Craig Pennington

 


Present Position

Mr. Pennington is the President of Coherent Systems, Inc., which he founded in 1982.  The company develops on-line database systems using state-of-the-art technology.

Highlights of the company¡¯s projects are:

¡         CoPilotä is an application development toolkit for use on Digital Equipment VAX systems.  Developed during the early 1980¡¯s, it provides a ¡Visual Basic¡ like development environment for VAX users.  Coherent Systems licensed a version of this software which is sold today under the SmartStarä name by B2Systems, inc.

¡         The Patient Tracking System developed for Schick-Shadel Hospitals was used to track calls and follow-up activity for prospective clients of Schick-Shadel¡¯s alcohol and drug treatment programs.

¡         REsearchä is an on-line database system for Realtors in the state of Hawaii.  Using the CoPilotä database system, it provides an especially friendly interface to public record data for all property in the state as well as multiple listing data.  A Windows-based version of REsearch, developed in Visual C++, also provides color photos of property delivered via either CDROM or download.

¡         WebREsearchä is an advanced browser-based product that provides intranet access to the REsearch database as well as interactive access to detailed parcel maps.  WebREsearch is a showcase of leading edge technology using Dynamic HTML, server-side Java applications, Active server page technology, SQL Server database, ESRI Internet Map Server, and Live Picture¡¯s 360¡ã panoramic visual walk-throughs.

Previous Positions

¡         Director of Development, Multi-List Division, McGraw-Hill.  1978-1982.
In 1978, McGraw-Hill acquired Data Communication, Inc (see next item), and Mr. Pennington helped integrate technology developed there with technology from other acquisitions.

¡         Vice President for Information Systems, Data Communications, Inc.  1975-1978.  In 1975, Data Communications acquired Diversicom (see next item).  Mr. Pennington directed the enhancement and implementation of the on-line system from Diversicom as well as the development of the real estate industry¡¯s first MLS photo listing catalog to be produced electronically.

¡         Co-founder and director of development, Diversicom Timesharing, Inc.  1972-1975.  Mr. Pennington designed and directed the development of the first modern on-line real estate multiple listing system which served most of Silicon Valley.

¡         Thermo-aerodynamics Engineer, STI Division of United Aircraft.  1967-1972.

Education

Bachelor of Science degree in Physics, Stanford University

 

 

 


Craig Pennington, Detailed Experience

 

Diversicom Timesharing, Inc.

 

First modern on-line system for Realtors.

In 1972, Mr. Pennington was one of the founders of Diversicom Timesharing, Inc.  As the chief software architect, he directed the development of the first modern on-line system for Realtors.  Prior systems had required the use of cryptic codes to request features home buyers wanted in a house.  The Diversicom system allowed the user to enter requests in English.  By 1975, the system was in use by most Realtors in the Silicon Valley and attracted the attention of Data Communications, Inc. in Santa Barbara.  This company produced multiple listing photo catalogs for Realtors, and acquired Diversicom and its on-line capabilities.

Data Communications, Inc.

 

Industry¡¯s first automated photo book system.

Mr. Pennington moved to Santa Barbara to become Vice President for Information Systems for Data Communications, Inc. where he directed the computer operations and software development departments.  During this time, the on-line system was enhanced and delivered to boards of Realtors all over the west coast.  In addition, Mr. Pennington directed the design and development of the first fully computerized photo book production system in the industry.  While competitors were manually pasting text and photos, this system produced entire books using digitized photos, on-line data entry, and phototypeset output.

The advanced technology developed by Mr. Pennington was one of the reasons McGraw-Hill decided to acquire Data Communications in 1978 as part of its entry into the world of electronic publishing.

Coherent Systems, Inc.

 

Development of SmartStar

In 1982, Mr. Pennington left McGraw-Hill to found Coherent Systems where he began the development of an application development tool for VAX/VMS systems named SmartStar.  Coherent Systems entered into a partnership with Signal Technology, Inc. (STI) which took on the sales and marketing responsibilities for the product.  SmartStar was a Visual Basic-like tool for VMS.  It allowed the user to design complete form-based applications for access to databases.  The product supported multiple overlapping, scrollable windows with a user friendly interface.  (it is rumored that when Microsoft bought the product, it was shown to Bill Gates with the comment, ¡Look, here¡¯s a windows product that works!¡)  In many cases, applications could be developed which required no programming code at all.  On the other hand, SmartStar made it easy to add functionality using any programming language.

By 1985, SmartStar had become STI¡¯s most promising product and STI purchased a license to use and further develop the SmartStar software on its own.  The product became so successful that STI changed its name to SmartStar Corporation.  Eighteen years after its introduction, SmartStar is still sold by B2Systems, Inc.


 

CoPilot and REsearch

 

On-line access to public record data in Hawaii

Coherent Systems continued development of SmartStar, changing its name to CoPilot.  The Application Programming Interface was completely redesigned with an object orientation.  In addition, a relational database engine was developed, allowing sophisticated queries involving multiple tables.  A report writing tool was developed that allowed a user to visually design reports for CoPilot databases.

In 1987, MLS Hawaii, Inc. contracted with Coherent Systems to build an on-line query system for Realtors using CoPilot.  Taking advantage of CoPilot¡¯s relational database engine and the report writer, the system, called REsearch, provides access to an extensive database of public record information obtained from the tax assessor¡¯s office and other public agencies.  Additional sales transaction data is entered using CoPilot forms.

Personal REsearch

 

Windows based access to REsearch database

In 1992, MLS Hawaii decided to upgrade the REsearch product to use a Windows interface capable of displaying photos and maps on-line.  Coherent Systems developed this system using Visual C++.  It made use of TCP/IP communications technology to interface with the CoPilot database on the VMS system.

 

WebREsearch

 

Internet Access to real estate database

In 1997, MLS Hawaii asked Coherent Systems to build a totally new system based on the latest in internet technology.  Realtors in Hawaii now use WebREsearch, the most advanced on-line system in use by Realtors anywhere.  WebREsearch uses dynamic HTML and JavaScript on the client browser to provide the user with a powerful but easy to use interface.

By taking full advantage of these technologies, the client software provides immediate feedback to the user without unnecessary trips back to the server.  A data dictionary for the database resides on the client allowing field validation as the user exits a field in a form.  Various portions of the interface are hidden or displayed using dynamic HTML without the need to obtain new pages from the server.

The format and content of data displayed can be highly customized by the user. Any of several display formats can be displayed in any combination of four quadrants into which the main display area can be divided.  Users can construct custom formats by selecting any of 400 fields in the database.

Photos are displayed either from a CD which is sent monthly to the user or are downloaded as needed from the server.  Photos can be resized and rearranged dynamically on the browser.

Maps can be displayed using ESRI MapObjects and Internet Map Server.  The maps are very interactive through the use of dynamic HTML allowing panning and zooming as well as selecting parcels for which to display information from the database.  The map server is written using MapObjects and Visual Basic.

The database consists of over 30 tables in a SQL Server 7.0 database.  All data entry changes are recorded at the field level in a table so that the history of any given record can be determined.  Each search request by users is also recorded to assist customer service and for billing purposes.

Printed listing catalogs are produced using an Access database program which formats the data including photos using Access reports.

The web server makes extensive use of Active Server Pages as well as Java classes for specialized processing.