Frequently Asked Questions

Questions about the project, software, development, subscriptions and costs.
General Questions

General questions about the openvpms project and organisation

Although we are aware of practices utilising the OpenVPMS software, the OpenVPMS organisation does not itself have customers that we can legitimately refer to you.In order to get in contact with any practice that is currently using OpenVPMS I suggest you post to the users list or forum and request if any interested, live practices can arrange a suitable private or public discussion with you about their use of the OpenVPMS product.

The founders of OpenVPMS believe its open source projects could eventually be used as a standard software foundation for the majority of Veterinary software products used globally. Having an industry standard for data storage would serve vets and our industry equally. This imperative has already been realised and is being acted on, in other health industries.

We would eventually like to see the OpenVPMS kernel owned and controlled by an independent industry body rather than OpenVPMS. The founders of OpenVPMS still see themselves taking an active role in this body. Indeed the majority of them will still rely on its products! Our aim is to achieve this transfer of control within a period of 3-5 years.

It is fair to say that the yearly cost of the subscription will be significantly less than purchasing and maintaining most current major practice management software systems. Click here to see up to date Subscription rates

The fundamental differences are:

  • Open VPMS is a not for profit organisation with a simple agenda. Providing reasonable software solutions for its members.
  • You can utilise any service provider you wish for technical or software support.
  • You are free to migrate your information to another software package without restriction.

As we are all aware there is no such thing as a free lunch and open source software is not the same as "free" software. . In order to repay the necessary capital from stakeholders and to deliver and maintain the development program, OpenVPMS needs to generate adequate funds from its activities.

There are a number of business models in the open source area that we looked at. Many open source companies rely on income from consulting fees for providing specific services such as training, support and deployment.

We decided that developers and other companies that will build up around the OpenVPMS products are best to deliver these services. This fosters choice and competition to the industries benefit.

In the end we decided that the simplest and fairest way of achieving our business aims was to have Veterinary Practices pay a regular yearly subscription to OpenVPMS so they can run the software in their practice. See up to date Subscription rates

OpenVPMS is structured as a not-for-profit organisation whose members are comprised of;

  1. Users of its products (eg. Veterinarians using the Open VPMS web application to manage their practices).
  2. Developers utilising the open source code to create other products or add to the existing web application.
  3. Interested parties such as associated industry (e.g. Veterinary pharmaceutical companies, laboratories, microchip registries and wholesalers).

Open VPMS is run by a board of Directors that manage the business from day to day. The Directors are either involved in or have an interest in the veterinary profession and contribute a mixture of vision, expertise, funds and industry knowledge to the overall goals of the Organisation.

There are no shareholders, as all profits can only be used to advance the cause of the organisation and it's members.

OpenVPMS is a not for profit organisation built around the development and supply of open source Veterinary Practice Management Systems. OpenVPMS is owned by its members. A committee populated by members, manages its operation.
OpenVPMS software

Questions and answers about the openVPMS product.

The OpenVPMS Reporting interface is a standardised reporting interface that will allow users, implementors and developers to create and generate reports utilising any information stored in the OpenVPMS backend database.

In the unlikely event of Open VPMS ceasing to exist as an organisation, the software development community will still be able to service and modify your software as there will be ongoing access to the code. This is very different to the proprietary model which would see users potentially stranded without options for support or ongoing development.

The costs of support will be market driven and not under OpenVPMS control. We believe this competitive model will deliver high quality cost effective services to the industry. By directly fostering and providing non-proprietary support to service providers without exclusivity, OpenVPMS intends that the choice of service providers should grow in number. This competition will keep service costs competitive.

Also remember that through the Open VPMS website, a subscriber can access the whole community of users and share problems & solutions this way.

As mentioned above OpenVPMS does not deliver direct support services to end users but will sponsor and contribute heavily to which provides online forums, knowledgebases and FAQ services.

This source of information has grown quickly and become a centralised source of knowledge to all users and developers. We also maintain and foster direct relationships with accredited business partners who can provide specific services to you ranging from training, technical support, system integration and development support. This network will grow quickly again providing you with choice. Obviously these services will incur various charges outside of your annual subscription fee. Again you will have a choice on the partner you wish to deal with based on financial, geographical or other factors.

The OpenVPMS Web Application is a fully functional Veterinary Practice Management System designed to operate in a standard web browser like Internet Explorer and Firefox.

This application will grow in functionality as we and other developers include new functions dictated by the users needs. You can start to see the strength of the open source model emerge here.

Other developers are completely free to extend this software and share these extensions with the other subscribers or to deliver new functionality in their own proprietary applications that utilise the core OpenVPMS Business Framework. The OpenVPMS Web Application will also serve as a reference application to allow other developers to learn how to talk to and program for the OpenVPMS Business Framework.

