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Friday, January 30, 2015

Thursday and Friday at CAT15

Thursday is when the rubber meets the road.  By Thursday night, you've passed all the easy stuff, but if you are like the people sitting around me, you are trying to make sure that you can get that one last test started.  Because if you don't start it by Thursday to get it into the queue, you'll be dropping that profile (it's a Connectathon policy so that monitors aren't swamped with profile tests that won't be worth checking on Friday).

A lot of new code gets written on Thursday as the key priorities have all been hit, and people are reaching for their stretch goals.

One of the things that is new at Connectathon as of 2015 is the number of people who have finished the hard stuff  already.  Many vendors have already finished their XDS, XCA and ATNA tests.  CDA viewing is pretty much done.  One profile (Family Planning) had all vendors finished with it by Wednesday, including a couple of late adds from the Connectathon floor.

There are two factors I think that have to do with this.  One is that the testing infrastructure is improving year over year, which makes a lot of the testing go quicker.  Gazelle has improved to the point that there have only been a few capacity problems that we experienced over the week.  There is still room for improvement here, and also automating some of the verification processes, but compared to where we were ten years ago, this is monumental change.  The network is no longer spelled with two o's, and even though we had a bobble with a switch at our table, it was readily resolved.

The second change is the vendor community interest in interoperability.  I see a lot of newbies here this year, which would have led me to expect more people struggling.  But there's also a lot of people here who know the ropes who have helped them along.  And the volume of information that is available about how to implement the profiles, and the public domain implementations (many of which have been tested here over several years) also make it a lot easier.

Some folks still tell me that Connectathon won't scale, but in fact it has.  The model has also been adopted by a number of regional projects for preparing for real world implementations (we call these projectathons).  It's like the old concern about the cable network being used for Internet access. Detractors said the cable infrastructure wouldn't scale either, but it certainly appears to have done the job.  Connectathons will continue to be an important interoperability event, simply because there's nothing else like it where you can get so much done in so little time.

What takes weeks in the field, we do in hours here.


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