most decisions are made through a lazy consensus process and all processes are documented.

We maintain an fully public source code repository in GIT through the entire development process. Contribution is merit-based and the code review, issues, backlog, and release schedules are all open and transparent.

The Orvos community is organized around six core principles:

  1. Open source - We are committed to developing free and open software.
  1. Elegance - We aim to create software that is well designed, flexible, modular, extensible and easily maintainable. We strive for user experiences that are thoughtful, simple and easy-to-use.
  1. Transparency - All discussions and decisions happen in open forums. The community controls the design process. All decisions, processes, and discussions are documented and preserved in the project website.
  1. Quality - We strive to create highly-quality code that is reliable, secure, scalable, tested, documented and maintainable. We understand that Orvos powers mission-critical systems.
  1. Merit - Technical governance is a meritocracy. Working code wins arguments.
  1. Respect - We seek to build a respectful, collaborative community that is enjoyable to participate in and fosters healthy discussion and debate.

Relationship with Clinical Future, Inc.

Clinical Future started Orvos and is currently running and supporting the project. Today the only two commiters for Orvos are Clinical Future employees (Tom Clegg and Ward Vanderwege). As more developers join the project, commiters will be promoted on the basis of merit. As more organizations become involved we plan to transition the governance of Orvos to a member-controlled foundation organized in a way that is similar to the OpenStack Foundation.