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HL7 creates a RIM Based Application Architecture (RIMBAA) group

Publication date: May 18, 2008

During the recent HL7 working group meeting (WGM) in Phoenix a proposal was accepted to create a RIM Based Application Architecture (RIMBAA) working group. It will provide a joint forum for HL7 members who are interested in, or are in the process of creating, RIM based applications and/or databases.

The HL7 Java SIG met during the last HL7 Working group Meeting (WGM) in Phoenix, where after some discussion a motion was passed to change the name to "RIM Based Application Architecture (RIMBAA)" and to widen its scope. The change will probably come into effect during the next HL7 WGM in September 2008.

Peter Hendler, one of the committee chairs, phrased the reason for extending the scope as follows:
"The [HL7 version 3] RIM model is too good to be limited to messaging. If someone were to show a programmer the RIM datamodel - and not give them any pre-information that it was created by an organization called HL7, and the scope of HL7 is messaging - if you just put the datamodel in front of a programmer or an architect and say: please look at this model, and you ask them: what do you think this model is for. Probably they'd look at the model and they'd say this is a very comprehensive model which could be used for making healthcare applications and could probably even be used to make persistence layers and relational databases."

The Java SIG has been focused on using the RIM in ways as stated above. As Peter states "The essence of the work of the Java SIG has always been more RIM-ish than Java-ish" which is one of the reasons why he is in favor of the change in scope. One of the additional reasons is that next to RIM based applications in the US he became aware of other such implementations, e.g. RIM based applications in the Netherlands. These applications may be based on different programming languages and frameworks - they do however share the fact that they all have a RIM based application architecture.

The full interview with Peter Hendler can be seen here:

The RIMBAA Working Group will present the various approaches that have already been implemented though out the world and compare our experiences. These experiences will be the basis of a best practices document which describes the approaches to take when one designs a new RIM based application, as well as the situation in which one or more of the layers of an application are legacy and can not be re-designed.

To quote the draft mission and charter:

  • The mission of the RIMBAA Working Group is to serve as a focus for those who are interested in using the RIM for application and database design, and to promote the development of HL7 Version 3-compliant applications.
  • The benefits of RIM based applications are not limited to accepting and creating ITS platform specific RIM based messages and documents. The RIM can be used as a universal model for designing both applications and databases. This has the advantage that it saves time and resources by not having to design new one-of application frameworks and databases.

"The RIM is more than just messaging" says Peter. I concur, the RIM is much more than just a model for the exchange of data: it can be (and is) used as a database model, as a model for application (business level) objects, or as the starting point for the generation of user interfaces.


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