PowerBuilder in your pocket -- Durable platform gets wireless

Wireless computing is much discussed, but seldom seen. The reason could be, at least in part, that deciding which platforms to develop to and which tools to learn is nearly a full-time job. While many ways and means of Web development were quickly standardized, it has not been the same in the wireless sphere.

Thus there may be ready interest in Sybase's new Pocket PowerBuilder beta. The toolset brings wireless plug-ins into the familiar PowerBuilder development environment and initially targets Windows CE-based devices. It provides out-of-the-box synchronization based on SQL Anywhere Studio, and offers the Sybase DataWindow technology to enable dynamic data access for mobile environments.

A lot of the other available wireless tools are based on Java, C and C++, said Marty Mallik, wireless evangelist at Sybase's iAnywhere division. "People have had to learn not only a new development tool, but also a new language," he said.

Programmers Report asked if the number of tools and platforms will not endlessly proliferate. The answer is "no," Mallik indicated.

"Over the last couple of years, things have begun to stabilize, particularly in operating systems and architecture. We've seen a few operating systems come into the forefront. It has come down to Windows CE, Palm and the Symbian OS," he said. "We've also seen a move to smart client approaches." In these approaches, you build and deploy to a device that will typically have an on-board mobile database.

"With these architectures, you can do what you need to do without [always] worrying about wireless access," Mallik said. Users interact with the data; when they need to, they can synchronize with "home base," blasting changes back to the enterprise system.

Mallik added that the Java-related product activity he'd seen to date was largely in cell phones, which tend to focus on the consumer audience.

With the advent of the J2ME standard, applications will become more robust, and Java technology will become more apparent in handheld devices that are more likely to have uses for business, suggested Mallik.

Beta program information can be found online at


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About the Author

Jack Vaughan is former Editor-at-Large at Application Development Trends magazine.


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