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PowerBuilder: Article

An Updated History of PowerBuilder

How it all began . . .

I have been asked many times by various clients, students, and the IT curious about PowerBuilder: When did Sybase develop the product and how did it evolve? I keep telling this story and answering e-mails on the subject. I am now to the point where I have decided that I should have PBDJ formally publish this story for posterity. This story is solely from my own personal perspective and I'm sure that I may have a somewhat distorted view of time and space (which keeps getting worse at my age). But anyway, here is a perspective of how life (as a DataWindow) began.

Episode I - The Phantom Product
In a galaxy, far, far away... before Sybase... PowerBuilder was developed as a prototype by Cullinet Database Systems of Boston. Cullinet was the developer of the IDMS DBMS and ADS-Online (Application Development System). IDMS was originally developed by BF Goodrich, the tire company, in London, Ontario, Canada, and sold to Cullinane (that later changed their name to Cullinet) located in Boston, Massachusetts. They had an early PC product called "Golden Gate," which proved that you could do GUI client/server application development with mainframe DBMSs. Originally DOS based, Golden Gate was then converted to run under MS Windows. Cullinet also realized that PC-based DBMSs and development tools were on the immediate horizon (1984). Cullinet had an enormous success with ADS-Online (327x-based RAD development tool) and wanted to see if a similar GUI-based tool could be developed. The main features of ADSO included RAD; real-time design, programming, compiling, and debugging; and interactive prototyping. It also used a centralized Data Dictionary, interfaced with various CASE tools, and could deploy to production from development.

In 1984, when I was the technical support manager for Cullinet Canada, Cullinet started their Personal Computer ADSO prototype, which would later become PowerBuilder. The project leader was Dave Litwack, who was in charge of the ADSO product and IDMS-DC (data communications - teleprocessing system and CICS equivalent product). Dave had a great understanding of RAD development tools and telecommunications because of his Cullinet experience. The new product was to have the same key functionality as ADSO (interesting that ORCA was basically working in 1985 in the PowerBuilder prototype because ADSO/IDMS had it), but also added a real key feature: "a smart data aware object." At that time Cullinet was experimenting with a feature called LRF (Logical Record Facility) and DB stored procedures. This object would encapsulate data handling away from the application, but would be a client piece, so there was no dependency on any DBMS.

More Stories By Chris Pollach

Chris Pollach is a Senior Consultant with over 30 years experience in Systems and Software Analysis, Development, Maintenance and Technical Support, mainly in the areas of GUI Design, MS-Windows Programming, Java / .NET Programming, Wireless, Application / Web Server Design & Programming, Object Oriented Development Tools and Methodologies, Data Base, Data Communications and Network application development. He has participated in numerous technical, planning and management roles, as well as consulted and educated in these fields for a diverse clientele. He is also the owner of “Software Tool & Die Inc.” a company dedicated to provide custom software and education solutions on Object Oriented business systems.

As an educator, Chris is certified to teach PowerBuilder (first in Canada), MS-SQLServer, Sybase’s Enterprise Application Studio and EAServer integrated application/web development environment. He is former Certified SilverStream developer (CSSD) and current Certified PowerBuilder Developer – Associate / Professional (CPD-P) as well as a Certified Sybase Tools Instructor (CSI).

Chris has written numerous articles in various popular personal computer magazines, newsletters and is the author of the PowerGuide and PowerExpert products as well as the STD Foundation Classes. Currently, Chris has developed a Foundation Class library for Sybase's PocketBuilder, SAP's PowerBulder and EAServer products and now Appeon Web & mobile products that integrates JSP or ASP web development, Section 508 / CLF web standards and mobile applications. A new Web Service framework has also been released for IIs to support PowerBuilder based web service NVUO's!

Chris recently became a 2nd Degree Black in the TaeKwonDo martial art and has developed a Martial Art multimedia study guide using the Component-One “Doc2Help” and Sybase PowerBuilder products. Since the fall of 2004 he became a TaeKwonDo instructor for the City of Ottawa’s Goulbourn program. He has also been certified with the World TaeKwonDo Federation (February 2005 - 1st Dan and October 2008 - 2nd Dan).

Chris was awarded the Sybase “Innovation and Achievement” award for 2005 as voted for by the International Sybase User Group (ISUG). This award was presented for innovations to the PocketBuilder mobile development product, contributions to the PowerBuilder News groups and support of the Ottawa Sybase User Group.

To round his management and leadership skills, Chris is the former president of the Kiwanis Club of Goulbourn and still volunteers his time with the service clubs in his area. He is also the coordinator of the Ottawa Sybase User group and a certified NAUI scuba instructor. For the last three years, Chris has been voted onto the ISUG Board of Directors and holds the position of "Director - North American User Groups".

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