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Another Bit of Personal/Professional History

This time, the ‘CoalCraft’ System, circa 1999~2001.

I built this while working for the now-disbanded DSTC, alongside my colleage and good friend Dennis Remmer. We both continued our involvement after leaving DSTC (I set up Transentia and Dennis established eTwo; “expertise for an advanced internet”)

CoalCraft is a modern distributed system that brings together providers of information of various resources (such as Coal Producers, Power Stations, Transport Schedulers, etc.) through a “brokering” service, to an arbitrary number of users. Information providers are able to maintain their own repository in its native format and provide a window into it by registering with a provider “map.” Information users are able to access real-time information for analysis without requiring significant local system resources for data storage.

The following should give you an idea regarding how it was constructed and promoted:

CoalCraft has been constructed to be platform independent and is implemented in pure Java:
* CoalCraft’s Object-Oriented construction makes it easily extensible and flexible.
* CoalCraft uses Java’s Remote Method Invocation (RMI) system as the underlying distribution mechanism allowing Object-Oriented communication. This provides ease of development and makes it easy to ‘plug’ Providers into the system.
* The CoalCraft client application is constructed using Java’s second-generation ‘Swing’ Graphical User Interface components and this allows for a sophisticated user interface.
* The CoalCraft client application exports data in XML, the upcoming standard format for data interchange. This keeps the system open and allows further processing of data obtained via the CoalCraft system to be carried out with ease.

Here’s the obligatory piccy:

During the early 2000s, we schlepped the system around to various potential users (assisting the client) and even ran a small ‘live’ trial with some interested parties but in the end it didn’t get anywhere (I think we needed a better spruiker and a bit more $$$ for P.R. than was available).

Still, it was “leading-edge” at the time and the client asked me to assist in preparing a patent application, which was a new thing for me so I guess it deserves a small footnote in history…such as the one just here.


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