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Linux Containers: Article

PowerBuilder Editorial - "There You Go Again"

If that doesn't ring a bell, it's from the Reagan / Carter debates in the 1980 election cycle

If that doesn’t ring a bell, it’s from the Reagan /Carter debates in the 1980 election cycle. Carter had presented a string of criticisms of Reagan’s positions, which Reagan pretty much dismissed with that statement.

Back in the heyday of client/server development, the folks at Borland released a hit piece on PowerBuilder written by a Delphi advocate. You can still find a copy of it as a series of articles on the CodeGear site.

They’ve revised the title so it no longer indicates that it’s comparing PowerBuilder 5.0 and Delphi 2.0. For that matter, even though PowerBuilder 5.0 was out (and compiled to machine code) the benchmark tests in the paper were done using PowerBuilder 4.0. Then again, when you read statements that indicate that PowerBuilder is not object-oriented and does not support inheritance, you’re pretty much left saying “there you go again.” (The statement in the paper is that the PowerScript scripting language is neither of those, neglecting to note that a scripting language wouldn’t and the tool does.)

Why bring up that ancient history? Because currently the folks at IdeaBlade are hosting their own “Moving to .NET from PowerBuilder: A Perspective for Client/Server Developers” white paper, which is a “high-level overview of how PowerBuilder developers can migrate to .NET and smart-client development” using their products. (As an aside, in an earlier editorial on whether RAD is dead, I noted how newer products keep comparing their RAD capabilities to PowerBuilder. The IdeaBlade white paper is no different, another indication that RAD is not dead. Even Microsoft, when promoting their latest version of Visual Studio, makes RAD one of the major selling points.

I think it’s always good to evaluate these white papers because they can contain useful criticism, pointing out areas where the product does need to improve. For example, the Borland paper did note that PowerBuilder didn’t provide exception handling capabilities, something Sybase finally rectified in PowerBuilder 8.0 (and wasn’t supported in machine code compiles until PowerBuilder 10.0).

More Stories By Bruce Armstrong

Bruce Armstrong is a development lead with Integrated Data Services (www.get-integrated.com). A charter member of TeamSybase, he has been using PowerBuilder since version 1.0.B. He was a contributing author to SYS-CON's PowerBuilder 4.0 Secrets of the Masters and the editor of SAMs' PowerBuilder 9: Advanced Client/Server Development.

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Most Recent Comments
Franck Fasolin 07/24/08 10:11:19 AM EDT

I have been using PB for 16 years and I am still waiting for a tool that would let my developer team conceive, develop and maintain applications with as much productivity as PB does. I have been looking to new business applications developement tools hoping those "new" technologies would bring better productivity for my developer team. All I found was just 3GL tools with intelli-sensed text editors and brain-storming conceptual aspects that made conception and developement process very expensive (when not worst). I have been using PowerBuilder for building business applications (win32 and web/HTML) for 10 years, and I made very complex ones within a few days where I would have spend months with other tools. That's the magic of PowerBuilder. That's what I am waiting from other development tools. I don't care about marketting considerations. I am not an "IT technology fashion victim". I want results and I think many IT people should consider this point of view rather that just listening to marketting people from companies that did'nt have good tools in the 90's and that whant to make us believe that our old PB is a bad one just for selling their stuff. Even Sybase did so ! when trying to sell us PowerJ and EAServer instead of focussing on PB.
Long life to PB. I hope there will be some day other tools as good as it so that I can move to IT.
Right now, I agree with you. Let's keep PowerBuilder as our development tool for business application and let's have the ROI our companies need.

Jeff Wayt 07/24/08 07:35:49 AM EDT

This was a fair-and-balanced article that held a humble and open-minded approach to another's biased view. I came away with a better and informed opinion of Powerbuilder for knowing its strengths and weaknesses. Cudos!

Troy 06/09/08 05:05:36 PM EDT

You have to admit (sooner or later) that the Sybase approach to RAD (ie coupling everything) is not the optimal approach nor is anywhere close to what VS does. VS opts to help productivity via code completion. That strong typing that you are not so sure about also prevent many of the runtime errors PBers still get.

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