Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Mihai Corbuleac, Pat Romanski, David Bermingham

Related Topics: PowerBuilder, Microsoft Cloud

PowerBuilder: Article

The PowerBuilder .NET IDE

For the past year plus I've been spending a lot of time working with a web-based BI tool

For the past year plus I've been spending a lot of time working with a web-based BI tool (the development is actually done in a plug-in to Eclipse, but the end users access the results through a browser). The tool reminds me a lot of the DataWindow. You create objects that can either map directly to a database table or are based on textual SQL. Those objects are then combined into a composite object that the user can access to do ad-hoc queries without having to know how the underlying tables are related. The data connection is abstracted from the data access layer, and the reports it generates have an extensive event model that can be coded to respond to a wide variety of system events and user interactions.

That being said, it also reminds me of PowerBuilder and the DataWindow because as powerful as it is, it can also be extremely frustrating to work with. It rewrites the SQL in the composite objects, and sometimes it undoes a rather complicated operation that I didn't need rewritten. At that point I'm left trying to find a way to isolate my complicated operation so that the tool doesn't try to rewrite it for me.

I have been having similar problems with PowerBuidler .NET 12.5 lately. One of the updates in the .NET Framework 4.5 is a native Ribbon control for WPF. There was one in the .NET Framework 4.0, but it looks like it might have been a WPF wrapper around a non-WPF control. I wanted to try out the new control, so I installed the new framework. As soon as I did, I could no longer compile *any* WPF applications. So I uninstalled .NET 4.5, at which point I couldn't even run PowerBuilder .NET any longer. I ended up having to (a) uninstall .NET 4.5, (b) uninstall PowerBuilder 12.5, (c) reinstall PowerBuiler 12.5 and (d) reinstall .NET 4.0. Yes, I had to reinstall the previous version of .NET to completely clean it up.

I'm not sure it's PowerBuilder .NET's fault. I've got a lot of software tools on this machine, including multiple copies of Visual Studio, the Windows SDK, etc. Sybase wasn't able to replicate it with a fairly clean install. I was also setting up a second machine that had MS SQL Server 2012 on it, which also installs a couple of the Visual Studio 2010 shells. Since PowerBuilder.NET needed the Windows SDK, I attempted to install that. However, that wouldn't install until I removed all traces of the Visual Studio 2010 shells that MS SQL Server installed. It seems it's not that uncommon for Microsoft .NET related tools and SDKs to step on each other.

For what it's worth, that particular pain point was enough to finally convince me to start using virtual machines and to put the different development tools (and versions of different development tools) on different virtual machines. Once I got started (I'm using Oracle's VirtualBox, which is free), I'm surprised at how simple it is and wondered why I waited. The only snag so far is that I had to order more memory for my laptop and desktop. And eventually I might need to do hard drive upgrades. But it's better than the nightmare of software conflicts that I had to keep dealing with. If I do run into configuration problems in the future, I can just send tech support the VM image so they can see exactly what I'm dealing with.

That's all well and good, but what's the point you're probably asking. Well, all this pain got me thinking about how much pain we're willing to put up with to continue to use products that we like. There's got to be some point where the pain we experience from the tool not working the way we need it to overrides the benefits, at which point we start looking for some new development tool. With PowerBuilder the pain isn't really new. As long as I've been using the tool, and that's been for just about all the time it's been around, there's always been a point using it when it's a struggle to get it to do something, often times because something's not working the way it's supposed to. At one point somebody commented, and I think there's a lot of truth to it, that using it was like playing soccer in a minefield. The tool was buggy, but the people who had been using it for a while knew what the bugs (mines) were and avoided them, so they were successful using it. People who were new to the tool kept running into the mines, and wondered why the more experienced people even bothered using it.

I think the key for the product at that time, as well as for some of the other tools I've mentioned, is that the pain factor only reared its head after you'd been using it and being productive with it for a while. So you had some feel for what the tool could do and liked it, and you were willing to put up with the pain to continue to achieve the benefits. That's important, because if you start experiencing the pain point sooner than that, you won't get a feel for the advantages that the tool offers and wouldn't be motivated to continue using it.

I also got to thinking that this may be the reason that some people aren't as excited with the PowerBuilder .NET IDE as I am. Of course, I'd already been doing .NET development using Visual Studio for quite some time by the time that PowerBuilder .NET became available, so I was already familiar with the advantages that a .NET development tool offers. But for people who aren't sold on the benefits of .NET just yet, I'm not sure if some of the pain points associated with using that IDE aren't enough to keep people from using it before they get to the point where they realize the benefits. In particular, when I want to have PowerBuilder .NET interact with some .NET classes, I'm often starting with what I know is working C# code. I might even have created a small sample of what I needed to do in C# first. So when I'm working in PowerBuilder.NET, I'm mostly converting the C# code into the syntax that PowerBuilder .NET will accept. People who aren't that experienced with C# - or who aren't starting off with working C# code - face a double burden because they often don't know what the script is supposed to look like yet.

