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Global properties are configuration variables that the user can set through through the Administration menu, without restarting or recompiling the application. They're useful when module code needs to refer to a value that's unique to a particular instalationinstallation, such as a concept ID number or a file path.
From the EHSDI 204 Module Development class slides on OpenMRS tags:
"<openmrs:globalProperty> tag: Used to access global properties, which are name/value pairs stored in the database If var is specified, var becomes attribute with the property value If not, then property value printed to response For example... The global property called "concept.weight" stores the ID of the concept to use for patient weight observations This can set as an attribute called weightConceptId as follows... <openmrs:globalProperty key="concept.weight" var="weightConceptId"/>"