Click here to close now.


Microsoft Cloud Authors: Jordan Sanders, Carmen Gonzalez, Pat Romanski, Keith Mayer, Jayaram Krishnaswamy

Related Topics: PowerBuilder, Microsoft Cloud, SAP HANA Cloud

PowerBuilder: Article

DataWindow Magic: Menu Security

Designing and implementing your own

Security is a must for most corporate applications. This article will give you a starting point to designing and implementing your own. We will do it with a table that is added to the example database and implement it in ancestor code. The idea is that you should only have to add rows to a table to implement your security.

The Table
The security table will provide a means to turn on and off controls and menu items as our inherited objects are constructed.


Login_name varchar(20) PK

Application varchar(20) PK

Item_type varchar(10) PK

Item_name varchar(20) PK

Priviledge varchar(2)



Column Name

Data Type



Varchar(20) PK

The login name of the user


Varchar(20) PK

The name of the application


Varchar(10) PK

Might be window or menu or a type of control in a window like a command button. We will only cover menu types in this article.


Varchar(60) PK

Menu item name like "File" or "New"



NULL = no priviledges

R = read only

I = Invisible

W = read/write

The Item Datastore
Although I had several choices I decided to create a datastore that would return all of the specified item types for an application. If I was in a menu I could look for menus. If I was in a window I could look for windows.

Ds_security_list data source

SELECT "security"."application",  
FROM "security" 
WHERE ( "security"."item_type" = :as_itemType ) AND 
( "security"."application" = :as_appName ) AND 
"security"."login_name" = :as_loginName

This will give you all the items and privileges for the supplied application name and itemtype.

Now that we have this we can start our menu.

The Root Menu
Menus don't have constructors. We are going to implement our security with a function. I created a new menu and added a function called mf_loadSecurity.

Here is the code for mf_loadSecurity

M_root.mf_loadSecurity(as_loginName, as_appName)

// First get a list of all menu security items
datastore lds
lds = create datastore
lds.dataobject = "ds_security_list"
lds.settransobject( sqlca)

// Now retrieve
long ll_row, ll_max
ll_max = lds.retrieve(as_loginName, as_appName, "menu")

Let's discuss this code a little before we continue. As you'll see, handling a menu programmatically, for any reason, is necessarily complex.

The menu object has an array of items in it. Each of those items is another menu item that also has its array of items.

If the array of items in any particular menu item has no elements, then that is a bottom level menu item. If there are elements in the array then those elements compose the sub-menu for that menu item.

You might want to read the last couple of paragraphs a few times. Here, let me give you an example.

For my article I created a menu object inherited from m_root and named m_main that looks something like the following:

I didn't want to confuse the issue too much so I put in only the File menu option along the top. Under File I put New and Exit. Under New I put Test 1, Test 2, and Test 3.

Here is how the menu looks in the menu painter.

Note that I have an item called Invisible in the menu. This comes from m_root. I put it there to implement system-wide shortcuts. The visible property for this is FALSE.

For our test we are only concerned with the Test 1, Test 2, and Test 3 menu items. I am going to make Test 1 read-only and Test 2 invisible.

Since we have this metaphor of arrays of menu items within menu items we are forced to use recursion. Don't worry, though, we'll walk through it.

Recursion has been known to throw even the bravest programmer into fits of apprehension. Essentially we need two functions. One just fires off the recursive function for every element in its item array. The recursive function will check to see if the arguments to itself are a match. If so, it returns itself. If they are not then it loops through its own item array, calling itself for each element.

The function mf_loadSecurity calls the recursive function. The first part loads the datastore that holds the security list. We have already defined that. The mf_loadSecurity takes two arguments. Those are the arguments that are used to retrieve that array.

Once we retrieve that datastore we have a row for every row in the security table that matches the login name of the user and the application name has an item_type of ‘menu'. At this point we are not worried about the window security. The mf_loadSecurity will loop through all of those to work its magic.

Note that I could have gone the opposite route and looped through each and every menu item recursively then done a singleton select in each one. I chose the former because I think it will be rare that we will have a row for all of the menu items and thus this will be a faster response time. Here we do one call to the server for the result set rather than one call for every menu item.

I loop through every row. I extract the privilege and the item name for each row. I call the recursive function for each row, looking for the item. I pass myself and the item name.

The recursive function mf_findMenuItem will return the found menu item or a null. If it is a null then the menu item was not found.

If the item was indeed found then I set the appropriate property for that menu item (depending on the privilege that I just read).

If you look closely at the code for mf_loadSecurity while reading the explanation you should be able to understand rather easily.

mf_findMenuItem is the recursive function. It calls itself from within itself. Recursion is not terribly complicatee but you have to remember to give yourself some way to unwind from the function otherwise you waste a lot of processing.

M_root.mf_findMenuItem(menu amenu, string as_name)

//Are we there yet?
if amenu.text = as_name then
return amenu // Yes, we are... let's go home
end if
// This wasn't a match, we have to look in the item array

long ll_row, ll_max
menu lmenu_return // the return value
setNull(lmenu_return) // default to null

// Loop through the item array

ll_max = upperBound(amenu.item)
for ll_row = 1 to ll_max
// Call myself for every element in the array

lmenu_return = mf_findMenuItem(amenu.item[ll_row], as_name)
if isNull(lmenu_return) then
// It was not a match, look in the next element
return lmenu_return // We got a match, time to unwind
end if

// No match in the entire item array, sorry about that.
return lmenu_return

The comments should make this fairly obvious but I'll walk you through it anyway.

