Skip to Content
avatar image
Former Member

Appeon - The Future of PB Webcast Series - Vision - Comments

Just watched the Appeon 'The Future of PB Webcast Series - Vision' webinar. Would be interested to hear what anyone else who saw it thinks. I am writing up the main point for my team, and will add thoughts to this post soon 😊

Add comment
10|10000 characters needed characters exceeded

  • Get RSS Feed

10 Answers

  • Nov 26, 2015 at 04:13 PM

    Hi,


    These are my general thoughts on PowerBuilder's future:


    Native Windows Development with PowerBuilder

    PowerBuilder should improve on what it currently does; provide the development community with a client server development tool for building rich business database driven Win32 applications. PB does a great job integrating the database with the application via the DataWindow. We can easily create edit windows and complex reports with it. Doing the same with other languages takes considerably more effort and resources. It is a great tool for this purpose.

    Many companies have seriously invested in PowerBuilder in the last 20+ years and cannot easily migrate to other tools and languages due to the size of their systems and the complexity involved in programming in a new unfamiliar environment. These companies need to maintain their current Win32 PB applications and possibly develop new ones and they need to take advantage of the new functionality released in each iteration of the Windows API (i.e WinXP, WinVista, Win7, Win8, Win10, etc). So PB should fully adapt to these iterations to allow us to take advantage of new UI options and features.

    I also think many companies will want to stay on the client server architecture even if they can deploy to the web with minimal effort using Appeon. I’m thinking about companies who don’t need to publish their applications on the Internet and who don’t find a real benefit using a browser instead of a native application. From test I’ve done a PB application deployed to the web runs slower than a native Win32 application. This reduction in speed will make companies think whether they want to sacrifice speed for scalability even if they have the benefit of seamless deployment. PB executes really fast and it should stay that way to keep its competitive advantage. I think it is the closest thing to developing in C++, execution speed wise.

    So I believe that in general Win32 PowerBuilder should not be phased out and instead should be improved regarding Windows API adaptability, core functionality (web services consumption, xml document processing, security, etc.), and IDE features and stability.

    Win32 PowerBuilder and .NET

    In my opinion Win32 PowerBuilder should be totally independent of .NET as far as application building and running is concerned. For example, Win32 PB should be able to generate web services proxies and consume web services without the need of the .NET engine or .NET Framework. Doing so will remove many issues concerning .NET compatibility when developing and deploying applications. There are many examples in this forum of people having issues when using a feature that requires the .NET Framework. Frankly, it is embarrassing.

    But that doesn’t mean PB should not interact with .NET. On the contrary, it should continue offering the ability to generate .NET assemblies from PB objects to be used in other .NET applications. And this should be enhanced by adding the ability to specify the CLR version one wants to target (i.e. CLR 1.0, 1.1, 2.0, or 4.0). Calling .NET components using COM wrappers is also necessary to access the .NET Framework and third party .NET components. So I think .NET should be optional and not required for Win32 PB development and deployment.

    PowerBuilder Development with .NET

    Appeon’s vision was made clear at the Webcast in the sense that it sees future PowerBuilder development being done on top of .NET. This is right, in my opinion, due to the extensive support Microsoft has shown to .NET and its clear promotion as its next generation development platform; but most of all, due to its technical aspects (e.g. managed code, security, framework).

    Now, Appeon plans to phase out Powerbuilder.NET in favor of a Visual Studio plugin. Stopping the use of the VS isolated shell makes a lot of sense because it’ll stop PB dependency on Microsoft regarding when and how it chooses to improve the IDE. But in the past years Microsoft has been constantly improving VS so this dependency hasn’t been an issue to this day and I think it’s not the cause of the current problems with PB.NET. The problem in my opinion is that Sybase stopped working on PB.NET and so we stopped receiving improvements. A VS plugin can solve this.

    But we’ll still be dependent on Microsoft for IDE improvements. So I think Appeon should continue working on a proprietary IDE, if economically feasible, to regain full control over its development. This will give PB yet another competitive advantage. For example, does the use of a plugin will mean we won’t be using PB libraries anymore? I believe the use of PBLs is one of PB advantages because it allows us to have a more organized storage environment of our code. Jumping to Visual Studio will make us lose this advantage.

