Compendium of Pesticide Common Names

About the Compendium

Card index

The Compendium developed from a card index that I started in 1972 when I was the Indexer for the Review of Applied Entomology, to help standardise the names of pesticides in the abstracts and indexes. My work gave me access to the world literature on agricultural research and enabled me to include common names from the USA, the USSR, Japan and several other countries, in addition to those published by BSI and ISO. I was based at the Commonwealth Institute of Entomology in South Kensington, so I also had easy access to the printed version of Chemical Abstracts in the library of Imperial College and I could add Registry Numbers and CAS systematic names to my data.

Windows Help file

I was prompted to create the Compendium by the failure of ISO to publish amendments to ISO 1750 Pesticides and other agrochemicals – Common names for a period of 17 years. The committee members were anxious to make people aware of the existence of over 250 new common names, all of which were included in my card index. I had been fascinated by the Windows Help files in Windows 3.1, an early type of hypertext document. This looked like a suitable format for the pesticide data and indexes, so I bought Microsoft’s set of Windows programming manuals to learn how to produce Help files and joined the Microsoft Developer Network to obtain the compiler. By 1995, I had typed all of the data from my index cards into my computer and I produced the first version of the Compendium, PCN.HLP. I distributed it on 3½″ floppy disks, and updated it until March 1998. The source for Windows Help had to be written in RTF (Rich Text Format); I used the DOS version of WordPerfect 5.1 to edit the source files, which had to be put through the compiler to produce the Help file. Here is the RTF for the IUPAC name of acetamiprid followed by a link to the entry for acetamiprid, and a screenshot from the Help file:

{\uldb ({\i E})-{\i N}\'B9-[(6-chloro-3-pyridyl)methyl]-{\i N}\'B2-cyano-{\i N}\'B9-methylacetamidine  [acetamiprid]}{\v %acetamiprid}\par

Help file entry for acetamiprid
Windows Help entry for acetamiprid


In 1997 I was facing redundancy and I wanted to establish a Web presence to help with finding a new job as an information scientist, so I decided to convert the Compendium to a website. This involved multiple search and replace operations to convert RTF into HTML, followed by a lot of copying and pasting to produce the hundreds of separate HTML files. I switched to a text editor for working with HTML files, first TextPad and then UltraEdit for its better support of Unicode and of search and replace across multiple files. Here is the HTML for the IUPAC name of acetamiprid followed by a link to the page for acetamiprid:

<dt>(<i>E</i>)-<i>N</i><sup>1</sup>-[(6-chloro-3-pyridyl)methyl]-<i>N</i><sup>2</sup>-cyano-<i>N</i><sup>1</sup>-methylacetamidine</dt><dd><a href="acetamiprid.html">acetamiprid</a></dd>

The website was originally hosted in the free web space provided by my Internet service provider, Demon Internet, at until it exceeded the 20 MB disk space limit in 2002 and I moved it to

You can see several previous versions of the Compendium website in the Wayback Machine, including:

I intended to include structural formulae in the Windows Help file, but I could not find the time. After producing the website I still thought that structural formulae would be too much work, but a few years later I changed my mind. I chose the monochrome GIF format because the files were small (an important consideration at the time), and I produced templates that I could combine in Paint Shop Pro to produce complex images, for example:

Structural formula of acrinathrin
Structural formula of acrinathrin

After the free version of ChemSketch became available, I started using it to produce the GIF images for the Compendium and also WMF images for ISO Amendments. In 2018, I started using ChemDoodle so that I could produce scaleable SVG images of much higher quality, and I replaced all of the structural formulae:

Structural formula of acrinathrin
Structural formula of acrinathrin

Over the years, I have updated the Compendium to comply with new HTML specifications and to improve accessibility. I have also added more data and more indexes for material such as IUPAC PINs, InChIs, InChiKeys, ester and salt derivatives, French common names, Russian common names and Chinese common names.

