Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Elizabeth White, Mihai Corbuleac, Pat Romanski, David Bermingham, Steven Mandel

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
Join IBM June 8 at 18th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn how to innovate like a startup and scale for the enterprise. You need to deliver quality applications faster and cheaper, attract and retain customers with an engaging experience across devices, and seamlessly integrate your enterprise systems. And you can't take 12 months to do it.
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, will discuss how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to im...
This is not a small hotel event. It is also not a big vendor party where politicians and entertainers are more important than real content. This is Cloud Expo, the world's longest-running conference and exhibition focused on Cloud Computing and all that it entails. If you want serious presentations and valuable insight about Cloud Computing for three straight days, then register now for Cloud Expo.
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
IoT device adoption is growing at staggering rates, and with it comes opportunity for developers to meet consumer demand for an ever more connected world. Wireless communication is the key part of the encompassing components of any IoT device. Wireless connectivity enhances the device utility at the expense of ease of use and deployment challenges. Since connectivity is fundamental for IoT device development, engineers must understand how to overcome the hurdles inherent in incorporating multipl...
The IETF draft standard for M2M certificates is a security solution specifically designed for the demanding needs of IoT/M2M applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Romansky, VP of Strategic Technology at TrustPoint Innovation, will explain how M2M certificates can efficiently enable confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity on highly constrained devices.
The paradigm has shifted. A Gartner survey shows that 43% of organizations are using or plan to implement the Internet of Things in 2016. However, not just a handful of companies are still using the old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways, unaware of the critical barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can you become a winner? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan will present a methodical approach to guide the holistic adoption and enablement of IoT implementations. This ov...
We’ve worked with dozens of early adopters across numerous industries and will debunk common misperceptions, which starts with understanding that many of the connected products we’ll use over the next 5 years are already products, they’re just not yet connected. With an IoT product, time-in-market provides much more essential feedback than ever before. Innovation comes from what you do with the data that the connected product provides in order to enhance the customer experience and optimize busi...
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to massively disrupt IoT. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond AI, will discuss what the five main drivers are in Artificial Intelligence that could shape the future of the Internet of Things. AJ Abdallat is CEO of Beyond AI. He has over 20 years of management experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, sensors, instruments, devices and software for telecommunications, life sciences, environmental monitoring, process...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ericsson has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility. Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks we have supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world re...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Stratoscale, the software company developing the next generation data center operating system, 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. Stratoscale is revolutionizing the data center with a zero-to-cloud-in-minutes solution. With Stratoscale’s hardware-agnostic, Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) solution to store everything, run anything and scale everywhere...
Angular 2 is a complete re-write of the popular framework AngularJS. Programming in Angular 2 is greatly simplified – now it's a component-based well-performing framework. This immersive one-day workshop at 18th Cloud Expo, led by Yakov Fain, a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay, will provide you with everything you wanted to know about Angular 2.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, 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. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Rachio, will discuss next generation communities that are using IoT to create more sustainable, intelligent communities. One example is Sterling Ranch, a 10,000 home development that – with the help of Siemens – will integrate IoT technology into the community to provide residents with energy and water savings as well as intelligent security. Everything from stop lights to sprinkler systems to building infrastructures will run ef...
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, will discuss how leveraging the Industrial Interne...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
Increasing IoT connectivity is forcing enterprises to find elegant solutions to organize and visualize all incoming data from these connected devices with re-configurable dashboard widgets to effectively allow rapid decision-making for everything from immediate actions in tactical situations to strategic analysis and reporting. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Shikhir Singh, Senior Developer Relations Manager at Sencha, will discuss how to create HTML5 dashboards that interact with IoT devic...
There is an ever-growing explosion of new devices that are connected to the Internet using “cloud” solutions. This rapid growth is creating a massive new demand for efficient access to data. And it’s not just about connecting to that data anymore. This new demand is bringing new issues and challenges and it is important for companies to scale for the coming growth. And with that scaling comes the need for greater security, gathering and data analysis, storage, connectivity and, of course, the...