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De-blue MessageCommunicationsControl

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MessageCommunicationsControl subject area

The MessageCommunicationsControl subject area of the RIM (informally known as the blue classes or the bottom half of the RIM), supports transmission oriented functions which allow Interactions (e.g. Messages, Batches) to be exchanged. See HL7 Messaging Architecture.


Question: Why are the blue classes blue?

As for the original reason to create these classes when the RIM was initially developed:

  • It was not felt to be part of the 'shared, cross-domain semantics that the RIM was designed to represent.' Rather,

it represented a 'resource' of messaging-appropriate semantics (remember, the RIM stared out as an internal document that was only imagined to be referenced by specification developments and never used as an information-model per se. But even in this view, the 'blue' classes were deemed to be on a different plane than the other classes and, at least in some sense, did seem vaguely conceptually similar to Coad's blue classes.). Various ITSs would utilize various aspects of the blue classes in implementation-specific ways in contrast to much of the RIM semantics per se, which would, for the most part, be utilized as modeled.

  • At the harmonization meeting where this was decided, one person felt very strongly that the RIM backbone was designed to apply to healthcare-specific portions of the RIM (it was designed with those portions in mind) and that the healthcare-specific portion was what HL7 had the most to offer to the world; several others tended to agree. There were several people who

disagreed and felt the same modeling paradigm should apply throughout the entire model. Plus those portions in what is now called the MessageCommunicationsControl portion of the model were not modeled (at that time) in a similar fashion or with the same level of rigor and review. Plus there were no modeling personnel resources available at the time to enhance that portion of the model.

As for the "blueness" of the classes:

  • It came from a permutation on Peter Coad's "Modeling with UML in Color" (not the correct title -- 'java' is in the title as well) in which blue is for 'catalogue' or 'reference' classes. The other RIM colors are also derivatives of that coloring scheme. 'event' was red (hence Act and its derivative ActRelationship), Role was yellow, and Party (our Entity)

was green. Coad didn't have the notion of Participation so we came up with tourquoise and reserved blue for the closest we had to 'catalogue or fixed resource.'


Given various discussions within INM as well as with the SOA SIG some radical changes have to be made to the Transmission Wrappers. Inheretance has recentrly been approved for the blue classes. There is a discussion related to the use of structural attributes in the parameterItem (blue) class.

use, but remove from RIM

Dan Russler (in an e-mail, paraphrasing) suggests not to include the blue classes in the RIM anymore (but to keep on using them)

Replace by RIM classes

Replacing the blue classes by RIM classes is an option. This adds some abstraction (structural attributes) which will show at the XML level. Given that Document and Application etc. already are RIM classes a mapping is feasable.

  • Message is an act,there is a participation/role/entity for for CommunicationFunction
  • Attachment is just message.txt
  • There is an ActRelationship for Acknowledgement to another message or transmission
  • Batch has an ActRelationship to batches or messages.
  • Acknowledgement detail is another act relationship/act?
  • So is AttentionLine?
  • QueryByParameter is the act of querying. ParameterList is some kind of collection Act.
  • ParameterItem is a problem if one attempts to fully model it - it can be any of the 6 base classes or an attribute. Only real options are to either stick with blue for parameter, or to be creative and use a "creative" act (the act of "selecting a subset") which is essentially a key/value pair.