Our apologies, when HTML is not HTML and what 1999 may bring (December 1998)

PDM’s editor, Neil McNaughton offers somefeeble excuses for the late arrival of this month’s PDM and gives a preview of nextmonth’s Year in Review.

First, our apologies for the late appearance of Petroleum Data Manager. Excuses? Always felt that the more there are, the less they are credible, but here we go. Apart from the usual Christmas and new year festivities, your faithful editor and his spouse celebrated a joint 100th birthday which somewhat reduced our productivity. The PDM on CD-ROM project (see back page of this issue) has also been taking up an inordinate amount of time and produced multiple opportunities for futzing – that particular IT activity whereby the intrinsic interest of a task takes over from any notion of usefulness.

Lets futz again

High on the list of futzing activities was the development of sexy web pages using Microsoft FrontPage. As we later learned, these contain Microsoft-only code which will not run from a CD – so we were back to the drawing board. I do not mind Microsoft’s attempt to dominate the web by offering must-have extensions that you end up wanting to use. But I do object to the way these are generated by FrontPage without any indication that they are NOT standard HTML. Another problem we encountered is the atrocious apology for HTML that emerges from the HTML export from Microsoft Word. We have moaned about Microsoft’s code quality before but the inversion of end and start tags and the dogs-dinner HTML that results is amazing.


All the more so because this is publicly visible code that could be a shop-window for Microsoft’s software engineers. For the PDM on CD-ROM project we ended up hand coding – or rather auto-coding pretty well everything. Because with the amount of material we had to produce, we had to develop some VB routines to map out text files and indexes to HTML. Ended up quite a project. Hope you all will appreciate the results.

Next month in PDM

We are putting together a piece for next month’s PDM which will be a review of 1998 together with some predictions for 1999. I offer here a synopsis of some of the ideas we are working on and I hope that they will stimulate some feedback. If you have any comments, on what was good or bad about 1998 or what will be hot in ‘99 let us know at pdm@the-data-room.com. Our current headline for 1998 is that it was the year of the repackaging of the data model as "business objects" and the appearance of a whole range of business-object based "Frameworks". Despite the undoubted successful marketing of Open Spirit, these are not the only guys on the block. Apart from Landmark and GeoQuest, who both have their own data models (OpenWorks and GeoFrame respectively) and their own Business Object Frameworks (in the form of their respective development kits) – there are a few other contenders – see below. But first, just so that things are quite clear, we offer a slightly iconoclastic table comparing the old way of looking at the world with the new

What it is

What it used to be called

What it is called now

An Oracle database

‘Standard’ Data model

‘Open’ Business objects

C Programming interface to the above.

Application Programming Interface (API)

Business Object Framework

Applying and embellishing the above analysis we offer the following examples of Business Object Frameworks that are currently on offer:


BO Framework











Oilfield Systems




Prism Technology

Open Spirit

Why am I telling you all this? So that you realize that nothing much has changed. While BO’s may bring some gains in terms of interoperability, they will not solve any of the structural problems that you already know all about. Such as data loading issues, data integrity (which will be worse as we ‘learn to live’ with multiple databases), workstation data loading and work-flow in general. So long as you realize that all the new toys are not going to make a whit of difference to the real issues at hand, then go ahead and rush out and buy them. I am of course joking. Nobody will be rushing out and buying anything much in 1999.

Tough times ahead

It would be nice to think that a forced period of defocusing from expenditure on software tools would allow the IT department to get its processes in better shape. Unfortunately a great target for post A&M cost-cutting is the little-guy-doing-a-great-job. So it will be a tough time for everyone and you all will have to fight your corners. Sorry that we can’t offer a cheerier message for the New Year. We wish you all well of course and will try to continue to support all your efforts to "do it right", by trying to "tell it like it is!"

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