PowerBuilder Ships Upgrades, Eyes NET 2.0

Sybase is going back-to-basics with an overdue upgrade to its core PowerBuilder 4GL rapid appdev tool, adding core security, web services and DataWindow enhancements. But, the PowerBuilder 10.5 release also sets the stage for a wave of more ambitious upgrades for .NET Framework 2.0. IDN takes a look.

Tags: PowerBuilder, Support, Web Services, DataWindow, Upgrades, Integration, Developer,


Sybase is going back-to-basics with an overdue upgrade to its core PowerBuilder 4GL rapid appdev tool, adding core security, web services and DataWindow enhancements. The PowerBuilder 10.5 release also sets the stage for a wave of more ambitious upgrades for .NET Framework 2.0. IDN takes a look.

"Sybase has been working on new upgrades for PowerBuilder for quite some time, to support our existing devs, as well as target new markets such as VisualStudio, .NET and even Pocket Developer," Sue Dunnell, Sybase's PowerBuilder product manager. PowerBuilder 10.5 is a collection of the upgrades and enhancements that we believe will most benefit our core developer."

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Dunnell estimates there are hundreds of thousands of PowerBuilder developers - everywhere from the mom and pop developer to the enterprise Fortune 500 companies. The PowerBuilder 10.5 upgrades fall into four (4) categories

  • UI Enhancements -- DateTime Picker, Menus and Toolbars, and New Icons and Bitmaps

  • DB Services Enhancements -- Support for Oracle 10g and native driver for Sybase's ASE 15.0

  • Web Services Enhancements -- Support Complex Data Types, and Security / Authentication

  • DataWindow Enhancements -- TreeView Presentation Style and Auto-size Height for All DataWindow Bands

    The make-up of PowerBuilder 10.5 is also, in part, a reflection of just how much importance Sybase has attached to deep support for .NET development.

    "We had a four-phase plan for supporting .NET, which included native integration with PowerBuilder's DataWindow, assemblies and even bringing .NET into the PowerBuilder IDE itself. But as Microsoft had some delays, that meant that we had to rethink that roadmap, especially where it relied on .NET 2.0. Our customers get antsy after 18 months in between releases, so we wanted to get the release out there."

    While Microsoft ended up delivering VS2005 in November, Sybase execs had to commit to a feature-set for their PowerBuilder release before that. "So, we took everything that was not .NET-related from the roadmap for [PowerBuilder 11], and added that to this release.

    PowerBuilder 10.5 also nibbles at the need to add better native support for web services, as well. "For web services, we've changed the underlying implementation, In earlier versions we used SOAP implementations for doing complex data types and security," Dunnell told IDN. "Now it's native web services. A fuller suite of native web services support and .NET integrations will come with PowerBuilder 11.0."

    DataWindow Taps VS, .NET Dev Interest
    PowerBuilder's DataWindow technology devs easily access data from multiple enterprise DBs and declaratively build a complex SQL statement, declarative add properties, apply business logic, validate rules, update and retrieve data and even act upon that data "This kind of integration has really caught the interest of a lot of developers that want to work with .NET [projects], which isn't always easy" Dunnell told IDN

    The DataWindow technology, now available for VisualStudio 2005, will be upgraded late this summer and provide devs tighter drag-and-drop integration between the DataWindow technology and the underlying VisualStudio dev framework, and will support web services as a datasource. Bringing web services support to the DataWindow is a crucial step to bringing full DataWindow support for .NET Framework 2.0, Dunnell told IDN.

    While Microsoft delays did impact the shipping of a full PowerBuilder version for .NET 2.0, the time table remains in tact for the DataWindow's support for NET 2.0. That release, also available last month add the following support:

  • AJAX Style Script Callback Capability
  • Native access to Sybase ASE databases through the Sybase ADO.NET Data Provider for ASE
  • Support for all types of operations such as connect, disconnect, select, update, and delete as well as procedures
  • Native access to Oracle with the ADO.NET Oracle native driver (ODP.NET), and
  • Can connect to Oracle database using Oracle's native syntax

  • PowerBuilder's Easy Migration from Win32 to .NET
    Migration from the Windows 32 version to the .NET 2.0 PowerBuilder code will be simplicity itself. "We're making that very easy," Dunnell said. "Open a file, click 'Migrate' and moving your application to PowerBuilder 11.0 and .NET should be that clean. The only time there might be problems are when we have marked some language construct as obsolete."

    Under the covers, PowerBuilder 11, will take a PowerBuilder component (an NonVisual Object) and deploy those as assemblies. "That approach means that anything you build in 10.5 will be migrated easily through just clicking 'Open a File' in [PowerBuilder] 11, and deploy it there. You can also build and run a Win32 app or with the .NET compiler.

    PowerBuilder 10.5 is available now for $2,995, or under an upgrade subscription for $645.



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