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Top 10.5 Reasons to Use PowerBuilder 10.5

Top 10.5 Reasons to Use PowerBuilder 10.5

This month we take an in-depth look at the new features introduced or existing features enhanced in PowerBuilder 10.5. Even though it is not a full point release, it (like 6.5) is a full major release. In order to get many of these enhancements to the user (you and me) sooner, Sybase split off a subset of the original enhancements planned for the 11.0 release. The stuff that is centered around .NET deployment remains in the 11.0 feature set. In the meantime, the features that were not .NET deployment-related are available now.

Sue Dunnell, the Sybase product manager for (among other things) PowerBuilder, discusses her perspective on this new major release in her own column in this same issue. I'd like to give you my own perspective as to why this release is so important. I'll briefly review some of what I believe are the most significant enhancements. In many cases, you'll find a separate article on these features in this issue as well.

1.  Enhanced Menus and Toolbars
The XP visual style support for controls that was added in PowerBuilder 9.0.1 helped modernize the look and feel of PowerBuilder applications. However, it is the XP style menus and toolbars support that 10.5 brings that finally brings PowerBuilder applications into the 21st century.

2.  Updated RTE Control
Not a big deal for those of you who haven't used the control. But for those of us who do, this is a long anticipated enhancement. The new control catches us up with the current RTF spec, adds a number of new features, and essentially loses no existing features.

3.  .NET-Based Web Services/New SoapConnection Object Methods
The complexity of Web services being produced today far exceed the capabilities of the EasySOAP library that Sybase originally used to introduce Web services support into PowerBuilder 9.0. The new .NET implementation of Web services allows PowerBuilder to handle the most complex calls. In addition, the property settings for the SoapConnection object was also cleaned up. Instead of passing in parameters via the SetOptions method in a manner reminiscent of DBParm parameters, each of those properties is now handled through separate methods (e.g., SetSoapLogFile).

4.  Database Tracing
Enhancements to database tracing, originally introduced in PowerBuilder 10.2, provide much greater control and capabilities. It is now possible to trace deployed components and other PowerBuilder-based applications that don't allow user interaction. There is also more control over the location of the trace file and the amount of detail stored in it. There is even a statement-level trace option.

5.  TreeView DataWindow
Perhaps for some, this is one of the most anticipated enhancements. The TreeView DataWindow presentation style does for data entry and display what the new menus and toolbars do for the overall GUI: it brings it into the 21st century. The support for multiple columns of data, in-place editing, and update capabilities puts it in many ways far ahead of what was originally possible with a DataWindow-sourced native TreeView control (i.e., PFC).

6.  Byte Data Type/Decimal Data Type
This has long been a popular request from people dealing with databases that support the byte data type and/or numeric data types with a higher precision than PowerBuilder originally supported. The byte data type is also important for interoperability with .NET and Java, as well as for support in calling certain Windows API functions. The decimal data type is not new, but the precision has been enhanced from 18 to 28 digits.

7.  Autosize Height for All DataWindow Bands
This is probably the enhancement request that has been on the books the longest. I found a request for it in the ISUG enhancement request database from 1999! You can set the property for each band in the DataWindow painter or at runtime using dot notation or a Modify statement.

8.  DatePicker Control/DropDownCalendar
The new DatePicker control (which includes a TimePicker option as well) is available both as a native control and as a DataWindow edit style.

9.  PBNI Changes
You can now import PBNI extensions directly into an existing PBL (including the system extensions supplied with PowerBuilder, such as SoapConnect, PBDOM, etc.). This reduces the size of the library list for the target and makes source control of the extension easier.

10.  Print Preview Shows Outline
Are you sick of that blue box that shows up on all your DataWindows when you display them in print preview mode? If you are, you don't need to put up with it any longer.

10.5  Suppress GroupHeader After Page Break
Another reporting enhancement - when you have a group that crosses a page break, the headers can be suppressed on the second and later pages.

There are many others - particularly in the area of database connectivity - that I haven't mentioned. I've just focused on the ones that I know will most impact my day-to-day development work, at least initially. As a result, your own list may vary in items or order. But I'm convinced this release is well worth migrating to if you're an existing user or considering if you're in the market for a new development tool.

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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