FHIR API definitions will be developed and version controlled in public Git repositories, held on Github. This is used for the day-to-day development of new specifications and changes to existing specifications. This includes both formal FHIR profile resources, and also API implementation guide content assets. Those wishing to contribute towards the development of the API specifications themselves should do so through Github (by raising issues, pull requests, etc.)
All FHIR resources relating to national systems and other nationally defined FHIR API profiles (including StructureDefinitions, ValueSets, OperationDefinitions, ImplementationGuides, etc.), as well as the source for API documentation (using Jekyll) MUST be held on a publicly available Github repository.
Comments, feedback and suggestions from developers on FHIR resources (and associated documentation) SHOULD be managed through Github using the standard features for raising and tracking issues on the site.
Once a specification is ready for wider review/use by implementors (even in early Experimental/Alpha status) it will be published onto the NHS Developer network (and/or the HL7 UK / INTEROPen sites for CareConnect API assets). This will include the publication of FHIR profiles into the appropriate FHIR API reference server and publication of the API implementation guides. Those wishing to implement APIs should refer to these published definitions rather than content held or published directly from Github.
All FHIR resources relating to national systems and other nationally defined FHIR API profiles (including StructureDefinitions, ValueSets, OperationDefinitions, ImplementationGuides, etc.) that are ready for external use (in either DRAFT or ACTIVE status) MUST also be made available the NHS Digital FHIR reference server fhir.nhs.uk.
Resources that are part of Care Connect (under the governance of INTEROPen) MUST also be published on a HL7 UK branded public FHIR server fhir.hl7.org.uk.
All FHIR resources relating to national systems and other nationally defined FHIR API profiles (including StructureDefinitions, ValueSets, OperationDefinitions, ImplementationGuides, etc.) MUST have a URI that is a resolvable URL. Usually this will be the URL of the resource on the FHIR API reference server (fhir.nhs.uk or fhir.hl7.org.uk).
When any FHIR API implementation guides are published (using Jekyll as per FHIR-PUB-01), they MUST have an associated maturity label. These labels are the GDS development process stages, and will be one of:
- Discovery: a Feasibility study. A ‘No code’ development. Designed to find out what users are trying to achieve, any constraints, improvement opportunities
- Alpha: Develop prototypes and test with users. Could be minimal functionality and potentially prototypes for any options to determine which is best
- Private Beta: Working version and test with invited users. Handle real transactions and work at scale. ‘Invite only’ or regional. Must Pass assessment by business and technical SME’s
- Public Beta: All users can participate. Version unlikely to change substantially, but still needs further testing by a wider group of implementors before becoming live
- Live: The live phase is about supporting the service in a sustainable way, and continuing to iterate and make improvements
- Retiring: Implementors notified that the service is discontinued and not to be used for new developments
Previously the NHS Digital process stages were defined as: (not to be used for new developments)
- Experimental: Early development/proof of concept version of an API for early sight during discovery.
Alpha: Initial test APIs, likely to change substantially.
- Typical Usage: Engagement with others interested in being involved with early development work and influencing the direction taken.
Beta: APIs that are still under active development and subject to change
- Typical Usage: Engagement with ‘first of type’ or early adopters by the creation of first of type or pilot systems for testing, proof of concept etc. This development can assist in progression to a release candidate for a wider rollout.
Release Candidate: APIs that are largely complete, unlikely to change substantially, but still need further testing by a wider group of implementers before becoming live.
- Typical Usage: After having been previously implemented by ‘first of type’ or pilot sites and now to be rolled out to a wider group of implementers.
- Live: Release live APIs
- Discontinued: APIs which have been discontinued and should not be used for new development
The GDS and previous process stages map as follows:
|GDS||NHS Digital (previous)|
|Public Beta||Release Candidate|