The OpenHMIS Project is a community made up of a wide range of stakeholders, including Sponsors, Committers, Contributors and Users.

Users are community members who have a need for the project. They are the most important members of the community and without them the project would have no purpose. Anyone can be a user; there are no special requirements.  The project asks its users to participate in the project and community as much as possible. User contributions enable the project team to ensure that they are satisfying the needs of those users. Common user contributions include (but are not limited to):
  • evangelising about the project (e.g. a link on a website and word-of-mouth awareness raising)
  • informing developers of strengths and weaknesses from a new user perspective
  • providing moral support (a ‘thank you’ goes a long way)
  • providing financial support (the software is open source, but its developers need to eat)
  • Users who continue to engage with the project and its community will often become more and more involved. Such users may find themselves becoming contributors, as described in the next section.

Contributors are community members who contribute in concrete ways to the project. Anyone can become a contributor, and contributions can take many forms. There is no expectation of commitment to the project, no specific skill requirements and no selection process.  In addition to their actions as users, contributors may also find themselves doing one or more of the following:
  • supporting new users (existing users are often the best people to support new users)
  • reporting bugs
  • identifying requirements
  • providing graphics and web design
  • programming
  • assisting with project infrastructure
  • writing documentation
  • fixing bugs
  • adding features
Contributors engage with the project through the issue tracker and mailing list, or by writing or editing documentation. They submit changes to the project itself via patches, which will be considered for inclusion in the project by existing Committers who make up the Developers Council.  As Contributors gain experience and familiarity with the project, their profile within, and commitment to, the community will increase. At some stage, they may find themselves being nominated for Committership.

Committers are community members who have shown that they are committed to the continued development of the project through ongoing engagement with the community. Committership allows contributors to more easily carry on with their project related activities by giving them direct access to the project’s resources. That is, they can make changes directly to project outputs, without having to submit changes via patches.

This does not mean that a Committer is free to do what they want. While Committership indicates a valued member of the community who has demonstrated a healthy respect for the project’s aims and objectives, their work continues to be reviewed by the Developers Council before acceptance in an official release. The key difference between a Committer and a Contributor is when this approval is sought. A Committer seeks approval after the contribution is made, rather than before.

Seeking approval after making a contribution is known as a commit-then-review process. It is more efficient to allow trusted people to make direct contributions, as the majority of those contributions will be accepted by the project. The project employs various communication mechanisms to ensure that all contributions are reviewed by the community as a whole. By the time a Contributor is invited to become a Committer, they will have become familiar with the project’s various tools as a User and then as a Contributor.

Anyone can become a Committer; there are no special requirements, other than to have shown a willingness and ability to participate in the project as a team player. Typically, a potential Committer will need to show that they have an understanding of the project, its objectives and its strategy. They will also have provided valuable contributions to the project over a period of time.  New Committers can be nominated by any existing Committer. Once they have been nominated, there will be a vote by the Developers Council

It is important to recognise that Committership is a privilege, not a right. That privilege must be earned and once earned it can be removed by the Sponsors Council in extreme circumstances. However, under normal circumstances committership exists for as long as the Committer wishes to continue engaging with the project.