Nice URLs for HTMLDB? Fishing for help!

I think HTMLDB is quite a gem in the Oracle Database offering. It is a great data centric GUI building tool; if you need a quick GUI for an Oracle based application consider HTMLDB. I got on to HTMLDB when I used it to build an administrative tool for an OWB Data Warehouse for a large publisher in Boston. I did so because it was free and easy, but quickly became addicted!

Asktom runs on HTMLDB; obviously it scales! So, assuming you don’t mind vendor lock in (will only run on Oracle) for your database, HTMLDB can be used as a GUI for custom applications, intranet applications, and extranet applications. Rapid, productive, and FREE with the database! Excellent! It’s powerful enough to even build publicly accessible websites, like AskTom…

That’s where I’m getting into a pickle! Publicly accessible sites have some additional requirements. Scalability, check. Professional looking templates, check. URLs acceptable for bookmarking and search engine ranking, big screeching crashing halt!

For those unfamiliar with search engine indexing in general, here’s the summary:
Search Engines generally rank lower pages with identical content, if their content is determined by parameters to the right of the “?” In other words (and entirely without proof) the following AskTom page on “Fast Wild Card Searching” (

would be ranked higher for some google searches if it’s URL was more like this:

There’s an entire industry built around how to ensure that your valuable content is mated with people searching for it. It would be tough to sell a company on using a solution that will almost certainly decrease their ability to reach customers (google users) with the content they put into their application.

I’ve used mod_rewrite before on simple point solutions to help make a site google friendly. However there is some significant work to be done(maps of page IDs to page names, maps of application IDs to names, complicated regex, etc) to create a mod_rewrite solution to make HTML DB urls easier on the eyes, bookmarks, and better indexed by search engines.

Anyone facing similar issues? Anyone have any prior art they wouldn’t mind sharing with the community? Please email me (boy, I really need to get my comments working on my blog) and I’ll be happy to post any information on it here.