Petroleum User Group (PUG) 2008 Day 1 morning

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Where are the Users?
While I worked on a project for EIA a few years ago, I can’t really say I’m a petroleum user. OK, I used way too much petroleum driving here in my gas guzzling truck. (My excuse: I work from a home office and rarely drive my truck except to haul soil so my wife can grow vegetables.)

“Adding technology to a bad process only adds speed to a very bad process”.
Jim Geringer, former Gov. of Wyoming, now with ESRI, at FedUC in Washington DC.

Everyone here at the PUG is very focused on adding speed to oil exploration and production. Everyone knows having all our economic processes rely on cheap petroleum is a bad idea. It’s not our job to worry about peak oil though – someone in Washington should be figuring that one out.

Enough politics, here’s the beef.

There are over 1700 people registered for the PUG, up from 1200 or so from last year. This is probably the 6th PUG I’ve attended. The first was back in 1991, the last was in 2006. Each time there seem to be fewer actual end users (geologists, geophysicists, etc.) and more IT people. By show of hands it looks like more than half were first time attendees. I’d bet the proportion of new attendees that are actual end users is smaller than with the group as a whole.

Clint Brown started things off saying the meeting is “all about you, the user”. Then mentioned how 9.3 is focused on quality, and, without mentioning Google said 9.4 will focus on faster display in ArcGIS Server and ease of use. I admit, before I drove in I avoided ESRI’s link offering map and directions, and instead opted to go first to the hotel’s web page, where they use Virtual Earth.

While there may not be many users here, there is a lot of talk about users. Once upon a time presenters would say “I did this” or “I did that”. This year I hear a lot of “our users would like to do X”, or “users just want Y”. The end users who are here that I spoke with seem to be overwhelmed by all the IT discussions. Unfortunately, John Calkins was not here today. I always liked his keen understanding of the users perspective.

OpenSpirit did a good demo showing how one can drag and drop data from other apps into ArcGIS Explorer, and how their custom task can “broadcast” messages to other apps on the desktop.

Job Tracking
I always thought JTX stood for Job Tracking Extension, but it is not an extension – it is a stand alone application. Rob Brooks and Kim Kearns showed a good demo how JTX provides something like a modelbuilder UI to workflow allowing analysis of High Consequence Areas surrounding gas pipelines. I wish more people were analyzing the consequences for relying on petroleum to begin with. Sorry, no more politics, I promise. I suspect JTX uses Windows Workflow Foundation, so I wonder how hard it would be to roll your own versus buying JTX.

9.3 Notes
None of the other EDN subscribers have received their beta disks yet either, so I’m not the only one wondering how ESRI is going to meet a May ship date for 9.3. Anyway, when it does come I won’t be able to blog about it, but until that happens, I suppose I can. It will have much better support for KML display, including regionated kml. Automated crash reporting will provide quicker turnaround for bug fixes. If you ‘ve ever waited for a support request to make it through the queue, you realize this is a big improvement. Clint says a lot of attention has been put into “re-architecting” OGC compliance.

Dal Hunter went through an Author, Serve and Use demo, then later a Sharepoint demo. More details on that later.


3 comments so far

  1. Jim Zack on


    Thanks for the update on PUG2008.

    You wrote “Everyone knows having all our economic processes rely on cheap petroleum is a bad idea. It’s not our job to worry about peak oil though – someone in Washington should be figuring that one out.”

    This is the kind of tongue-in-cheek humor that used to get me thru those days we shared in the Mother Country and the Hinterlands. Peak Everything is an issue that is becoming grassroots -oriented as action is often bottom-up rather than top-down. Centralized systems lack the robustness, resilience, and creativity that are characteristics of rhizomal structures. For great insight on this, see Jeff Vail’s blog and website: (A Theory of Power is a short, groundbreaking thesis)

    Also, I write a lot on Relocalization Strategy here:

    Glad to hear your wife is gardening. I’ve been bio-intensive gardening for three years now and haven’t had to buy a jalapeno pepper in a long while (I give mine away in the neighborhood here).

    We’ve come a long, long way since Operation Database, haven’t we?

  2. rob on

    can you let us all know when you do get your 9.3 beta software?

  3. Kirk Kuykendall on

    Hi Rob –
    Just got the software.


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