PowerBuilder Authors: Chris Pollach, Yakov Fain, RealWire News Distribution, Al Soucy, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: PowerBuilder

PowerBuilder: Article

Jaguar Development with PowerBuilder 7

Jaguar Development with PowerBuilder 7

Jaguar Development with PowerBuilder 7
By Michael J. Barlotta
A Manning publication
Publication date: August 1999
Format: Softbound, 550 pages
ISBN: 188477786
Price: $35.96 from the publisher at www.manning.com/Barlotta2/index.html
or for the same price at www.amazon.com (ships in 24 hours)

I must admit to having been a little remiss regarding this book. I've been intending to review it since its debut at TechWave last August, but I never got around to it. Fortunately the book is just as applicable today as when it first came out. Though we now have EAServer 3.5, the core features of that version are the same as those of EAServer 3.0, which was the version used when this book was written.

Regular PBDJ readers should be very familiar with the author of Jaguar Development with PowerBuilder 7, Mike Barlotta. He's been contributing to PBDJ nearly every month for over a year. Though thankful that Mike's a contributor to this magazine, I'm being objective in my review of his book. If it were not a good book and of value to our readers, I wouldn't be publishing this review.

Writing Style
Before discussing the content, let me make a brief comment about the writing style and clarity of the text. Nothing's worse than picking up a book that looks interesting, only to find that it's poorly written and hard to understand. I've tossed quite a few books like that in the garbage: this, however, isn't one of them. Mike has authored several books before and has proven himself a good author with a clear writing style and great skill at explaining complex technical issues. (For an example of his style be sure to read his article elsewhere in this issue.) If you're interested in the content of this book you certainly won't be disappointed by the writing style and clarity.

Target Audience/Level
The foreword indicates that this book is targeted at PowerBuilder developers and technical managers. Nevertheless, about half the book would be beyond anyone who does not have moderate PB skills. Mike doesn't explain things like how to create nonvisual objects or how to perform other tasks that you as a PowerBuilder developer should already know how to do. However, when it comes to EAServer concepts he does get detailed, assuming the reader is new to the technology. Though I already knew much of the material, the level wasn't so basic as to cause me to lose interest. I read quickly through the topics I already knew but still picked up new bits of information along the way.

Reference vs Learning
Sybase documentation for Jaguar CTS (EAServer 3.5) includes a System Administration Guide, a Troubleshooting Guide and a Programmer's Guide. As with the other Sybase technical manuals, they're real snoozers, very good for reference but not very good for those who want to learn new concepts and technologies. That's where this book, on the other hand, does very well. Mike walks through the concepts and features from A to Z, gives a reasonably detailed description of each and doesn't try to compete with the reference manuals. Though most PB details and settings are listed, the layout and order of this book make it best as a learning, rather than a reference, tool. It might still be helpful as a reference book, but personally I prefer to use the Sybase manuals for referencing.

Sybase offers two courses (five days total) on EAServer development and administration: "Building Applications Using PowerBuilder and Enterprise Application Server" (EAD310) and "Enterprise Application Server Administration" (EAD51). If you're diving into EAServer development, I recommend taking these courses - particularly the administration course - to help you get off the ground and save time spinning your wheels on things you can learn in the course. Jaguar Development with PowerBuilder 7 acts as a good supplement to those courses. It fills in some of the gaps in what students are taught in the courses and reiterates the teachings they received.

The book's objective is to help make PB client/server developers into PB/ Jaguar CTS developers, so it focuses on Jaguar's features as well as on design differences between client/server objects and distributed components. The content divides into three logical categories: Jaguar CTS administration, PowerBuilder component development, and primers on distributed computing and TCP/IP technology. Fortunately, the primer on distributed computing is brief - I think we've published sufficient articles on this topic to ensure that no PBDJ reader has any questions about distributed architecture concepts.

Jaguar CTS Administration
The book is split evenly between administration of Jaguar and development of components using PowerBuilder. In order to develop components you need a good understanding of how the server works. and Mike provides it by covering installation and setup, administration of servers, packages, components, connection caches and security, as well as instance pooling, connection caching and load balancing. The level of detail is perfect for getting your server set up and making decisions on how it will run.

PowerBuilder Component Development
Fortunately, Mike doesn't rehash design principles that good client/server developers should already be using. Rather he gets right into designing stateless components, database connections (quite different from client/server connections), Jaguar transactions, DataWindow synchronization, error handling, object security, asynchronous processing, shared objects, component life-cycles and more. He also covers the wizards in PB7, which simplify development and deployment of Jaguar components. There are many design issues that can be learned over time by trial and error, and Jaguar Development with PowerBuilder 7 covers them in detail to help you get off to a good start.

Most books of this type come with code that goes along with the examples. This book is no different. Though the book doesn't ship with an accompanying CD, the code is available online at the publisher's Web site ( www.manning.com/Barlotta2). The sample code is reasonably laid out and most helpful in learning the topic. It includes a Hello World' application as well as a simple employee management application. It even includes some code for error logging and client-to-Jaguar communications. You could steal some of that code to get started on your own projects.

One interesting new feature Manning offers is "Author Online," a forum where readers can ask questions of and communicate with Manning authors and other readers. This is no alternative to using the technical support provided on the Sybase EAServer newsgroup but it's an excellent way to get clarifications of the text or assistance from the author with sample code. Kudos to Manning and their authors for providing this service.

Jaguar Development with PowerBuilder 7 is well written and covers all the right topics for PowerBuilder developers moving from client/server to distributed development with EAServer. It's so good that there's no need for anyone to write other books covering this same territory.

Whether you take the Sybase courses or not, I recommend that you buy this book and read through it before you get started developing components. It'll save you experiencing some headaches along the way. It's a good supplement to the Sybase manuals, which you should also have on hand.

Coming soon is the sequel to this book, Taming Jaguar by Mike Barlotta and Jason Weiss. Stay tuned for a review soon after it's released.

More Stories By John Olson

John D. Olson is a principal of Developower, Inc., a consulting company specializing in software solutions using Sybase development tools. A CPD Professional and charter member of TeamSybase, he is co-editor and author of two PB9 books, and the recipient of the ISUG Innovation and Achievement Award for 2003.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.