We have two arguments. One is the menu that we would like to search. Remember, it has its own item array. First we check to see if this menu item is a match. If it is then we're done. If it's not then we have to search every element in the item array for a match.

That's basically all there is to it.

Insert Security Rows in the Database
Next we need to insert the two rows in the database that will let us have the effect we want. One row has to set the ‘Test 1' menu item to read-only and the other sets ‘Test 2' to invisible.

Rows for our security table

INSERT INTO "security" 
( "login_name",  
"priviledge" ) 
VALUES ( 'dba',  
'Test 1',  
'R' )  ;

INSERT INTO "security" 
( "login_name",  
"priviledge" ) 
VALUES ( 'dba',  
'Test 2',  
'I' )  ;

Implementing the Menu Security
Now we inherit a window from w_root and we give it the m_main menu. Then we go to the open event of w_root and put in the following code:

m_root lmenu
lmenu = this.menuid
lmenu.mf_loadsecurity("dba" , "security_test" )

This should be pretty self-explanatory. You might not be aware of what the second line means. The menuid property of any window is the menu object that is assigned to that window.

You might wonder why I would add this code to the open event and not the ue_postOpen. The answer lies in the functionality of the open even and ue_postOpen.

The open event happens before the drawing of the window. The ue_postOpen is posted in the ancestor window (w_root) and therefore happens after the window is drawn. In our case we don't want the window to be displayed until after the security happens so this is one of the very rare instances where we want code in the open as opposed to the postOpen events.

The Final Touch
Lastly we have to add the code for the Application open event to fire everything off.

Application open event

// Profile EAS Demo DB V115
SQLCA.AutoCommit = False
SQLCA.DBParm = "ConnectString='DSN=EAS Demo DB V115;UID=dba;PWD=sql'"
connect using sqlca;


Of Course There Is Always More
If you think about the menu security you will soon realize that we don't allow for duplicate menu texts. Only the first match to a text will be found. We could change this by comparing the menu name rather than text. That would be something like m_root.m_file.m_new.Test1. That won't be a hard change if you want to do it yourself.

You could also use this metaphor to implement window level security. Using the same table then looping through the control array for the window in the open event looking for window controls that are in the security table for the user name and application. That should be simple enough for you now that you know how to do it.

NOTE: The code in this article uses my proprietary tools.pbl. You can reproduce it or you can write me asking for both the source of this article and the tools pbl as well. My e-mail address is at the bottom of the article.

Also, all the data for the application comes from the sample database that comes with PowerBuilder. That is the database that almost all of my readers have. I have had to expand the table though to support the needs of this article.

More Stories By Richard (Rik) Brooks

Rik Brooks has been programming in PowerBuilder since the final beta release before version 1. He has authored or co-authored five books on PowerBuilder including “The Definitive DataWindow”. Currently he lives in Mississippi and works in Memphis, Tennessee.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Countless business models have spawned from the IaaS industry – resell Web hosting, blogs, public cloud, and on and on. With the overwhelming amount of tools available to us, it's sometimes easy to overlook that many of them are just new skins of resources we've had for a long time. In his general session at 17th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, an IBM Company, broke down what we have to work with, discussed the benefits and pitfalls and how we can best use them to design hosted applications.
Most of the IoT Gateway scenarios involve collecting data from machines/processing and pushing data upstream to cloud for further analytics. The gateway hardware varies from Raspberry Pi to Industrial PCs. The document states the process of allowing deploying polyglot data pipelining software with the clear notion of supporting immutability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Shashank Jain, a development architect for SAP Labs, discussed the objective, which is to automate the IoT deployment process from development to production scenarios using Docker containers.
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, demonstrated examples of com...
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningful and actionable insights. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Paul Turner, Chief Marketing Officer at...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessions, I wanted to share some of my observations on emerging trends. As cyber security serves as a fou...
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now all corporate assets – people, objects, and spaces – can share information about themselves and thei...
The cloud. Like a comic book superhero, there seems to be no problem it can’t fix or cost it can’t slash. Yet making the transition is not always easy and production environments are still largely on premise. Taking some practical and sensible steps to reduce risk can also help provide a basis for a successful cloud transition. A plethora of surveys from the likes of IDG and Gartner show that more than 70 percent of enterprises have deployed at least one or more cloud application or workload. Yet a closer inspection at the data reveals less than half of these cloud projects involve production...
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" in this scenario: microservice A (releases daily) depends on a couple of additions to backend B (re...
Container technology is shaping the future of DevOps and it’s also changing the way organizations think about application development. With the rise of mobile applications in the enterprise, businesses are abandoning year-long development cycles and embracing technologies that enable rapid development and continuous deployment of apps. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kurt Collins, Developer Evangelist at, examined how Docker has evolved into a highly effective tool for application delivery by allowing increasingly popular Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (mBaaS) platforms to quickly crea...
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound effect on the world, and what should we expect to see over the next couple of years.
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, wil...
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNub’s Data Stream Network.