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Where Do You Go for PowerBuilder Info?

How to get up to speed with more recent versions of PowerBuilder

I've had a number of requests from people in the last few days wondering how to get up to speed with more recent versions of PowerBuilder. Their requests are often in the form of:

"I've been using PowerBuilder since version X (a very early release) and we're currently on version Y (usually 10.5 or earlier). We want to move to 12.0. How do we catch up with the new features of PowerBuilder?"

Usually this is accompanied by a request for information on any books that might be available, or perhaps even a comment that it's hard to follow some of my more recent articles about 12.1 because it assumes the reader is already somewhat fluent with many .NET concepts.

A short time ago, someone also commented in the newsgroups that while they liked Sybase working hard to add improvements to PowerBuilder.NET, they also wanted to see information about the new product, sample code, white papers, instructional videos, etc., pooled together in a single location. So I thought I'd try to address some of those concerns by gathering together all of the knowledge sources I know of and would recommend to learn more about newer versions of PowerBuilder.

What I would note first is that it won't include any books. The last books published about PowerBuilder that I know of were the two SAMs book on PowerBuilder 9, one of which I served as a co-editor for. There are a number of factors that make publishing a technical book in the current environment problematic:

  1. The lead time it takes to write a book. PowerBuilder 9 was released in March of 2003, but the SAMs PowerBuilder 9 books did not hit bookshelves until August of that year. Such a long time between the release of a product and a book on that product will diminish demand for the book.
  2. The amount of innovation that Sybase is adding between versions at a fairly rapid pace - 18 months - compared to the roughly three-year cycle for products like Visual Studio or Microsoft Office. This means that a new major version of PowerBuilder would be available shortly after the book was released; as a result the book would have less value because it doesn't cover the additional significant features in the new release.
  3. The amount of information that is available online for little or no cost and is more easily updated when additional features are added to the product. The sheer amount of information available online has greatly diminished demand for a wide variety of print media such as magazines, newspapers, and books (particularly technology books).

All of these argue against any major publishing house being willing to risk the rather large printing run they need to be able to do to justify publishing the book at all. About the best that could be hoped for is for someone to decide to take on such an effort as a "print-on-demand" project through something like CreateSpace (https://www.createspace.com/). Such a publishing option avoids the large printing run a large publishing house requires. It also allows for a book to be updated as major new features are added to the product, sometimes prior to a major release (such as the support for OLE Controls that was added in the 12.1 maintenance release).

With regard to the amount of .NET knowledge that some of my more recent PBDJ articles require, all I can offer in defense is that when I don't explain a concept in detail in a recent article (e.g., CCW), it's because I covered it in earlier articles (or TechWave presentations) that I usually reference in the current article. The latest article I did on using PowerBuilder.NET assemblies from PowerBuilder Classic was at least the fourth article that discussed the use of COM Callable Wrappers.

With my apologies and caveats out of the way now, on to the list of resources I promised you.

Magazines

  • PBDJ: Well, obviously! I've got a whole series of articles on the new features of PowerBuilder 12 and 12.1 already written and in the publishing pipeline, and am working on others. Also, Yakov Werde of eLearnIT has become a regular contributor and writes extensively on PowerBuilder 12.
  • ISUG Technical Journal: While not specifically a PowerBuilder magazine (they cover all Sybase products), they quite frequently run PowerBuilder articles. A free subscription to the journal is one of the benefits of ISUG membership at the Gold level.

Blogs

Non-Sybase:

  • Mine!: You'll often find me posting shorter pieces there that don't justify their own article in PBDJ, or are time-sensitive enough that they can't wait for the print cycle.
  • Yakov Werde: I've mentioned him before, and I'm going to mention him again later. But he also posts shorter or time-sensitive items on his blog.

Sybase:

  • PowerBuilder blog: This is where the PowerBuilder Evangelists Dave Fish and John Strano post.
  • Paul's Postings: While not technically an evangelist (he's a Principal Systems Consultant), Paul Horan writes his own share of posts about PowerBuilder 12 on his blog.

Online Training

  • eLearnIt: I told you I was going to mention Yakov one more time. He's a managing partner of eLearnIt, which has partnered with ISUG to provide online training for PowerBuilder 11.5 and 12 (http://my.isug.com/p/cm/ld?fid=124 ).

Webcasts

  • Sybase: Sybase maintains a list of the webcasts they've done on the Resources page for the PowerBuilder product. That page also has links for white papers, case studies, etc.
  • ISUG: ISUG has also hosted a number of PowerBuilder webcasts and has archives available.
  • PowerBuilder.TV: Quite a number of archived webcasts are available, with an extensive number still planned; perhaps half are by Sybase, the other half are usually from third-party vendors. Unique to this set of webcasts are the availability of webcasts done in languages other than English (primarily French and Spanish).

Newsgroups/Forums

  • Sybase: I'd recommend using a regular NNTP newsgroup reader (e.g., Agent) rather than the web-based interface that Sybase provides. One thing I would not recommend is using Google Groups. Posting through Google Groups to the Sybase forums has always been problematic, and currently is not working. More recently, there are real problems with its search capability. For example, it will return several pages of results, but won't allow you to navigate beyond the first page. Worse of all, Google Groups ability to read the Sybase newsgroup broke some time ago so a lot of the content in their archive is well out of date.
  • Stackoverflow: I'm beginning to see a lot more traffic for PowerBuilder-related questions, and I like some of the features of their web-based interface (not the least of which is the fact that it is searchable in the regular Google archive).

User Groups

  • ISUG: The release of PowerBuilder 12 (or the availability of technical evangelists to promote it) seems to have triggered a resurgence in PowerBuilder user group meeting activity. Check the ISUG web site for upcoming events in your area.
  • TechWave:  I found the most recent TechWave to be a bonanza of information on the latest version of PowerBuilder. So much that I suffered a bit from the "drinking from the fire hose" phenomena and had to review the videos I recorded of the sessions to glean all the content that was being provided. What is going to happen to TechWave in 2011 as a result of the SAP acquisition of Sybase is still up in the air, but I'm hopeful that whatever new form it takes it will still provide the same rich content.

Other Resources

  • ISUG NFR License: One of the other benefits of Gold membership in ISUG is access to NFR (not for resale) licenses of the latest version of many Sybase products, including PowerBuilder. If you want to learn something about the latest copy, get an NFR copy and start playing with it. You can't legally deploy production apps with it, but you can figure out what all the excitement is about. (An NFR copy of PowerBuilder is also provided in the eLearnIt/ISUG training mentioned earlier.)
  • Novalys PB Newsletter: Novalys does a great job of gathering resources like what I've just listed and sending out a monthly collection of what is new (recent PBDJ articles, upcoming webcasts, etc.).

That's my list; perhaps you've got some others I've overlooked. Perhaps sometime after the smoke clears from the SAP acquisition we might see the re-architecting of the Sybase Developer Network that has been in the rumor mill for some time. I'd like to see information such as I've listed collected there, as well as a more modern web-based interface to discussion groups (including the ability to rate responses) and a code sharing area (something like a lighter version of the older CodeXchange repository, not necessarily offering project hosting, just file sharing). Until then, I hope you found this useful.

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
cromedome 01/18/11 02:35:00 PM EST

Thank you! This is a great list you put together.

I really liked the forums that existed for the PB12 beta testing. I wish that/hope that corporate culture at SAP allows the PB group to set up something similar again. The newsgroups are just so not approachable.

Perhaps some of us (/me raises hand) should bite the bullet and set up a community-run site? Would there be any interest?

Cheers!
Jason