    And instead of a C# conversion I would prefer to have a real CLR compliant PowerScript language that can compile directly to MSIL. I’m not sure if I agree with Appeon’s intention to give us the alternative to use PowerScript or C#, especially if the vision means having PowerScript code converted to C# before being compiled to MSIL. C# is not the core language of .NET. MSIL is. PowerScript.NET should compile directly to MSIL. Or converted to C# and compiled to MSIL as long as we don’t have to deal with C# code, like right now we don’t have to deal with C++ code when using PowerScript.

    “It’s hard to find PowerBuilder developers now days”. The reason for this has nothing to do with the language per se. PowerBuilder the tool lingered for such a long time people lost interest in it for new development projects. Thus, PB programmers became scarce. “There are a lot of C# developers out there”. Well, PowerScript has an easy to read BASIC like syntax with a C++ variable declaration style that makes it easy to learn and use. Experienced C# or VisualBasic.NET programmers with good knowledge of the .NET framework will have no problem learning the new PowerScript.NET. And being already an object oriented language it shouldn’t be hard to create a CLR compliant version of PowerScript. Again, PowerScript is an important competitive advantage and should be kept.

    Deployment of Native Windows PowerBuilder Applications to n-Tier Web using Appeon

    For those companies who want to deploy their current applications to the web with minimal changes Appeon is clearly the best solution by far. In the past weeks I’ve been testing Appeon and frankly I’m impressed on how faithful the application was reproduced in an n-tier web architecture (I used the IIS version of Appeon). Nevertheless Appeon should improve as to reduce the number of unsupported features. The less I have to modify my original application the better because if not I’ll end up using a reduced set of PB features in order to have my application available in both platforms thus reducing its potential.

    Web and Mobile Development using PowerBuilder

    In a perfect world, PowerBuilder should allow us to develop for client server, the web and mobile targeting each specific platform (Win32, .NET, Java, iOS, Android, WinOS, etc.) But in a cross platform development strategy like the one Appeon envisions we are forced to use a reduced set of functions in order to have our applications available on all platforms. We thus end up using the lowest common denominator set of features from all supported platforms. This is not good and should be seriously reconsidered.

    I believe we should be able to target specific platforms when developing with PowerBuilder to get full advantage of each platform. Nevertheless, the argument for a cross platform development environment is attractive money wise, especially to administrative managers who want to do the most with the least. If they don’t mind having a sub par application as long as it can be accessed from all platforms then a cross platform solution is a good bet. But I agree we should be able to target web and mobile platforms one way or another. The way it should be done I think depends on the market Appeon is targeting.


    BR,

    Ricardo


    Add comment
    10|10000 characters needed characters exceeded

    • Former Member Former Member

      I am with David and Chris on this one.  Little to no interest from clients in a native mobile deployment. Very interested in how to modernize our client/server applications and improve deployment.  The real priority is for a HTML 5 deployment option for our systems employee self service component as we are getting by with the web datawindow and it doesn't work well you need more than 1 datawindow on a single page to be updated.

      Tell you the truth if we had a decent RAD html5 deployment we could look at dropping the client/server component altogether like many of our competitors.

      Regards Michael

  • avatar image
    Former Member
    Oct 29, 2015 at 09:29 AM

    Hi.

    I believe they have a vision. But I don't know, and it's not clear to me, if there is a final agreement between SAP and Appeon. I hope there is.

    Also, they seem to be ready to do a huge investment... I would like to know if this would affect prices...

    Also all they said, was interesting, but it was mostly theoretical.

    They seem to give attention the community, and I would recommend all of us to try and participate to upcoming webcasts.

    Andreas.

    Add comment
    10|10000 characters needed characters exceeded

    • Former Member

      We understand that not all companies using PB are large organizations with deep pockets, and also we are aware there is a sizable community of independent consultants around PB.  We will carefully consider these points.  Our goal is to cater to as many PB customers as possible rather than just a select few companies.

  • avatar image
    Former Member
    Oct 29, 2015 at 09:56 AM

    Hi Aron;

      The webcast for North America is still pending for later today (12:00am EST & 9:00am PST). I would imagine that Armeen might like everyone to wait until he completes the webinar in that time zone first.

