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Perhaps You Can Teach an Old Dog a New Trick Or Two…

If you’ve ever had training from Yakov, you’ll know he provides a great depth of technical information

Struggling to get familiar with the new PowerBuilder.NET IDE and the technology it allows you to use (e.g., WPF, REST, WCF and the rest of the alphabet soup)? Then you should run, not walk, over to the free eTutorial series that Sybase just made available for PowerBuilder 12.5.

The training was put together by Yakov Werde. Yakov, for those who may not have heard of him, is the managing partner of eLearnIT LLC. Prior to that he spent more than 10 years as a trainer for Sybase, teaching classes on PowerBuilder, Java and .NET. And before that he was a software developer like you and me using PowerBuilder. So he knows of what he speaks. (Yakov is also a regular author for PowerBuilder Developer's Journal and the ISUG Technical Journal, a member of TeamSybase and a PowerBuilder MVP.)

As the term "eTutorial" implies, this is an online series. All you need to use to take the training is a browser, an Internet connection and monitor, and some speakers. However, you'll want to have a copy of PowerBuilder.NET (included as part of PowerBuilder 12.5) available at some point to practice what you learn. If you don't already have a copy of PowerBuilder 12.5 you can download a 45-day evaluation version at http://www.sybasepowerbuilder.com/

Alternatively, a non-expiring personal use version of PowerBuilder 12.5 is one of the benefits of a Green or Gold membership in ISUG, so you may want to consider that as well or instead of the evaluation version: http://my.isug.com/p/bl/et/blogaid=317&source=1

Did I mention the training is FREE? It is! There is an "in-app" style additional purchase option for the lab exercises at a very reasonable price. I'd highly recommend that. There's only so much you can learn from listening to someone lecture, no matter how good they are. You learn significantly more if you go hands on and put into practice what you're learning. I think the lab exercises are a must if you really want to follow Yakov through the practical application of the material he's covering.

I must also warn you though, the material is extensive. While that's a good thing, there is one downside. In some of the previous training courses that Yakov has put together, one very nice feature is that you could stop the training at some point and then pick up where you left off some time later, even on a different machine. Given that you don't log in to this training, I suppose it would be difficult for it to remember who you are to support that. There is a bookmarking feature, so that you could capture a link to the location you're stopping at. But that's a much more manual process (you have to remember to do it), and I found that while it works in Internet Explorer, I couldn't get it to work with Firefox or Chrome.

Aside from that minor annoyance, the material is great. Yakov was always one of the instructors that you hoped would be doing your sessions when you were taking classroom sessions, and I'm very glad he's still actively involved in providing PowerBuilder training.

Did I mention it was extensive? My summary of the duration (in minutes) of the various sections as follows:

  • IDE and Methodology - 115
  • Cloud Services and REST - 60
  • WPF
    Overview - 15
    XAML Syntax - 30
    Layout Managers - 54
    Controls - 20
    Data Binding - 30
    Resources - 30

That's roughly 6 hours of training, minus the lab exercises. That might sound like something you could sit through in one day, but I don't think you could really do it without your brain exploding. I found I was only able to give it about a half hour to an hour a day just because of my hectic schedule. Of course the great thing about an eTutorial is that you can do that. Just give it whatever time you have and as often as you can. The instructor is always there ready to pick up where you left off. If this was a classroom-led instruction, I'd estimate that there's at least a week's worth of material here (assuming a couple of hours training in the morning and lab exercises in the afternoon).

If you've ever had training from Yakov, you'll know he provides a great depth of technical information, not just regurgitating the user manual at you. I think I was particularly impressed that he included a demonstration of how to use the Fiddler proxy tool (a free utility from Microsoft) to debug web services. That's not something a lot of instructors would think to include. In a number of places there are references that you can follow to gain additional information. Sometimes it's a book recommendation and clicking on the picture of the book will take you directly to Amazon.com if you wish to purchase it.

What's this all have to do with old dogs? Well, to tell you the truth when I went to take a look at the eTutorial I was expecting to see how good it might be for training others. I wasn't really expecting to learn anything from it myself. I've been working with .NET since 2003 and with Visual Studio since before there was a .NET (primarily C++). One of my main focuses for the last several years has been web services, so I'm quite comfortable with WCF and REST. Although it hasn't been one of my main focuses lately, I've had enough experience with WPF that I wasn't expecting to get much out of an introductory lesson. Well this old dog learned quite a few new tricks from this series. If I can learn something from it with as much experience as I have with these technologies, you certainly stand to learn a lot from this training if you are new to all of it.

It's free (aside from a nominal charge for the lab exercises) and it is extensive. What are you waiting for?

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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