Express - but is it the right bus? (October 1997)

POSC made a bold choice in selecting the Express data modeling language to describe E&P data. But doubts have been.... ‘expressed’ regarding this exotic language.

POSC's choice of Express as its data modeling language of choice was a bold decision, made when there wasn't much else in the marketplace. Is it the right language for defining THE industry-wide data model today? There are two sides to this issue, one is the suitability of the language, the other is the take-up of the language. The second issue may not seem too important, but it is. There are many examples of brilliant IT inventions, from ALGOL, through LISP to OCCAM. But is there are not a lot of people using a language, it is expensive to deploy, and may even expire. The paucity of Express related information on the web - nearly all is POSC related looks gloomy in this respect. The Express language was initially used in the Product Data Management (PDM) arena, so it is used to describe the way nuts and bolts are assembled into bits and pieces of a car - can this really help us describe an oilfield?

Early adoption

On the face of it the answer appears to be a qualified "yes" in the POSC/CAESAR environment - i.e. in the construction field where the parts of an offshore platform are pretty much like the parts of an airplane or car. In the upstream POSC area things are not so clear. It is not so much the complexity of the exploration business that is the problem, after all an airplane is pretty complex, but rather the difficulty and even ambiguity in defining the data structures used in E&P. It is arguable that POSC suffers in this domain from being an early adopter of this technology. It does not appear that, POSC apart, Express has found much following outside of the PDM arena. The underlying concept of the logical data model being a stepping stone to a robust implementation has however gained wide acceptance, but the tools used are either more or less generic Computer Aided Software Engineering (CASE) products or add-ons supplied by the database vendor such as Oracle CASE tools.

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