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Editorial: PowerBuilder 11.5 Is on the Way . . .

Now is the time to get involved

As I write this, the PowerBuilder 11.5 beta is officially opened. If you're at all interested in upgrading, particularly to improve the "eye-candy" aspect of your applications, now is the time to get involved. If you wait until after the product has been released and find that there are some key component of the new features that you feel is essential but missing, you'll have only yourself to blame. Getting involved in the beta is your avenue to affect the product direction and ensure that the new functionality meets your specific needs. To register for the beta, go to http://xrl.us/pb115beta.

Sybase has made some departures from earlier betas. We're getting more frequent incremental releases, which I for one greatly appreciate. Sybase has also announced fairly publicly what would be in this release long before the beta opened. In the past, the exact feature set for the release was a closely guarded secret right up through the product release. Dave Fish (one of Sybase's technical evangelists) had been blogging on the new features as well at http://powerbuilderevangelist.blogspot.com/. In fact, I'm going to steal some of the images from his blog for this editorial.

The public discussion of the pending new features is, I believe, another good practice. In particular, it should help you decide up front if there are features you find interesting so you'll participate. I'm going to briefly cover the major ones here, to try to convince you that you should get involved.

DataWindow Enhancements

  • 3D graphs: We've been complaining about PowerBuilder's circa Excel 3.0 style charts since, well, probably since the Excel 3.0 days. Maybe not that long, the Graph DataWindow wasn't introduced until PB 3.0 (1993), and Excel 3.0 came out in 1990. The earliest enhancement request I could find in the ISUG system for charts was the one I entered just after TechWave 2004. However, it's been a bane for PowerBuilder developers for a long time. The good news is that 11.5 added several new 3D graphing styles (Figure 1). You'd hardly recognize these as coming from a PowerBuilder app!
  • Gradient/Translucency/Background Images: DataWindow foregrounds and backgrounds, as well as individual DataWindow controls, have gradient and translucency options now. You can also specify a background image for the DataWindow object and control various aspects of how it's displayed, including its translucency (Figure 2).
  • Tooltips: The DataWindow object now supports tooltips that can (at the time of this writing) support both a standard and a bubble tooltip (Figure 3).
  • Rich Text Edit Style for Columns: One of my personal favorites, the DataWindow selects the rich text column directly with the other columns in the select, and the rich text style is just another edit style. No more messing around with SELECTBLOB/UPDATEBLOB in the background and stuffing a rich text control on top of the DataWindow (Figure 4). (Don't blame Dave, this rather ugly window is all mine.)

Database Support Enhancements

  • Oracle 11g Driver: Not only supports 11g, but adds new features such as additional OCI functionality, connection and session pooling, client result caching, load balancing, proxy user and additional data type support.
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Driver: Not only supports SQL Server 2008, but adds support for additional data types, additional SQL statements, and increased CLR support.

.NET Support Enhancements

  • Language interoperability enhancements: Adds support for functions for primitive and enumerated types and allows instance references to static members of .NET classes.
  • Code Access Security (CAS) support: Allows you to configure security zones for .NET targets.
  • IIS 7 Support: Native support for IIS 7 rather than relying on running in IIS 6 compatibility mode.
  • Strong named assemblies: Direct support for creating strong named assemblies.
  • Shared Objects: Are now supported in the .NET Web Form and Windows Form target types.

Miscellaneous Enhancements

  • PNG file support: Images in the PNG file format are now supported for menus, toolbars, picture controls, etc.
  • Transaction object enhancements: Two new events (SQLPreview and DBError) have been added to the transaction object to provide the same capability for embedded SQL that similar events have provided for use with DataWindow-generated SQL.
  • Federal Desktop Core Configuration (FDCC) Support: The FDCC requires that applications be capable of operating in standard user context without elevated system administration privileges.
  • Silent Install: The PowerBuilder IDE can now be installed and uninstalled in silent mode.

Hopefully one or more of these new features caught your attention. If not, did I mention that they're raffling off a PlayStation 3?

See you in the beta forums....

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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