    Regards ... Chris

    Add comment
    10|10000 characters needed characters exceeded

    • Former Member

      Okay, that's fair. Hopefully we'll be allowed to discuss it then. I am especially interested in what you think Chris 😊

  • avatar image
    Former Member
    Nov 04, 2015 at 08:30 AM

    Thank Armeen for the discussion go ahead. So here's some of my thoughts.

    Firstly I was surprised how my fellow Powerbuilder developers in my office were not interested at all. I'm not really sure why, but perhaps the long wait for news has left them feeling disenfranchised, or maybe there's not enough details yet to get a grip on things.

    It sounded to me like Appeon were saying the following:

    * Powerbuilder classic will be gone

    * Powerbuilder .NET lives, but not in the way it was first released, i.e. a tool that converts Powerscript to C# and then compiles it, but as, I'm guessing, a Powerscipt .NET language and a Datawindow .NET plug-in

    * Existing applications will need to be converted and Appeoon hope to do a better job with this than Sybase did

    Other stuff, like in-built PDF support, datawindow improvements to an MVC type of model (I've never understood why a datawindow wasn't inherited from a datastore, but probably too late to fix that)

    All this sounds great to me, .NET is an excellent language, and Visual Studio a great IDE (once it has started, it is pretty slow to start!). Many of the things I've wanted for some time would naturally occur, e.g. a less crashy IDE, no PBLs, proper datawindow debugger tools, better web services support.

    But it does depend on one huge thing, we need to be able to easily convert our existing applications, and this will be the difficult bit. Our main application has been around for a while, it calls external dlls, it uses OLE to integrate with Word, Excel and Outlook, it calls any number of Windows API calls, it integrates with .NET by wrapping the .NET code as COM objects, it has sneaky things that affect the main menu. I can't imagine how hard it would be to automatically convert all of these. So good luck Appeon, I really hope you can do it as that would be great!

    From a business point of view I wonder what Appeon's ideas are for keeping Powerbuilder alive. My guess is it's the datawindow. I think the datawindow has fallen behind other similar controls in many ways. There was talk in the webinar of enhancing the datawindow and I am looking forward to seeing what kinds of things they are thinking of as this will be essential (I think).

    What do you think?

    Add comment
    10|10000 characters needed characters exceeded

    • Former Member Former Member

      Thanks Armeen,

      I missed that bit, if it was in the webinar.

      I'm glad-ish that PB Classic will be supported for some time to come. It would be nice if we could switch to Visual Studio and PB.NET+ right away, converting all our applications seamlessly, but it does sound like that's unlikely in the near term 😊 I really hope you guys can pull that off though as it would make life interesting, for me at least!

      Some things that I think would be useful for all of this to work are:

        * White papers galore on best practices with the new .NET code

        * Explanations on how to connect and use various common source control systems (no more PBLs hurrah)

        * Somewhere to store code samples so we can share things with each other

        * Email newsletters with hints and tips

      I'm sure you guys have thought about this already, looking forward to more news.

  • Oct 29, 2015 at 09:33 AM

    Hi Aron

    I'm doing just the same internally.

    Not sure we should be discussing this in public Appeon did put up a confidentiality disclaimer at the start.

    Perhaps Armeen can clarify this and say if he is happy for us to discuss this on this forum?

    Cheers

    David

    Add comment
    10|10000 characters needed characters exceeded

    • Former Member

      Hi David and Aron,

      We really appreciate you guys checking first.  Yes, the purpose of the legal disclaimer was to prevent people from re-posting the video or its contents on other sites.  The intention was not to prevent active discussions on SCN.

      We  hope everybody will first watch the recorded versions of the PB Vision and Roadmap Webcasts and read the related FAQs carefully.  The reason being, we want to avoid unproductive discussions or people perpetuating misconceptions on the newsgroups, which is actually doing a disservice to the PB community.

      Also, we hope more people will participate in the upcoming Webcasts rather than watching the recordings. During the Webcast we will be conducting polls, engaging in live Q&A, and after the Webcast we will reach out to interested people to have deeper discussions.  As such, active participation is very important.

