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Installing your first FHIR server with Firely Server

In 2020 I joined Firely as the Product Owner for Firely Server (Vonk at that time). One of the first things I did was to download and install Firely Server onto my laptop. I was surprised to see how easy it was to get it running, especially with the help of some really good documentation. Now I have to admit I’ve been a software developer for 20 years, so maybe I’m not really a representative user. But then again, in the case of Firely Server maybe I am. 😊

Regardless of your technical background, this blog post will hopefully show you that it is indeed really simple. I will guide you through all the steps: from downloading our FHIR server to firing it up for the first time!

0. Setting the stage

First, let’s set the stage. All of the steps described below can also be found in greater detail in the documentation. The goal of this blog post however is to show you the minimal steps you need to take to get a FHIR server up and running on your PC. Throughout this post you will find links to the documentation. You can follow these links if you want more information on a specific topic, but you don’t need to do so to complete the steps described in this post.

Firely Server can run on your PC, your own server or in the cloud. It can run on Windows, OSX and Linux and has a number of deployment options including Docker. In this post we’ll install it on your own PC running Windows.

1. Obtaining a license key

Both Firely Server and its license file can be obtained from Simplifier.net. Therefore, click on the following URL to open the Firely Server page on Simplifier.net:

https://simplifier.net/firely-server

The first step to install our FHIR Server.
The first step in installing Firely Server

Here you see a button Start installing Firely Server. Click on it to proceed to the download page. You need to be logged into Simplifier to do this. If that is not the case you will be shown a login screen that also allows you to create a new, free account on Simplifier. Once logged in you will see the screen below.

Obtain a license key and download our FHIR server.
Here you can obtain a license key and download Firely Server

For obtaining a license key we’ll focus on Step 1. Download license key. Here you need to fill in the name of your organization, your nationality and select the desired license type. For this blog post you can choose either an evaluation or community edition license:

  • With the community license you can only use Firely Server with SQLite. For the purpose of this blog post this is the preferred option since it requires no additional configuration. It has the added benefit that the license is valid for a full year.
  • The evaluation license allows you to use Firely Server with a MS SQL Server or MongoDB database. This does require additional configuration. Furthermore Firely Server will have a limited uptime of 12 hours and the license will expire after 7 days. However you can renew it as often as you like using the same evaluation option.

Once all information is filled in click on Download key and a license file named vonk-license.json will be downloaded to your computer.

2. Downloading Firely Server

Once you have the license file you can download Firely Server. Underneath Step 2. Start installing, Firely Server Binaries click Download. A download of the file firely-server-latest.zip will start.

Select the Firely Server binaries to download.
Selecting the Firely Server binaries for download

3. Installing Firely Server

Create a folder on your computer where you want to install Firely Server, such as for example:

C:\Firely-Server\4.0.0

Now extract the contents of firely-server-latest.zip to this folder.

The contents of your local Firely Server folder after extracting the downloaded binaries

Copy the vonk-license.json license file from step 1 into the root of the Firely Server installation folder, e.g.

C:\Firely-Server\4.0.0\vonk-license.json

Now create a file in the same folder named appsettings.json. This file will be used to store any custom configuration settings you want to apply. Open the newly created file and copy and paste the text below:

{ 
  "License": {
    "LicenseFile": "vonk-license.json"   
  }
}

Save and close appsettings.json.

4. Starting Firely Server

In your Firely Server folder, there is a file named Firely.Server.exe, e.g.

C:\Firely-Server\4.0.0\Firely.Server.exe

Double click on this file to start Firely Server. You might get some security warnings that you can safely ignore. A command prompt will open and show the Firely Server log messages.

If you did not change the default configuration you are automatically using SQLite as administration database and the conformance resources for STU3 and R4 are preinstalled. If you did change the configuration in order to use either SQL Server or MongoDB as administration database, the first time you start up may take some time because the conformance resources need to be loaded first.

Now open up a web browser and navigate to http://localhost:4080/. You should see a page similar to the one below:

The start page
The Firely Server start page

Congratulations! You have now successfully installed Firely Server.

5. Wrapping up

We hope this step-by-step explanation helped you get Firely Server started in the smoothest way possible. Feel free to reach out if you have any comments or feedback.

Now that you have Firely Server up and running it’s time to start interacting with it. And that just happens to be the topic of my next blog post called Your first interactions with your FHIR server.

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