The OpenVPMS (Veterinary Practice Management Software) Business Framework is a software component that will form the basis of all the software that OpenVPMS delivers. It provides all the core business and database functions that are required by Veterinary Practice Management Systems.

The same core set of functions are utilised by all VPMS systems in one way or another and this software will encapsulate all this in a standardised layer that can be utilised by many independent applications. In technical language this is often called a middle-tier application.

The Business Framework will be delivered using a platform independent language allowing people to install it on any current operating system.
It is designed so any programming languages can use it and is independent of system architecture. This means developers are free to use any development environment or language they feel will deliver their solution.

Administrative user's questions

questions and answers that administrative users may ask

We use jasperreports for any document that has more complex datasets such as invoices, statements, reports etc as these typically have multiple rows of data and require groupings and other data processing functions not available in OpenOffice. Also these are changed rarely except during implementation and typically contributed in the case of Reports.

OpenOffice is used for customer and patient documents. These are more likely to be modified and added by the practice so a standard Word Processor editor is more appropriate for the User.

No strategy to change this at this point.

The app uses Spring's JavaMailSenderImpl class to send emails. If your SMTP server requires authentication, this can be specified in applicationContext.xml:

<bean id="mailSender" class="org.openvpms.web.component.service.MailService" singleton="false">
<property name="username" value="someuser"/>
<property name="password" value="somepassword"/> </bean>

General users questions

Questions that users in a veterinary practice may ask.


You can print directly to a printer if that printer is defined on the server that hosts the web application. You can assign printers to templates and specify these printers by practice location. You can also tell the system not to interact with the printer during printing so will not display print dialogue with option to Print, Preview or Cancel.

The Preview option in the Print dialogue downloads the document to the browser at which point it can be printed.

Open source and Openvpms

Questions about what open source is and it's benefits over proprietary software.

The OpenVPMS business is based on an open source, your choice model. The core database structure will be available for all software developers to incorporate into their Veterinary Management software if so desired.

Because of its inherently stable and upgradeable design it will be a basis for much higher quality software in our industry. This model fosters open availability and contribution to the software by all parties.

By doing this we not only deliver high quality, highly adaptive and industry driven solutions we also provide the user with a choice of service providers who can provide the best service for their needs. This is a key business goal for OpenVPMS.

Current Veterinary Software providers operate on a traditional software model. This model is based on you paying for a license to use the software and for services to maintain and update the software and provide technical support.

This model relies heavily on strict licensing restrictions and no access to the source code. This forces you to rely on, and pay for, services delivered exclusively by the supplier to maintain and update your system. If the supplier cannot or will not deliver appropriate service or requested enhancements often your only choice is to live with it or move to another software provider. The latter option is generally very expensive and often the original supplier will even make it difficult or very expensive to migrate existing information to a newer system.

This is called Vendor lock-in and in small markets dominated by a few large software providers such as the Veterinary market has a tendency to foster poor quality products and service.

OpenVPMS vision is not to be just another Veterinary Software provider but to be a key agent in changing the fundamentals of how the Veterinary Software industry operates.

Pricing and subscriptions

Questions about pricing structure and subscriptions


Hardware requirements centre around having enough memory  - really need 4gb min, otherwise check the other stup guides.  Discussing your requirements with a person who understands what you need to do is best.

OS: Windows most flavours that can run mysql /tomcat, or Linux ie you dont need a specific version but it must be able to run Tomcat/Mysql - People have it working on:-

  • WIndows xp
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Server 2003
  • WIndows Server 2008
  • Windows Vista (I think)
  • Theoretically will work on most windows versions that support java and mysql
  • Ubuntu Server (Linux)
  • MacOS - I think somone has it working on a Mac as well.

Cost of OS: Varies - Linux is free but you may need to pay for support if you need it.

Tomcat: is a freely downloadable web server. All versions Cost : 0

Mysql: the community edition is free and available on the mysql website. Cost : 0

OpenVpms: is downloadable here - Cost if you are just testing it = free, If you intend to use it commercially. Cost is 250 per vet per year for a subscription - which helps fund development costs.

So Total cost for self installation for testing or experimentation: $0.

Once you move to production or commercial use your obliged to buy the (what I consider really cheap) licence.

You dont need a VPN, VMWare,  Thin client, PACS server or any of that, Laboratory intergration etc - to run openvpms - those are all custom installation options that can be setup but are not required.

That being said:- Each persons requirements differ.  Openvpms is extremely flexible.  To some extent the sky is the limit.  Some of what you have asked cannot be covered here, because it applies generally to site setup for any system.  eg Email Setup, Thin Client browser access.

If you are looking for someone to IMPLEMENT Openvpms for you there are a number of options available, these are companies that can provide hardware, configuration, installation, data conversion and training at a cost, which varies.

