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Vote Early: Vote Often!

Vote Early: Vote Often!

For your favorite candidate? For the local propositions? Yes. But I'm suggesting that you also vote early and often on ISUG enhancement requests, particularly those involving PowerBuilder.

Why? Because it's one more avenue we can all use to help influence the direction of the product.

If you've ever used Sybase's CaseXpress system to submit enhancement requests, you've discovered that it doesn't offer much in the way of feedback. That doesn't mean Sybase isn't acting on the request; it just means that CaseXpress doesn't offer any means for you to see what action they are taking. That doesn't mean I don't recommend using it as well. I recommend using every avenue possible.

The sybase.public.powerbuilder.futures.discussions section on the Sybase newsgroups has a somewhat similar issue. Its primary advantage is that it allows for an ongoing discussion, one in which Sybase engineers occasionally participate. You get a feel for how popular a particular request is, the idea gets worked out a bit, and in some cases you know that somebody at Sybase is aware of it. But there's usually no official feedback on the progress. Nonetheless, it's another avenue that I recommend for influencing product direction.

The enhancement section on the ISUG Web site has two main advantages over these other two avenues:

  • It allows for voting on the enhancement requests. You can tell at a glance both how many people think the enhancement is a good idea and just how important they think it is.
  • It provides for official feedback from Sybase on the status of the enhancement.
Of course, there is some room for improvement:
  • Although it shows who has commented on a request, there's no indication who originated it or any timestamp information about when the request was made or commented on.
  • Although you can submit an enhancement request without being an ISUG member, you have to be a member to vote on requests. In fact, you can't even view the requests without being a member.
  • It's not being used to its fullest extent...
I think those last two issues are somewhat interrelated and ISUG is working on addressing that issue. In particular, it might encourage people to get involved if they could at least view the pending requests.

However, they bear only half of the responsibility for correcting that last issue. You and I bear the other half. Yes, it requires a membership ($75 per year for an individual). That might not be much to ask if the process really works.

I think the other issue is that a lot of the tools folks still consider ISUG to be a database-centric organization and don't bother joining. That's a self-fulfilling prophecy though. ISUG will balance out only when a significant number of tools folks get involved. That is, if ISUG is too database-focused, then it's up to the tools folks to correct that.

Join up, get involved, and start voting. Start submitting enhancement requests of your own as well. I've already submitted quite a number from my previous column on GUI improvements, my notes on the enhancements panel at TechWave 2004, and from some of the threads in the sybase.public.powerbuilder.futures.discussions group. If you want to make sure that PowerBuilder continues to meet your development needs, you need to start letting Sybase know what those needs are. Use all the options available to you to do that: CaseXpress, the newsgroups, and the ISUG enhancements process.

Till next month...

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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