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MUMPS Development Crew

Awakening MUMPS Standardization
from an Eleven-Year Dormancy

Why Standard MUMPS Matters

Standard MUMPS is the foundation of VISTA. Without it, VISTA's future is a dead end. Standard MUMPS encourages vendor competition and innovation by guaranteeing a market for newcomers, and that in turn encourages portability, fair pricing, and motivated support. Standard MUMPS makes VISTA's portability so good that the "portability" touted by most software vendors does not deserve the word. The portability of standard MUMPS lets VISTA adopters surf the hardware revolution to faster, cheaper, and more powerful systems. And the MUMPS standardization process itself lets VISTA adopters influence the evolution of the language to guarantee it continued to meet their changing needs.

The Past Decade

Authority for MUMPS standardization resided with the MUMPS Development Committee, but the committee was stuck in limbo because its sponsoring organization, the M Technology Association, shut down without moving the MDC to another sponsor, and the VA pulled the MDC's funding, leaving it financially helpless. The most recent MUMPS standard is fifteen years old, and numerous portability features need to be expanded to make room for the growth of standard MUMPS-based systems such as VISTA.

The Sleeper Awakes

The MDC's hibernation is ending. Over the last eight years the chair and vice-chair of the MDC together with some dedicated members have developed a plan to resume the MUMPS standardization process and have consulted with other MDC experts to fine-tune the plan. We are ready, and we have begun.

Building a Better Standardization Process

Even at its peak, the MDC processes were slow, expensive, difficult, and emotionally exhausting. During the MDC's long hibernation, the chair and vice-chair created a new set of processes that keeps the best of the MDC's historic procedures while replacing the rest with procedures designed to make MUMPS standardization faster, cheaper, easier, and more enjoyable, while better steering MUMPS standardization away from the kinds of gratuitous changes that frustrated MUMPS implementors and more firmly toward the smaller number of changes most needed by standard-MUMPS users. Many of the top-priority changes have already been implemented by vendors and just need to be accepted into the standard.

Passing the Torch

Because the MUMPS Development Committee's own bylaws and tangled situation have produced a financial and procedural limbo from which it cannot free itself, the chair and vice-chair are launching a new organization to bear responsibility for MUMPS standardization: the MUMPS Development Crew (MDC), an autonomous work-team within the VISTA Expertise Network that was formally launched January 6, 2010. The officers of the new MDC are also the most recent officers of the old MDC to guarantee a continuity of leadership and to demonstrate that this move represents the will of the MDC leadership. Members of the old MDC and other interested parties are invited to become members of the MDC's advisory council, and anyone with the time and energy to do significant hands-on work can join the core work-team itself.

Stay Tuned

Now that the new MDC has begun to gather and get to work, watch for regular updates and what will soon be a very public presence for the organization and for MUMPS standardization.

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