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201801 Versioned API

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Return to Jan 2018 Proposals

Track Name

Versioned API

Orientation Materials

Orientation Slides

Versioned API Orientation with Grahame Grieve

Submitting WG/Project/Implementer Group



Interest is growing in how to manage cross-version use of the FHIR API. This connectathon stream tests out 2 aspects of cross-version use of the FHIR API:

  • a single end-point that supports more than one version (Scenarios #1 and #2)
  • how to handle changes a resource between versions (Scenarios #3 and #4)

Proposed Track Lead

Grahame Grieve (Connectathon_Track_Lead_Responsibilities)

Expected participants

  • Grahame Grieve (server + client)
  • Cerner (server)


Server: provides the FHIR API Client: use the FHIR API


The versioning track is divided into 4 scenarios. Scenarios 1 and 2 deal with API differences, and scenarios 3 and 4 deal with managing content differences between FHIR versions.

  1. Specifying the FHIR version using a content type parameter
  2. Asking the server which versions it supports
  3. Explicit Version conversion
  4. Implicit Version conversion

In theory, the techniques for this stream apply to all resources. However, for simplicity, the stream will focus on searching, reading and writing Patient resources. Servers that do not support read/write on patient resources may still participate.

Scenario #1: Specifying Server Version


Client makes a request of the server for e.g. GET [base]/Patient/example, with the Accept: header containing a standard FHIR content type as negotiated with the server, but also containing the content type parameter

 Accept: application/fhir+json;fhir-version=X

where X is the formal release (`r2`,`r3`, or `r4` for the current build at this time) (alternately X could be a semantic version number `1.0`, `1.6` or `3.0`. The patch level on the version number is probably not necessary) Note that a list of acceptable versions can be supplied, and the first one matched by the server should be replied with. The server would specify which on in the `Content-Type` reply header.


Success Criteria: The server returns a patient resource for the nominated version of FHIR, or an error if it is not supported.


  • search is required to work correctly for the nominated version of FHIR, and that the careProvider search parameter was renamed. Note also the content of the code set changed
  • for this scenario the server is not required to ensure that the R2/R3/R4 versions of the resource are synchronised (see scenario #3 below)

Scenario #2: Server Version discovery


Client makes the request GET [base]/$versions

Server returns a parameters resource containing one or more version parameters, one for each version supported. The possible versions are (at this time: r2, r3, r4).

--Alexander Henket (talk) 12:40, 21 February 2018 (EST) Examples?

       "resourceType": "Parameters",
       "parameter": [
               "name": "version",
               "valueString": "r2"
               "name": "version",
               "valueString": "r3"
   <Parameters xmlns="">
           <name value="version"/>
           <valueString value="r2"/>
           <name value="version"/>
           <valueString value="r3"/>


  • Success Criteria: server returns correct list
  • Bonus: if the client request is plain json (not FHIR json) then the server returns a simple json containing a versions array
   "versions": ["r2", "r3"]

--Alexander Henket (talk) 12:16, 21 February 2018 (EST) Q: for Accept XML I'd like to return XML. E.g.


If we go for semver versions, something like <1.0/> would become awkward and /versions/version is easier to work with than /versions/*/local-name()

Scenario #3: Explicit Version Conversion


Client posts/puts Patient resource to the server using one version, and [it or another client] reads it as another version. The semantics of the resource must be updated properly

This uses the server to do version conversion of a resource. Note that (for now?) this is 2 calls; we are not testing an inline version conversion operation


  • Precondition: server claims to support both versions
  • Success Criteria: server can convert


  • this scenario is the actual expectation for multi-versioned API: the URL identifies a single resource
  • it's up to the server how it performs the conversion in the backgroudn

Scenario #4: Implicit Version Conversion


Client posts/puts Patient resource of one version to the server but claims it is another version.


  • Success Criteria: Server reads what it can following version compatibility rules, or returns an error if the differences are not consistent with the versioning rules


  • This stream needs to test more than just Patient - Patient doesn't have enough changes


The supporting TestScripts have been committed to the FHIR documents Github repository at:

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