Navigation and Layout


Let's get oriented. The basic user interface for OpenVPMS looks like this:

There's a lot going on here. Let's step through each element.

Main Menu / Sections

In this top area, you'll be able to see all the primary sections of the system. You may not see all of them. Each of these sections houses a different type of functionality of the system. Here's brief list of what each section contains. (Note: This list is not remotely exhaustive!)

  • Customers: Billing, account information, basic contact information, etc.
  • Patients: Basic patient information, medical records, reminders, etc.
  • Supplier: Suppliers and their contact information
  • Workflow: Scheduling, task lists, messaging, investigations
  • Products: The full product catalog, and configuration
  • Reporting: Till balancing, financial reports, patient reports, reminder printing
  • Administration: System setup
  • Help: Help

You'll come to understand what is in each of these through usage of the system. You're encouraged to click through each one, and explore what information you can find in that section.


Each section has its own list of subsections. These are different in each section you go to. We won't enumerate all of them here, but will discuss elements in each of these submenus throughout the rest of the handbook.

enlightenedTip: You can always tell where you are (main and submenu) by looking at the blue lettering at the top of the page. It's labeled "Current Selection" in the screenshot above.

Current Customer

To the left of the screen, the current customer and patient information is displayed. The most useful information about customers and patients is displayed here. This is to accelerate your workflow. It's not convenient to have to dig deeper into the customer and patient records to find basic information. You'll find information here such as:

  • Contact information
  • Alerts and warnings about the customer or patient
  • Current balance
  • Age, weight, breed

Other Elements

There are other elements on the main screen that aren't highlighted in the screenshot above. See if you can find them! Each of these has a useful function in the system.


There are numerous ways to navigate the system. In order to master navigation, it's necessary to have an urderstanding of the basic modalities that are used in the system.

Action Buttons

Any of the large buttons, that are green rectangles in the screenshot above, perform a meaningful action in the system. You will find many of these throughout the system. Action buttons can have many meanings from deleting information, to finding or printing information.

These buttons are generally located at the bottom of a screen or pop-up window. When they are at the bottom of the window, remember that they apply to everything in that window.  For instance, if I click an "Edit" button, it will then edit the entire record that is current displayed. Go ahead and try it!


Sometimes action buttons are not at the bottom of the screen. In this case, they are usually representing a list. The screenshot above has two big action buttons on the screen. Can you find them?

The reason the "Select" button is at the top is because it's controlling a list that is about to be displayed on the screen. You'll find this type of button throughout. Look for it in these areas:

  • Patient lists for customers
  • Invoice items
  • Reports
  • Product lists

You'll find that adding records to a list happens in two different ways. For larger things (top level data like customers and patients), there will be an action button ("New") at the bottom of the screen. For smaller items (like invoice items) you may find an "Add" button at the top of the list.

enlightenedTip: When editing lists, the current editing window counts as an item of the list. Go ahead and try it!


For those that are inclined to be as efficient as they can, keyboard shortcuts are available. Anywhere that you see an underlined letter, you can hold down "Alt", and hit that letter (or number). This will have the same effect as clicking on it.

A second shortcut is the blue underlined items. These are hyperlinks. They will generally jump you to another section in the system. You'll find them almost everywhere throughout the system. It's part of what makes getting around very easy.

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