Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Janakiram MSV, Andreas Grabner, Stackify Blog, Liz McMillan

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)

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
What sort of WebRTC based applications can we expect to see over the next year and beyond? One way to predict development trends is to see what sorts of applications startups are building. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Arin Sime, founder of WebRTC.ventures, discussed the current and likely future trends in WebRTC application development based on real requests for custom applications from real customers, as well as other public sources of information.
The financial services market is one of the most data-driven industries in the world, yet it’s bogged down by legacy CPU technologies that simply can’t keep up with the task of querying and visualizing billions of records. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Karthik Lalithraj, a Principal Solutions Architect at Kinetica, discussed how the advent of advanced in-database analytics on the GPU makes it possible to run sophisticated data science workloads on the same database that is housing the rich...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Massive Networks mission is simple. To help your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions. Improve your customer's experience with outstanding connections to your cloud.
In the enterprise today, connected IoT devices are everywhere – both inside and outside corporate environments. The need to identify, manage, control and secure a quickly growing web of connections and outside devices is making the already challenging task of security even more important, and onerous. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Rich Boyer, CISO and Chief Architect for Security at NTT i3, discussed new ways of thinking and the approaches needed to address the emerging challenges of security i...
DX World EXPO, LLC., a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
"The Striim platform is a full end-to-end streaming integration and analytics platform that is middleware that covers a lot of different use cases," explained Steve Wilkes, Founder and CTO at Striim, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Everything run by electricity will eventually be connected to the Internet. Get ahead of the Internet of Things revolution and join Akvelon expert and IoT industry leader, Sergey Grebnov, in his session at @ThingsExpo, for an educational dive into the world of managing your home, workplace and all the devices they contain with the power of machine-based AI and intelligent Bot services for a completely streamlined experience.
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, will examine the regulations and provide insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Calligo, an innovative cloud service provider offering mid-sized companies the highest levels of data privacy and security, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Calligo offers unparalleled application performance guarantees, commercial flexibility and a personalised support service from its globally located cloud plat...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DXWorldExpo has been named “Global Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation is the key issue driving the global enterprise IT business. Digital Transformation is most prominent among Global 2000 enterprises and government institutions.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datera, that offers a radically new data management architecture, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datera is transforming the traditional datacenter model through modern cloud simplicity. The technology industry is at another major inflection point. The rise of mobile, the Internet of Things, data storage and Big...
While the focus and objectives of IoT initiatives are many and diverse, they all share a few common attributes, and one of those is the network. Commonly, that network includes the Internet, over which there isn't any real control for performance and availability. Or is there? The current state of the art for Big Data analytics, as applied to network telemetry, offers new opportunities for improving and assuring operational integrity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Frey, Vice President of S...
"We provide IoT solutions. We provide the most compatible solutions for many applications. Our solutions are industry agnostic and also protocol agnostic," explained Richard Han, Head of Sales and Marketing and Engineering at Systena America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We are focused on SAP running in the clouds, to make this super easy because we believe in the tremendous value of those powerful worlds - SAP and the cloud," explained Frank Stienhans, CTO of Ocean9, Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"DX encompasses the continuing technology revolution, and is addressing society's most important issues throughout the entire $78 trillion 21st-century global economy," said Roger Strukhoff, Conference Chair. "DX World Expo has organized these issues along 10 tracks with more than 150 of the world's top speakers coming to Istanbul to help change the world."
"We've been engaging with a lot of customers including Panasonic, we've been involved with Cisco and now we're working with the U.S. government - the Department of Homeland Security," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"MobiDev is a Ukraine-based software development company. We do mobile development, and we're specialists in that. But we do full stack software development for entrepreneurs, for emerging companies, and for enterprise ventures," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SYS-CON Events announced today that DXWorldExpo has been named “Global Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation is the key issue driving the global enterprise IT business. Digital Transformation is most prominent among Global 2000 enterprises and government institutions.
In his opening keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Michael Maximilien, Research Scientist, Architect, and Engineer at IBM, discussed the full potential of the cloud and social data requires artificial intelligence. By mixing Cloud Foundry and the rich set of Watson services, IBM's Bluemix is the best cloud operating system for enterprises today, providing rapid development and deployment of applications that can take advantage of the rich catalog of Watson services to help drive insights from the vast t...