Specification Governance - migration process


This page provides a description of the governance of openEHR specifications managed by the openEHR Specification Program (SpecP), in the form of a 'Terms of Reference' document. The openEHR specifications constitute the formal basis for all openEHR software, content models and data. The current 'release of openEHR' is a release of the specifications.


The contributors to this process are acknowledged directly on the Specification Charter page .


This governance plan is currently under review by the following:

  • an external group of senior international e-health professionals;
  • the Specification Program seed group, (see below under 'Process').

The initial review and finalisation of a version 1.0 of the Terms of Reference was completed by 15 April 2012.

22 May 2012: The 'governance development process' (below) is now finalised by the Specification programme charter documents being submitted to the openEHR interim board.


The path to a fully operating Specification Program consists of a bootstrapping phase, acceptance of a v1 description of governance (i.e. the main content of this page), and then commencement of operation according to that document.

The bootstrapping phase is as follows:

  • Jan 2012 - openEHR interim board nominated Specification Program lead: Thomas Beale
  • Jan 2012 - openEHR interim board nominated Program 'seed group', i.e. a group of potential members, with recognised experience, who would perform the work of designing / reviewing the governance proposal. This group is as follows (note that this group, apart from being well-known experts in health informatics with at least some experience with openEHR, was otherwise chosen arbitrarily, and inclusion confers no special status in the post-bootstrapping phase)
    • Koray Atalag, Linda Bird, Heath Frankel, Sebastian Garde, Grahame Grieve, Dipak Kalra, Chunlan Ma, Ian McNicoll, David Moner, Andrew Patterson, Pablo Pazos, Isabel Roman, Amnon Shabo, Erik Sundvall.

The governance development process is as follows:

  • Initial reviews on the governance description (main part of this page) are completed and a first agreed version of this governance document produced by 15 May 2012.
  • The draft is provided to the openEHR Board for review and acceptance.
  • The resulting agreed v1.0 governance document is posted in a Specification Program 'home location' on the openEHR web and/or wiki.

The Program will then start as follows.

Phase 1 - initial members, taken from seed group

  • the interim Program lead creates a minimal membership by requesting nominations from the seed group to become full members of the Program in at least one core CMG.
  • In the interests of fairness and transparency, each of these members will need to fill out the Qualification form and provide the requisite qualifying information; these will be posted publicly.
  • In this phase, the Fairness Rules must be respected, but the 3 member rule for core CMGs will be relaxed.

Phase 2 - build the core membership

  • the interim Program lead, acting as interim EC co-chair, will issue an open invitation for nominations for more members to the openEHR announce list.
  • the qualification process described in the ToR document will be followed to process the nominations
  • this will continue until at least 3 members have been reached for the core CMGs
  • once this is achieved, each CMG will nominate a representative to the EC, rather than having elections, since the EC is initially empty.
  • the interim co-chair will technically resign
  • the EC membership will elect an official co-chair
  • at this point, the Program now has its core CMGs minimally filled, an EC, and a co-chair.

Phase 3 - normal operation

  • The process described in ToR document will now be used to grow the membership, create new CMGs and SAGs.
  • Some changes will be required to the existing specification assets to bring them into line with the new governance and licensing. These are described below.

The Terms of Reference Document

The document for review is available here .

Specification Asset Migration

A number of changes are required to the current specification assets so they are compatible with the new governance approach. These will be undertaken as a matter of priority and include the following.


Most specifications are currently expressed as Adobe FrameMaker documents. There have been criticisms of the use of this tool in the past (mainly due to being non-open source), but no obvious replacement is available. Furthermore, FrameMaker can itself be used to manage assets as XML DITA documents, following open standards, so it is likely to provide the best route to other tooling in the future. The other advantage of FrameMaker is that it generates high quality PDF and web documents (via WebWorks) from the same source. Converting from FrameMaker at this point is likely to be significant work, for little obvious gain.

It is therefore proposed to require Adobe FrameMaker for the stable specifications and optionally for the trial specifications, and to use other methods for development specifications, e.g. wiki.

Licenses will be provided by the Foundation as needed.

Stable Specifications

The specifications currently published as PDFs have the following appearance.

The following changes are proposed:


Current situation

Change required

1. openEHR logo

This is not standard across all docs.

Standardise to current openEHR logo

2. Left sidebar logos

Left side bar currently contains UCL and Ocean logos (the original expectation had been support from other companies).

Remove these logos.

3. Document identification block

Currently, document 'editors' are identified.


4. Specification context graphic

A graphic that shows where the current specification fits within the overall specification set.


5. openEHR boilerplate

This text is probably fine out the table is no longer appropriate.

Replace the table by text / link to the openEHR Specification Program governance documents.

6. Copyright statement (pg 2)

Currently an openEHR specific copyright statement.

Replace with the agreed CC-BY-SA text.

Trial Specifications


Development Specifications