AS: What is your background and how did you get involved with making homeopathy software?
VP: I come from Slovakia. I am the author of OpenRep FREE and the Repertorium Publicum projects. My first contacts with homeopathy were very fascinating. I was frustrated with the inability of allopathy to produce a real cure and I started looking for an alternative. After reading the case reports of homeopathically treated patients I was in awe of the capabilities of this healing system. I became very enthusiastic about homeopathy and about making it more accessible to the public. Being a computer programmer, I started working in a company producing homeopathic software, but I was unhappy with the profit-oriented decision making. My aspiration was to promote homeopathy and not to produce just another commercial software. I decided to take a big step and to create the first open source homeopathic software. I wanted to give everyone a chance to use homeopathy, without having to spend a lot of money for books or software. I hope that with the help of the community that has formed around the project, every new version will be more useful and will be closer to my goal… “to make homeopathy accessible to everyone”.
AS: Was there some moment when you first realized homeopathy worked? Did you succeed using homeopathy?
VP: The strongest impulse behind my studying homeopathy was the possibility of helping others. I felt a lot of hopelessness when seeing the effects of allopathic treatments and the hopelessness of allopathic patients. I had seen how under allopathic treatment, small problems got much worse, and I had seen people around me suffering from all sorts of chronic diseases. Discovering homeopathy was like suddenly gaining hope, like seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. When I read the Organon, suddenly everything started to make sense and the formerly mysterious diseases, conditions and syndromes became very different. They were no longer complicated and mysterious. As seen through the eyes of homeopathic philosophy, they became individual patients with their specific conditions, that could be helped without any complications.
I guess the first true realization that homeopathy works, came with a couple of cases where I saw how efficiently it works. I still remember the case that convinced me that homeopathy was indeed the way. It was a chronic case where the patient was already scheduled for surgery. I explained to him that I could not guarantee he could avoid surgery, but that I would do my best to help him. I gave him 1 dose of a 30C remedy and in a week during the pre-operative diagnosis, the doctors could not believe their eyes. Suddenly there was nothing to operate on. Moments like this justify all the effort in studying homeopathy.
I would like to say, that I am very successful in prescribing remedies, but the fact is, that I still consider myself to be a student of homeopathy. There are still many remedies I am not very familiar with and although I study homeopathy quite intensely, I find that nothing really beats seeing many patients and going through a lot of mistakes and frustration to gain experience. So, I am studying and at the same time
doing my best to help people when they need it.
AS: What was it like trying to convert that much information into a computer program? It seems like a huge task. Did you get suggestions along the way on how to improve it?
VP: I started the OpenRep FREE project 6 months ago and working on it was for me, a passion. In the early stages I usually spent 13 – 14 hours a day working only on OpenRep. Programming and converting data to the repertory structures took hundreds of hours, but for me it was a passion, so it did not feel like work. Everything that I have designed, including the code of the program and the database models of repertories, was designed so that it could be easily understood by anyone, and that anyone could take the repertories and chunks of code and e.g. build their own homeopathic software.
The license used in OpenRep allows anyone to take any parts of code or data and to use them in their programs, providing that the resulting program will adhere to the same open source license. I find that open source is a beautiful concept based on the free exchange of ideas, and I will be more than happy to provide help to all developers who would like to develop other open source homeopathic software.
OpenRep has gone a long way and I’ve tried to implement as many user suggestions as possible. This was especially true in the Patient Management System (PMS). It is the part of the program into which I have put a lot of effort, because I wanted to make sure that the resulting system would be exactly as the users wanted it. I received a lot of e-mails and suggestions on the forum on how to make it better, and although it took a lot of time, I think the PMS in the latest version is very useful.
4. Can you describe the repertory at this moment? What books does it contain and what are its capabilities?
VP: OpenRep FREE is the first open source homeopathic software that is developed to work under multiple operating systems. It features 7 homeopathic repertories, including Kent’s and Boenninghausen’s, and it has been designed to fully integrate all the repertories into one package. The Patient Management System allows the users to have a database of their patients and to record diagnoses and prescriptions. It has been optimized to allow seamless repertorizations and very simple, efficient and user-friendly operation.
5. The program also contains Robert’s “Sensations As If” and Bach Flower Remedies! Where do people go to download the program and how can they learn to use it?
VP: The official website of OpenRep project is: www.homeopathyonline.org . Here you can find all the latest updates of OpenRep FREE, all the repertories, a growing collection of free books, and two tutorial videos. The latest version of OpenRep FREE is currently 2.1, that contains a lot of new optimizations and bug fixes. Currently my main focus is on debugging and optimizing, so that OpenRep is as fast and as reliable as possible. The new features are currently on-hold, until the debugging and optimizing is finished.
AS: How have you managed to fund this project?
Although OpenRep is a free project, it does not mean that developing and running it does not require any financial resources. Unfortunately developing OpenRep and adding new content sometimes requires money that I hoped would come only from donations. I am very grateful to everyone who has donated money to the OpenRep project and as a gesture of thanks I have decided to provide additional repertories to anyone donating 10 EURO or more. For every donated 10 EURO, the donor can select an additional repertory from my selection, which currently consists of:
12 Tissue Salts Repertory
Regional Leaders by Nash
Synoptic Key by Boger
Relationship of Remedies by Miller
Repertory by Oskar Boericke
If a donor donates 40 EUR or more, he will of course receive all the repertories. I am planning to add some smaller repertories in the future to make the option of donating money even more interesting.
AS: How has feedback influenced the project.
VP: I am very thankful to any feedback from the users of OpenRep, because it allows me to see what people want. My goal is to produce a software that will be useful to as many people as possible. I am especially thankful to constructive criticism, as can be seen in the homeopathyonline forum. People have made very valuable comments about OpenRep and requested functionality that was not planned before.
AS: Is there a chance of the program being translated to other languages?
VP: Some time ago I announced that I would produce a version that could be translated into different languages. I have received some offers from users willing to translate OpenRep into other languages. However, due to unexpected difficulties with Java fonts, I have currently put the translation project on hold and will return to it once the debugging and optimizing phase is over. I am hoping to produce language packs for my users from India and Pakistan and also a German language pack. As for other languages, if people will be willing to translate the specified language pack, it is possible to produce translations very quickly and into any language that is supported by Java fonts.
AS: I discovered your program a couple months ago and it’s been enormously helpful in my work. It’s comprehensive and so user friendly, that I was able to start using it immediately. The new video tutorials showed even more possibilities. There’s a function which allows people to add rubrics and their corresponding remedies to the repertory. That way the whole community can contribute to the growth of this project.
I want to thank you Vladimir, for creating this excellent project and the spirit in which you did it. It will help many people to further their study and practice.
VP: I hope that OpenRep will be indeed useful to the homeopathic community and that in time it will cause people to realize the potential of homeopathy, and will make it easier to study and try homeopathy.
Vladimir Polony was born in Slovakia in 1978. He graduated from Matej Bell University with a masters degree in economics. He is the author of:
Slovak translation of Kent’s Homeopathic Repertory (together with a team of colleagues), Slovak translation of Boenninghausen’s repertory, OpenRep FREE, Repertorium Publicum (work in progress), Short Repertory of Bach Flower Remedies, A Guide to Bach Flower Remedies, Repertory of Remedy Relations (work in progress).
Visit Vladimir Polony at his website: www.homeopathyonline.org