Working on Petrochem.net was my initiation to the Internet
in 1997. My first programming assignment was to write the “Become a New Member”
using perl and oracle. The program included edits checks for various input
fields. Failed fields were highlighted in red along with an error message next
to the field. Upon passing the edit check the perl program commits the
information to the oracle database then signs up the new member to an array of
trial subscriptions and then emails the member a welcome letter which includes
their user name and password. Besides being my first web project, it was also
very interesting in that part of the specification required that a member could
only be login once per session. I accomplished the task by storing a
username/checksum combination in oracle and comparing these values with the
ones I push in the browsers non-persistant cookies.
The second assignment was to write an overnight program that cancels outdated subscriptions on the site. Although this seems to be a non-trivial assignment, it was quite involved, since the underling architecture was a canned application developed by Netscape. After familiarizing myself with the oracle database, I was able to compose a query of the necessary data and incorporate the Netscape API toolset to accomplish the task. Part of the specifications for this assignment included email notifications to the member about the canceled subscriptions and those members with subscriptions ending in 15 days.
The next 2 projects for the site have since been removed but included wrapping another’s venders site within the Petrochem.net frame set and creating an online “Petrochemical” who’s who list using perl and oracle.
One of the more interesting projects I worked on Petrochem.net was to add 6 new products from one of our vendors. The data was retrieved from a dial in modem to the vendor and then formatting the data into HTML for our site. It was interesting in working with a modem under a Solaris operating system along with understanding the vendors system then simulating input to the this system and interrupting the output via a perl program. I also circumvented the Netscape Publishing Architecture and stored the HTML documents in a separate file system then wrote my own access routines in perl/oracle. I did use the operating system to its fullest by repackaging grep and calling it search.
There have been many other venders that have come and gone from our site. Another channel partner wanted to offer their database, written in Microsoft Access on Petrochem.net. The interface to the vendor’s product was via a socket interface. We would pull an HTML interface from a customized java program, written by the vender, and display it on Petorchem.net. The user would request a “query” and the vendor wound send us the data along with a price. From there Petrochem.net would do all the interfacing with the member collecting payment for the report and displaying the data.