Pleasant surprise with open-source module development

I regularly work with Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR). I also do a lot with JavaScript/Node.JS/NPM. About a year ago, I found that there weren’t any openly available modules for serializing and deserializing FHIR resources in JavaScript. Needing this functionality in several use-cases, I decided to develop an open-source one. It is called “fhir” in the NPM registry and FHIR.js on GitHub.

The module supports the following:

  • [De]Serializing resources between JSON and XML
  • Basic validation of resources
    • Including value set validation (for value sets baked into the core standard)
  • Server-side and client-side deployment (it can be used in browser-only applications)

There were some challenges along the way… Mainly, JavaScript doesn’t have particularly great support for XML processing. There are a few modules that parse XML into JS objects, but they all (at the time) had some difficult deployment scenarios or had programming quirks that it made it difficult to use. A year later, these issues have been largely resolved with new open-source modules that I have integrated into the FHIR.js module.

To my (pleasant) surprise, according to npm-stat, the open-source module has received over 4,000 downloads in the last year! Further-more, we had several people identify some issues (which were resolved), and even some pull/merge requests for modifications/fixes that they made in their own forks of the repository.

I will continue to maintain and improve this module, seeing that it provides value to more people than I originally anticipated.

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