OpenSpirit 2005 user meet, Houston

OpenSpirit appears to be gathering momentum even if it is some way from Dan Piette’s vision of a copy on every geoscientist’s workstation. The ‘next generation framework’ heralds a new ‘extensibility’ paradigm that will expose third party data models. The current version received enthusiastic support from users in SMT, Transform Software and T2B specialist PointCross.

Around 40 attended the OpenSpirit (OS) user group meeting held just after the SEG Convention in Houston last month. OS CEO Dan Piette opened the proceedings commenting that ‘the boom times of the early 1980s are back.’ OS is doing well too—with more clients, more licenses, more data stores and more soft companies writing to the OS API. Piette described this as a ‘virtuous cycle’ or ‘tipping point’ in OS’ fortunes. The company now has 31 employees and is working on new technologies, with new partners. Moreover the major companies are planning to use OS more extensively, meeting Piette’s dream of ubiquity—’I want to be on every geoscientist’s desktop.’ The potential fly in the ointment for Piette’s dream was the absence of a Landmark rep at the conference which we take as a certain distancing of Landmark from the Schlumberger-sponsored initiative.


OS CTO Clay Harter traced new developments in 2005 and outlined plans for the upcoming 2.9 release. In 2005 OS added six new dev kit customers and added five staff developers. The website has been revamped and now contains details of commercial data store connections and table maps. A discussion forum for developers has also been added. SGI’s Irix operating system was described as ‘in decline’ and support may not last long. Since last year, OS has added new (beta) connectors for Petra, PPDM & SDE Culture. Upcoming data objects include a stratigraphic grid, platform, trajectory, drill string, BHA and tubulars. Currently supported datastores are OpenWorks, GeoFrame, Finder, SMT Kingdom Suite, OS’ own ‘Managed SEGY’ and GoCad. Data synchronization now works across applications such that a change in OpenWorks can update GeoFrame. Users can for instance update geostatistics following a repick of tops in another application. Georegistered TIFF/GRID can now be generated from any seis horizon or grid and output to tools such as ESRI’s Spatial Analyst. ‘Point layers’ (irregular grids of well tops) can also be generated.


OS sells two thirds of its run time licenses to 3rd party vendors so it is unclear whether OS is primarily used by end users or by data managers. Harter observed that some companies believe that geoscientists shouldn’t touch data. Others think they work faster if they do. Harter guessed that licenses were split 50/50 between users and data managers. This was not borne out in a straw poll that found all present to be data managers!

Next generation

The ‘next generation’ V3.0 OS will expand data coverage in the subsurface to include reservoir engineering, production engineering and drilling. V3 Design goals will initially address the infrastructure (not desktop) with performance enhancements, easier installation and improved ease of use for developers. The next generation framework (NGF) will offer services for events, units of measure, coordinate reference systems, data access and reference values. A ‘meta model’ will provide information on data models in use and will allow for customization of the OS framework. OS recognizes that no single ‘common’ model will ever fit all use cases. So the new technology will allow OS users to see, for instance, the full OpenWorks data model and connect to specific data elements therein.


Murray Roth described how startup Transform Software has leveraged OS to provide its seismic interpretation technology with access to multi-vendor databases, managing multiple data types, units of measure and CRSs. Transform offers users access to many data types including culture, seismic, image files etc. This involves managing time and depth domain data on a variety of datums. Users can drag time seismic data over a depth model and it is converted on the fly. Transform is pleased with OS functionality. Data is stored wherever the customer has it already. The API is ‘cleaner than most.’ Transform was less keen on OS’ fee structure—and would have preferred a shift to a run time fee, shifting the cost to the customer. Transform ‘whined and whined, but ended up writing a check.’


Bob Tucker (SMT) was equally enthusiastic regarding OS. The OS tools enabled a fast-track data inventory of the client’s terabytes of data. SMT reported ‘huge productivity gains’ from OS—along with a high end PC configuration and improved IT resources. Visual data QC leveraged OS GIS and 3D data viewers. Data was exported with the Excel adaptor for macros processing and further QC.


Suresh Madhavan’s presented Pointcross’ Orchestra and its Integrated E&P Solutions framework as an ‘ontology engine’ and ‘knowledge infrastructure.’ The purple prose of Point Cross’ marketing material does much to hide the content of this MIS integrator’s offerings. The promise from the ‘Oil Company in a box’ is ‘business transformation’ and ‘agility and competitiveness in the face of ever-tightening access to untapped hydrocarbon resources’ etc. PointCross’ web-based business to technical (B2T) offering uses XML-tagged OS data to link across business processes. A ‘business process modeling tool’ allows for interaction with G&G applications via event tracking. Shell is PointCross’ flagship client.


Don Robinson (Resolve Geosciences) is working to extend OS’ ‘managed XML’ seismic data format with tags to build a ‘full strength’ XML format for data transfer. Robinson wants processing contractors to deliver data in this format for quality assured data archiving. Robinson expressed the opinion that SEG-Y Rev 1 ‘isn’t an answer to anything!’ Rev 1 requires software to be modified and ‘this won’t happen.’ Also there is ‘no more chance of fields being filled-in than with previous header info.’ But the biggest issue with SEG-Y Rev 1 is that it invalidates millions of Canadian datasets which already use several of the overloaded fields. EnCana has prepared a detailed analysis comparing SEG-Y, Rev 1 with Canadian practice.

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