Its generally preferred commercial implementers dont advertise here.  My advice would be to post an email address requesting commercial implementers contact you to discuss your requirements.



Ben Charlton

This is a key question as it goes to the heart of the vision we have at OpenVPMS.

OpenVPMS will deliver four key products via its open source subscription model. They will form a fully functional veterinary management software package for your business;

  • The OpenVPMS (Veterinary Practice Management Software) Business Framework
  • The OpenVPMS Web Application
  • The OpenVPMS Reporting Interface
  • The OpenVPMS Data Migration Tools

We see the subscription charges being capped at a defined level with no more than CPI increase in any one year. Indeed if our long-term vision is realised it is likely that there will be LOWER subscription fees in the future.

Although there are many technical mechanisms we could use to manage and force users to subscribe to OpenVPMS in the end it must come down to trust in the integrity of Veterinary Practices and their owners. We believe the value of what subscribers receive from their subscription will by far outweigh the subscription cost, encouraging participation.

Subscriptions fees are based on the number of full-time equivalent vets working at the given practice and are paid annually.

For further information visit the subscriptions page.

The change from existing software

About changing from existing software

The OpenVPMS VPMS product will, in the majority of circumstances, have a different look and feel compared to your current software but many of the everyday functions will look familiar.

On this basis users will need to be retrained but due to the intuitive design we believe the retraining process will be quite straight forward.

Some core training material will be available from the OpenVPMS web site and will be enhanced over time by developer and user contributions. Commercial Training services will also be available from accredited service providers.

Yes. You can customise the software.

You are free to contribute to the existing open source products that OpenVPMS provides as part of the subscription or you, or a contracted developer, can develop new proprietary applications that utilise the Open VPMS kernel information.

The only stipulation is any contribution to the OpenVPMS open source projects must remain open source and available to all parties.

No one can give a cast iron guarantee of reliability and quality but we can say that product reliability is one of the guiding principles of all of the OpenVPMS products. This is one of the reasons we have chosen an open source development model as it opens up the source code to continuous external scrutiny and by nature, tends to deliver higher quality and better performing products.

This is a difficult question as it depends on the age and architecture of your current hardware.

The OpenVPMS Server will be best installed on new server hardware, however as it exclusively uses open source software, the cost of the server will be purely hardware and setup costs.

It has been designed for network rather than serial operation, so some Netvet users will need to update some of their older workstations and cabling.

Most of the existing printers will operate as is. Due to the server operating using network rather than serial communications some users may need to purchase print servers for some of their printers (specifically label printers).

Overall the compatibility costs will be significantly lower than an equivalent upgrade to other applications.

If you wish to get a more specific understanding of what hardware your practice will need to upgrade please contact Tony De Keizer from Vertical Connect

As the support for Netvet dwindles, any practice using this software becomes vulnerable to data loss. As anyone who has suffered a hard disk crash or system failure has experienced, the damage to the practice and loss of data can be disastrous and the effects are long felt.

Netvet, whilst having a lifetime that most software products would be envious of, does have limitations in terms of its ability to change and grow in order to meet VPMS requirements into the future. For example, interacting with financial software, direct exchange with silicon chip registries, drug wholesalers and pathology labs, web interaction and heaven forbid, any changes to the tax system!


Questions and answers from and for developers

The open source process has been used widely and the process of selecting, testing and incorporating source code contributions has been well documented and tested. A key component of this process is the formation of a core committee of active developers who will make decisions on what is included, when and why. You could call this committee a benevolent dictatorship but we, and most other open source projects, see this as the only way to manage the development process effectively. Initially the committee will be made up of the initial core developers and OpenVPMS stakeholders. As other developers and industry participants become involved in the project we see this evolving into elected technical steering and management committees involving this group as well as members of the user community.
No. Proprietary and open source developers will not need to pay subscription fees. Everyone who wants access to the source code will need to subscribe to OpenVPMS but developers subscriptions will be at no cost. We believe this is necessary to grow the developer network and encourage the delivery of new applications into the market. Our only stipulation is if a Veterinary Practice utilises an application based on the OpenVPMS open source software that they are a current subscriber. I.e. the onus is on the user of the application to adhere to the license conditions.
The short answer is yes. We see participation of existing software suppliers as an important milestone in our vision of delivering quality, open standards and choice to the market. We also see it as a positive for the software industry as they gain significant cost benefits (designing, development, testing) from the utilisation of core software components developed and tested by the open source community process. A major upside of their involvement will be their ongoing involvement in the development of the OpenVPMS kernel. As the OpenVPMS kernel will always be open source and licensed to ensure that any developments are contributed back to all subscribers, this will be a positive outcome for everyone. We will actively encourage other developers and business' to develop proprietary applications that utilise the OpenVPMS kernel. Our only stipulation will be that any Practice or business that utilises the openVPMS kernel pays their yearly subscription fee.