Versioning of archetypes: Minor or major changes?

Bakke, Silje Ljosland silje.ljosland.bakke at
Thu Nov 16 05:07:27 EST 2017

Another crosspost between the Clinical and the Implementers lists.

In versioning archetypes, we've defaulted to SemVer's three version levels MAJOR.MINOR.PATCH. When discussing with DIPS what should be considered MINOR or MAJOR changes, we've come to the preliminary conclusion that many more changes than we previously thought may require a MAJOR version change. This is exemplified below mostly with exchange of information between systems, but may also be relevant within a system when adding new functionality with a newer version of the same archetype.

These are as follows:

  1.  Adding non-mandatory elements (ie elements with occurrences 0..*): Depending on the validation mechanism at the receiving end, a system with an earlier version of the archetype that receives a message or payload with an element it doesn't recognise may reject the message or just ignore the new element.
  2.  Adding values to an internal value set:
     *   If adding the value Z to a value set that was originally "X, Y, Other", you're modifying the value of "Other", which previously would include Z. Semantically this is a major change, even if technically it's a minor one.
     *   If sending data to a system that has an earlier version of the archetype, the new value will not be understood.
  3.  Adding a run time name constraint: A run time name constraint has its own AT code, which could confuse a receiving system if it receives a code it doesn't know about.
  4.  All changes in cardinality or occurrences that opens up the archetype's constraints, such as making a previously mandatory element optional, or making a previously single occurrence element multiple occurrence. Not receiving an element you thought was mandatory or receiving more instances of an element than you thought possible, can make a receiving system's validation mechanism protest.


Kind regards,
Silje Ljosland Bakke

Information Architect, RN
Coordinator, National Editorial Board for Archetypes
Nasjonal IKT HF, Norway
Tel. +47 40203298
Web:<> / Twitter: @arketyper_no<>

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