Sybase refashions PowerBuilder; preps 4GL+
- By Jack Vaughan, Will Kilburn
[MARCH 4, 2003/ADT'S PROGRAMMERS REPORT] - DB and tools
maker Sybase has released PowerBuilder 9.0, the latest version of its rapid
application development tool. Available on March 24, Sybase representatives say
Version 9.0 will allow developers to build rich-client applications while expanding their ability to do Web and N-tier development.
The PowerBuilder tool was among the most popular in the
early 1990s. It used elements of so-called 4GLs to encapsulate functions and
allow developers to work at a higher level of abstraction, closer to human
language than machine language. Java had a great effect on the development world beginning in the mid-1990s.
PowerBuilder lost both mindshare and market share to the
new language. But PowerBuilder backers suggest the world may be ready for
another look at 4GLs. In fact, a few Java IDE vendors have begun to support
unique ways of tagging that reduce programming complexity and look suspiciously, to some, like 4GLs in gestation.
''A lot of people wanted to go the [route of] new and
exciting technology, but many have come back,'' said Sue Dunnell, PowerBuilder
product manager at Sybase's Enterprise Solutions Division. ''Java tools have less
drag-and-drop capabilities, and there is more code that you have to write yourself. We consider Java a '3.5 GL.''
She said many PowerBuilder users continue to prototype
in PowerBuilder before deploying in Java, and many existing PowerBuilder apps
need to be integrated with interdepartmental Java apps. Some aspects of the
latest PowerBuilder version address these developers. Also supported: Improved
integration with Sybase's PowerBuilder Designer modeling tool.
But Java is quite prevalent, and aspects of PowerBuilder 9.0 are intended to address this fact. Said Dunnell: ''We're targeting a lot of
developers that need to work with JSPs [Java Server Pages]. Now these folks can
program JSP updates using wizards [to generate tags on the fly] in order to access Web services from JSPs.''
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Jack Vaughan is former Editor-at-Large at Application Development Trends magazine.