PowerBuilder's Future
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PB's Future

Warning!

Any company talking about the future should be taken as speculating, not committing. Sybase is no different. If they announce a feature, and circumstances change to make it unprofitable or no longer beneficial to the overall community, hopefully they’ll have the common sense to drop the plan. So, remember that none of what follows is written in stone! The same applies to predicted schedules. Hopefully, Sybase will be releasing anything based on when the functionality is ready, as opposed to being driven by what announcements had been made.

Any opinion (and some speculation) in these pages are my own. Since I’m not a Sybase employee, it’s safe to assume that these opinions do not reflect those of Sybase.

The best place to find out about PowerBuilder futures are:

  • Sybase’s web site
  • Sybase’s community events, like webcasts and TechWave
    • many webcasts are recorded and available after the fact from the Sybase web site here and here
    • TechWave sessions’ slides are available to attendees and ISUG members
  • ISUG TechCasts are webcasts of technical information relevant to Sybase developers
    • Archives of the ISUG TechCasts are also kept
  • Sybase user group events

In the meantime, I’ll try to collect some summary information here. The following is in no particular order. My expectation is that this information can become quickly outdated on this page, so, again, take everything with a grain of salt (in other words, not too seriously). Don’t forget to see the detail pages, listed on the left below this page, for more details.

Coming Releases

PowerBuilder 11.5

Estimated Release: 2008Q3 (“TechWave 2008”, which is August 4-8)
Migration required: Yes
Upgrade cost: Yes (previously announced as none)

Announced Features

  • .NET targets
    • Code Access Security
    • Strong-named assemblies
    • Remote deployment
    • Function calls on primitive and enumerate types
    • Static member access
  • Database interfaces
    • Oracle 11g
    • MS SQL Server 2008
  • Transaction objects’ DBError and SQLPreview event which will include embedded SQL
  • More PNG support
    • menus, toolbars, treeviews, DataWindows, picture, picturebutton
    • transparency
  • Federal Desktop Core Configuration (FDCC) compliance
  • DataWindow enhancements
    • Background: gradients, pictures
    • Controls: gradients, transparency (as a percentage), tooltips
    • Columns: Rich text edit style
    • Graphs: 3D graph styles (also in stand-alone graph control)

PowerBuilder 12

Estimated Release: 2009 (“TechWave”, which is usually August)
Migration required: Yes
Upgrade cost: Yes

Announced Features

  • .NET graphical control integration (i.e. being able to place .NET 3rd party visual controls on WinForms and WebForms windows and user objects, not that there aren’t work arounds for this already with the COM Callable Wrapper)
  • Managed code in the DataWindow, database drivers, resulting in end-to-end managed code for .NET deployments
  • .NET Common Language Specification (CLS) support: the ability to produce/consume via PowerScript any assembly that was written in another CLS-compliant language
  • Complete .NET interoperatbility

WPF Targets

PowerBuilder 12 will introduce a new type of target: the WPF target. Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) is a new type of .NET application that Microsoft is introducing. While WPF means a lot of things, probably what it is best known for, and what PowerBuilder 12 intends to bring to PowerBuilder developers, are the graphically rich controls. Right now, the most popular representations of this would be the Vista user interface and Office 2007 (think of the “glassy” buttons on the ribbon controls). To get a better idea of what this is and means, see the TechWave 2007 Application Development plenary. This is also a good place to get a taste of the IDE upgrades.

WPF Migration: Because of the distinct change in foundation that Microsoft is providing, there will be challenges to migration. For example, challenges expected at this point include:

  • changes in available functions, attributes and events in controls,
  • lack of handles from controls
  • not all available events in the Win32 model will be available in WPF

As a result, migration to WPF targets will be one-way (you can’t share code between WPF targets and other target types) and there may be some effort required to migrate.

WPF IDE: The IDE for WPF targets will be separate from the traditional IDE that will continue to be used for Win32, WinForms, WebForms, and other types of targets. This new IDE will be based on the Visual Studio shell that Microsoft provides for third parties to leverage. This does not mean that you will be developing PowerBuilder applications in Visual Studio; it means the PowerBuilder WPF Workshop IDE will be using the same shell that is the foundation of Visual Studio. This also does not mean that you will be editing the entire class in one text region as Visual Studio users do. The intention is to not change the way we work in the IDE. This will bring to the table script painter enhancements like:

  • collapsable code blocks in the script painter
  • outlining
  • text markers
  • updated autoscript
  • auto-highlighting of matching parentheses
  • splitter bars

PocketBuilder 3.0

Code Name: Mothra
Expected release: “way off” (hint: it will leverage the PowerBuilder 12 IDE)

Announced Features

  • Enterprise Messaging (MQ)
  • .NET
  • More Window Mobile-5 support
  • IDE/System Tree enhancements
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