Sybase woos with slew of tools
- By John K. Waters
Sybase insists that tools play a key role in its strategy to "unwire the enterprise." Data management facilities and wireless tools get much of the focus these days, but according to Sybase technology evangelist Dave Fish, the company can build on its PowerBuilder tool ranks -- estimated at more than 100,000 developers -- to build applications for heterogeneous enterprise environments, and to create a wide range of mobile and wireless enterprise apps.
"We're trying to re-energize our name, and to remind people that we make some great development tools that a lot of people use," Fish told Programmers Report.
In something of a full-court press in that direction, Sybase recently released a new version of its business modeling tool, began shipping an update of its mobile and wireless RAD development tool, unveiled the latest incarnation of its enterprise application server and, for good measure, announced an extended agreement with a wholesaler if its tools suite.
Sybase is billing the 10.0 version of its PowerDesigner modeling tool as "an enterprise-modeling tool that combines business- and technology-centric modeling techniques to foster greater collaboration between business and IT users." The new version is designed to be a single, integrated tool for business process modeling, data modeling, and UML. It supports some of the latest modeling techniques, such as the Model Driven Architecture. And it comes with support for features that enable the Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), including round-trip engineering of Business Process Execution Language for Web Services.
"We designed this tool to incorporate the three modeling techniques: business process modeling, data modeling and UML," said Fish. In addition, they tried to make this version accessible to non-modelers. "The idea was to make it easier for business and IT departments to collaborate on projects," noted Fish.
Meanwhile, Pocket PowerBuilder is Sybase's RAD mobile and wireless application dev tool. The latest version (1.5) includes an IDE, the company's patented DataWindow technology and synchronization capability with MobiLink, available from Sybase's iAnywhere Solutions division.
"IT would probably love to say, 'We've got enough things to worry about without mobile and wireless and the security implications of that,'" Fish said. "But end users are saying that they need this technology, that it's making them much more productive. IT now has mobile and wireless initiatives being sort of pushed on them by the end users."
Pocket PowerBuilder 1.5 comes with hundreds of built-in functions, many ready-to-use components, and drag-and-drop RAD programming features. The DataWindow technology provides developers with processing and presentation specifically targeted at mobile devices, without coding. The tool allows developers to utilize the Sybase MobiLink synchronization feature that employs bi-directional data synchronization to integrate with other enterprise databases, including Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise, IBM DB2, Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle. The tool includes wizard-driven programming features and tight integration with Sybase iAnywhere SQL Anywhere.
This version also includes a new native object that encapsulates operating system and device-specific APIs for a number of fingerprint recognition technologies.
"Our first goal was simply to provide a development environment that allows you to create applications that run on a Pocket PC," Fish said. "We find that the Pocket PC is actually quite a different platform from the desktop, in terms of how it's used. So what we strived for in Version 1.5 was to incorporate a lot of these features that are unique to that device environment."
The company also released a new version of its enterprise application server. EAServer 5.0 comes with fully configurable caching and load-balancing options; new user installation and setup wizards; support for J2EE, PowerBuilder, C/C++ and CORBA components; and new development tooling for Web services.
"A big part of our message is that we want to unwire the enterprise, which isn't so much about going wireless as it is about making data and information available anywhere, anytime," Fish said. "This is an area where we see the potential for a lot of growth."
For more information on Sybase developer tools and the Sybase Developer Network, please visit http://www.sybase.com/developer.
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached