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The State of PowerBuilder's DataWindow

...and the plans for its future

What's Coming Next in the DataWindow
A New DataWindow Platform
The JSF DataWindow is currently being developed for the Sybase Workspace product. It uses the same engine as the other DataWindow platforms and the underlying functionality of the DataStore. It uses JSF (JavaServer Faces) for the UI component.

The JSF DataWindow has been tested with EAServer, Tomcat, and the Sun application server. Although the database focus will be JDBC, the standard PowerBuilder drivers have been tested.

The PowerBuilder 10.5 DataWindow
Version 10.5 of PowerBuilder will add a TreeView style presentation. The TreeView will leverage the existing group presentation style by adding the ability to collapse and expand groups. Connecting lines between groups and icons for expanding and collapsing can be specified at design time (see Figure 4).

A calendar/datepicker edit style will be added to the Winform DataWindow (see Figure 5).

DataWindow .NET 2.0
The next release of DataWindow.NET will contain all of the PowerBuilder enhancements plus these features:

  1. Access to ADO DataSets and the DataTables within them.
    a.  A Bind model will be supported to act similarly to how a .NET application binds to a .NET DataGrid control.
    b.  The Retrieve/Update model will be supported that will act more like a "classic DataWindow."
  2. We will support Indexer access to the DataWindow buffers. This feature uses a capability of the .NET languages to offer a dot notation style access to the DataWindow data.
Behind the Scenes, DataWindow Engine Refactoring
By the time the DataWindow became 14 years old, it had grown to around 500,000 lines of mixed C and C++ code and was in need of some serious housekeeping. It was becoming increasingly difficult to add new features and extend existing ones. The DataWindow engine's origin was not object-oriented.

The DataWindow engineering team is refactoring the engine code using industry-standard refactoring techniques. We are imposing an object model on the DataWindow engine that leverages existing code. Not everything needs to be rewritten but almost everything needs to be reorganized under a comprehensive object model.

The DataWindow engine is also being modularized to make it easier to work on specific parts of the code without impacting other areas or other engineers.

The end result will be a more robust, easier-to-enhance DataWindow engine (see Figure 6). We hope we will be able to deliver new features and functionality much faster.

DataWindow Futures
The following are ideas that have been discussed within the Data- Window engineering team. Some of these ideas are planned for a future release and some are still in a research stage.

  1. Enhancements to the TreeView presentation style
  2. Continued refactoring - probably in the data handling code
  3. The DataWindow Designer will be a Visual Studio plug-in for DataWindow.NET
  4. Integration with Flash
  5. Predefined wizard-driven report definitions
  6. Allow DataWindow.NET to consume custom business objects as a data source, any object that exposes the Ienumerator/Ilist interfaces
  7. Web services as a data source for the DataWindow
  8. Additional edit styles, leveraging the use of OCXs
    a.  Calculator control
    b.  Rich text control
  9. A multi-presentation style DataWindow control that would allow you to toggle or use tabs to change presentation
  10. Updateable nested DataWindows
The DataWindow has a very rich history and loyal fan base. The DataWindow engineering team is committed to keeping the DataWindow as the crown jewel in the PowerBuilder product and to maintaining a competitive stance with Microsoft and other .NET vendors.

More Stories By David Avera

David Avera is a staff engineer at Sybase Inc.

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