      We look forward to some exciting times ahead for PowerBuilder!

      Thanks,

      Armeen Mazda

      CEO, Appeon Corporation

  • avatar image
    Former Member
    Oct 29, 2015 at 09:44 AM

    While I await whether we are allowed to post our thoughts on the details I will say the following. I was a bit disappointed, there was very little detail, and it sounds like there is a long way to go. I suppose I should have expected that, but it just feels we've been waiting so long.

    Add comment
    10|10000 characters needed characters exceeded

    • Former Member

      Details are coming in the other Webcasts.  First step was to make sure everybody had the right understanding about who Appeon and what is our vision for the the long-term direction that of PowerBuilder. 

      We appreciate that the PB community has been waiting so long.  This wait was not under Appeon's control, and we are preparing to pick up the pieces to bring positive change.  So we hope the PB community will be supportive of our efforts rather than lash out their frustrations against us. 

      Thank you all in advance for your support and understanding during this critical process!

  • avatar image
    Former Member
    Oct 29, 2015 at 12:07 PM

    Hi,

    I've missed the webinar this morning.

    Where can I register for the event this eveneing (at 9:00 am PST)?

    Thanks and best regards.

    Heiko

    Add comment
    10|10000 characters needed characters exceeded

  • avatar image
    Former Member
    Oct 29, 2015 at 05:24 PM

    Well it's a shame we haven't heard whether we can discuss the webinar in here yet.  I was really hoping for a good buzz, and listening to everyone's thoughts. I hope we hear something soon.

    Add comment
    10|10000 characters needed characters exceeded

    • Former Member Former Member

      Aron is not alone!  Many people's head spin thinking about all the possible implications.  This is why although some people have criticized us about the presentation lacking details, we intentionally wanted the first Webcast to just put out the vision.

      We need to give everybody a proper chance to digest, ask questions/discuss, etc. about the vision!  Details will come in the future Webcasts as Andreas pointed out, and we plan to continue regularly communicating with the community.

  • avatar image
    Former Member
    Oct 30, 2015 at 10:29 AM

    I hope it gets uploaded soon because due to work I was not available at the time of the presentation.

    Add comment
    10|10000 characters needed characters exceeded

    • Former Member

      A recording of the PB Vision Webcast along with an FAQ is now available.  To gain access please fill out the form at http://www.appeon.com/PBfuture You will receive an email with login credentials to access these materials.

      Also, we hope more of you will participate in the upcoming Webcasts. Your participation is key to shape the future roadmap of PowerBuilder!

      Thank you for your time and interest.

  • avatar image
    Former Member
    Nov 05, 2015 at 09:32 AM

    Here;s the answer to my question during the webinar (thanks Appeon for answering the questions) in case anyone is interested 😊

    Q: I guess if PB became a first class .NET language then the reason to use it would be the big thing. So what features will your PB.NET have that would make it attractive, and I don't think the datawindow is enough. although the PFC or similar may be?

    This is a fantastic question.  You are absolutely right that we should not put all our hopes on DataWindow.  The component market is crowded and there are many options, so unless DataWindow is 10X better than the most popular components it will not be enough.  Our direction for C# is to focus on 1) enterprise app development,  2) native technology, and 3) cross-OS.  There are very few vendors having a tight focus on all 3 points.  The most notable would be Xamarin, but they are trying to be everything to everybody rather than focused specifically on enterprise app development using C#. 

    Add comment
    10|10000 characters needed characters exceeded

    • Nacho,

      I personally don't like embedding SQL statements inside PowerScript. I prefer to use datastores that map database tables and work with datastore controls for retrieve and update. But when I do use embedded SQL statements it doesn't bother me having to place a semicolon at the end of the statement because, well, I don't use them very much. But having to include open a close curly brackets in every class definition and semicolons at the end of each sentence is another thing. I believe this comes from original C language design to indicate the compiler when a sentence has terminated. Having the compiler determine when a statement has ended requires more computer power and longer compiler times but now days I don't think that's a problem anymore. So I would go for a more clean syntax like PowerScript specially for business applications.

      Regards,

      Ricardo