I believe we’ll look back at 2008 as the year the OpenClinica open source community truly coalesced. From a size perspective we grew to over five thousand members, double the size of a year ago. Numbers of downloads, new registrations, and adopters in production all increased dramatically. However, the real substantive change has been in the emergence of committed individuals and organizations who participate in the community in meaningful ways.

As evidence of this, the first OpenClinica Community Virtual Forum took place in December. The goals of the forum are to provide an open environment to share ideas, promote collaboration within the community, and determine future direction in the use and development of the OpenClinica electronic data capture software. The meeting topics ranged from new feature development to how to make the development process more accessible to contributors. You can review the minutes here. Participants joined from industry and academia, from software development and data management backgrounds, and were able to share their ideas, experiences, and needs. Many of these participants are doing their own customization/extension of OpenClinica while others are providing detailed feeback and design ideas. We’ve previously discussed motivations for contributing to open source and it’s great to see it work in practice.

The next Virtual Forum will be in February 2009, and every other month thereafter. Participation is open to all, though we are limiting the size of the group to ensure productive discussion.

And that’s not all that’s happening. If you’re on one of our mailing lists you’ll have noticed the greater frequency and depth of discussion threads. The number of code contributions and branches of the OpenClinica code is increasing every month. On a related note, we will soon be announcing the first face-to-face OpenClinica User & Developer Summit.

All of this puts us in an exciting position as we start 2009. The OpenClinica community will continue to advance the vision of bringing free, open, standards-based EDC to users all over the world. This vision will grow with the enthusiasm of community members who don’t want to pay six or even seven-figure license fees, who want the freedom to integrate, customize, and control their software, and benefit from the knowledge and expertise of a transparent worldwide community. Our progress in 2008 and plans for 2009 illustrate that we are on our way!