XML and data exchange

Not long after the Compendium website launched, I started getting requests from universities and government departments for copies of the source data, which they wrongly assumed was in a database when it was really just a collection of HTML files. Excel and CSV might have been suitable formats, but I had no way to get the data into those formats. XML also seemed like a suitable format for exchanging the data, even though it was new, and I decided to try it. It took me some time to learn how XML worked, how to produce DTD and XSD files, and how to write a CSS style sheet so that web browsers could display the data. As part of the conversion process from RTF to HTML, I had produced a large file of concatenated data sheets in HTML format, and with a lot of search and replace operations I managed to convert this to XML. Starting from XML, it just needs a series of search and replace operations to produce a CSV file that I can then open and save in Excel. Here is part of the data for acetamiprid in XML format:

<chinese><span xml:lang='zh-Hans'>啶虫脒</span></chinese>
<french><span xml:lang='fr'>acétamipride</span></french>
<russian><span xml:lang='ru'>ацетамиприд</span></russian>
<status>ISO 1750 (published)</status>
<authority>Name approved by ISO and published in <i>Pesticides and other agrochemicals - Common names</i> Amendment 2 (ISO 1750:1981/AMD 2:1999).</authority>
<iupac>(1<i>E</i>)-<i>N</i>-[(6-chloro-3-pyridyl)methyl]-<i>N′</i>-cyano-<i>N</i>-methylacetimidamide<br/>1979 Rules:<br/>(<i>E</i>)-<i>N</i><sup>1</sup>-[(6-chloro-3-pyridyl)methyl]-<i>N</i><sup>2</sup>-cyano-<i>N</i><sup>1</sup>-methylacetamidine</iupac>

Here is the same data for acetamiprid in CSV format:

"acetamiprid","acetamiprid","啶虫脒","acétamipride","m","ацетамиприд","ISO 1750 (published)","Name approved by ISO and published in <i>Pesticides and other agrochemicals - Common names</i> Amendment 2 (ISO 1750:1981/AMD 2:1999).","(1<i>E</i>)-<i>N</i>-[(6-chloropyridin-3-yl)methyl]-<i>N′</i>-cyano-<i>N</i>-methylethanimidamide","(1<i>E</i>)-<i>N</i>-[(6-chloro-3-pyridyl)methyl]-<i>N′</i>-cyano-<i>N</i>-methylacetimidamide<br/>1979 Rules:<br/>(<i>E</i>)-<i>N</i><sup>1</sup>-[(6-chloro-3-pyridyl)methyl]-<i>N</i><sup>2</sup>-cyano-<i>N</i><sup>1</sup>-methylacetamidine"

I have continued to maintain the XML file by copying and pasting new and updated data from the HTML files. I do not use it to generate the HTML files. It is useful for generating new indexes, most recently the index of InChiKeys, and for checking consistency, as well as for exchanging data.

BSI Comittee Member logo

I have been a member of the BSI and ISO committees that assign common names of pesticides since 1981, and I received their documents for a few years before that, enabling me to add new names to the Compendium as soon as they are provisionally approved. The flow of information works both ways. I had the data for the Compendium stored in an XML file, so after adding a few extra fields for ISO data I was able to produce Amendments 4, 5 and 6 to ISO 1750 Pesticides and other agrochemicals – Common names and a revision of ISO 765 Pesticides considered not to require common names. It was a laborious process, copying and pasting data into cells in tables in Microsoft Word files, but all of the data was in one place and there was no need for re-typing.

By 2020, I had taught myself enough about XSL style sheets that I could extract selected fields from the XML file and output them in tables in an HTML file. Here is how I check if there is a file name for a structural formula of a compound, and if there is, display the SVG version at a suitable width and height:

<xsl:if test="string-length(structure) > 0">
<th>Structure</th><td><img src="svg/{structure}.svg" width="{width4pdf}" height="{height4pdf}" alt="Structural formula of {name}" title="Structural formula of {name}"/></td>

By using an XSL style sheet to select all of the required fields, I can transform XML via HTML into Microsoft Word, and I was able to produce the data tables for Amendment 7 with a few clicks.

Data table for fenoxasulfone
Data table for fenoxasulfone, generated from XML

Handing over to BCPC

Now it is 2021, and I am getting old and slow, and working on the Compendium is starting to taking too much of my time. The Compendium is going to carry on, and it will remain as a free resource, but it will be maintained by BCPC, the British Crop Protection Council.

I am also planning to leave the BSI and ISO committees, but not until the next edition of ISO 1750 is complete and another representative of CAB International has been appointed.

Alan Wood


Send comments and questions to BCPC

Created 17th May 2004   —   Updated 16th June 2021

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