So, I do feel your pain. I know that I can find the .NET IDE a struggle to work with at times, and I imagine it's much more of a struggle for people new to .NET. We need to encourage SAP to work on making PowerBuilder.NET even simpler to use, particularly for people who are new to .NET. Customers will never learn to appreciate what it can do if they have trouble with it when they first start using it. Eventually you hit roadblocks with any tool, but they should come when you're pushing the envelope, not when you've first using it.

More Stories By Bruce Armstrong

Bruce Armstrong is a development lead with Integrated Data Services (www.get-integrated.com). A charter member of TeamSybase, he has been using PowerBuilder since version 1.0.B. He was a contributing author to SYS-CON's PowerBuilder 4.0 Secrets of the Masters and the editor of SAMs' PowerBuilder 9: Advanced Client/Server Development.

Comments (2) View Comments

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.


Most Recent Comments
mlibner 04/29/13 10:18:00 AM EDT

I agree completely. I struggled with the same problems until I installed PB.net and Visual Studio on a different VMs. SAP needs to continue developing the tool to reach its full potential. If people will step out of their comfort zone and give PB.net a chance (instead of bashing it) they will see how much easier integrating with other .net developers, vendors, tools, controls etc. it is than Classic. When a hammer is the only tool you have everything tends to look like a nail.

Dimitri Joosten 12/29/12 08:18:00 AM EST

Totally agree on this article! I find myself in solving problems in C# first and then "translate" it into PB script. To me PB.Net is the best PB yet as you can do much more with it once you know how .Net and XAML works.I know for many people it will be a learning curve. I hope SAP comes with improvements on the product soon with new targets like HTML 5 and winRT and an upgrade to .Net 4.5

@ThingsExpo Stories
Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC Software has been named "Siver Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. BMC is a global leader in innovative software solutions that help businesses transform into digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive advantage. BMC Digital Enterprise Management is a set of innovative IT solutions designed to make digital business fast, seamless, and optimized from mainframe to mo...
SoftLayer operates a global cloud infrastructure platform built for Internet scale. With a global footprint of data centers and network points of presence, SoftLayer provides infrastructure as a service to leading-edge customers ranging from Web startups to global enterprises. SoftLayer's modular architecture, full-featured API, and sophisticated automation provide unparalleled performance and control. Its flexible unified platform seamlessly spans physical and virtual devices linked via a world...
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discuss how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. We'll cite examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He'll also highlight how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable...
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? How do you coordinate the diverse moving parts that must come together when developing your IoT product? What are the key challenges addressed by Data as a Service? How does cloud computing underlie and connect the notions of Digital and DevOps What is the impact of the API economy? What is the business imperative for Cognitive Computing? Get all these questions and hundreds more like them answered at the 18th Cloud Expo...
SYS-CON Events announced today that EastBanc Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. EastBanc Technologies has been working at the frontier of technology since 1999. Today, the firm provides full-lifecycle software development delivering flexible technology solutions that seamlessly integrate with existing systems – whether on premise or cloud. EastBanc Technologies partners with p...
SYS-CON Events announced today Object Management Group® has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Adobe, will discuss 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). Bruce Swann has more than 15 years of experience working with digital marketing disciplines like web analytics, social med...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Tintri Inc., a leading producer of VM-aware storage (VAS) for virtualization and cloud environments, will exhibit at the 18th International CloudExpo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that ContentMX, the marketing technology and services company with a singular mission to increase engagement and drive more conversations for enterprise, channel and SMB technology marketers, has been named “Sponsor & Exhibitor Lounge Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. “CloudExpo is a great opportunity to start a conversation with new prospects, but what happens after the...
The IoTs will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and share the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the development proc...
What a difference a year makes. Organizations aren’t just talking about IoT possibilities, it is now baked into their core business strategy. With IoT, billions of devices generating data from different companies on different networks around the globe need to interact. From efficiency to better customer insights to completely new business models, IoT will turn traditional business models upside down. In the new customer-centric age, the key to success is delivering critical services and apps wit...
Join us at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo 2016 – June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City and November 1-3 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – and deliver your unique message in a way that is striking and unforgettable by taking advantage of SYS-CON's unmatched high-impact, result-driven event / media packages.
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, will provide an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life ...
As cloud and storage projections continue to rise, the number of organizations moving to the cloud is escalating and it is clear cloud storage is here to stay. However, is it secure? Data is the lifeblood for government entities, countries, cloud service providers and enterprises alike and losing or exposing that data can have disastrous results. There are new concepts for data storage on the horizon that will deliver secure solutions for storing and moving sensitive data around the world. ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex software systems for startups and enterprises. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business managers to a full-scale mobile software company with over 200 develope...
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, will discuss the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to fo...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. MangoApps provides modern company intranets and team collaboration software, allowing workers to stay connected and productive from anywhere in the world and from any device. For more information, please visit https://www.mangoapps.com/.
SYS-CON Events announced today TechTarget has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TechTarget is the Web’s leading destination for serious technology buyers researching and making enterprise technology decisions. Its extensive global networ...