Click here to close now.


Agile Computing Authors: Philippe Abdoulaye, Mehdi Daoudi, Steve Watts, Bill Szybillo, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Microsoft Cloud, PowerBuilder

Microsoft Cloud: Article

PowerBuilder Takes You To .NET

Preparing PowerBuilder applications for .NET Windows Forms deployment

Remember Win16? Whatever happened to it? Where did it go? It hung around for a while in the Win95/Win98 days alongside Win32 but then it went away. Well, wherever Win16 went, Win32 is going there too. Eventually, .NET will be the "native" Windows desktop technology and WinForm or its descendant will be the primary de facto API.

PowerBuilder is arguably the most productive (read fastest and easiest) .NET development tool on the market today. It doesn't require .NET experience on the part of the developer and the conditional compilation feature allows PowerBuilder applications to be maintained as a single code line for Win32 as well as for .NET deployments.

WinForm Benefits
Well, let's say that your company or your client's hasn't established a requirement, a standard, to move to deploying .NET applications quite yet. "Why should I explore deploying to .NET WinForm? I'm not required to deploy to .NET yet and I'll just end up with another client/server application...right?" The main benefits of deploying PowerBuilder applications as .NET WinForm are twofold: .NET interoperability and .NET Smart Client publishing.

.NET Interoperability
There are some fairly nice things in the .NET Framework. Think about the PowerBuilder projects in the past from which you've made external function calls, to which you added ActiveX/OCX, in which you implemented OLE. Think of the .NET Framework as a big fat external resource of which you'd like to take advantage. You may have a partner, a vendor, a .NET development group in your own company who's developed .NET resources with which you'd like to integrate your PowerBuilder applications. Once you deploy your PowerBuilder applications to WinForm (or WebForm), you can.

Smart Client Publishing
A major headache in supporting applications in production has historically been deployment. Browser-based applications became popular because of the prospect of the immediate and automatic update of application business logic and user interface for every single user. But even with the rising popularity of Rich Internet Applications (RIAs), anything in the browser has some intractable compromise lurking somewhere. Oh, and by the way, classic Web application projects still tend to be more expensive than their 4GL-developed counterparts.

What if you could take advantage of the best of both worlds? What if you could deploy your application and its updates using the ubiquity of the Web, but have the users end up with an uncompromised, rich-interfaced, fully functional application on their desktops with no browser-based compromises?

Applications operating on the workstation exploit client-side resources, reduce server load, don't consume as much bandwidth, and overall have better performance.

Once you deploy/compile your PowerBuilder application as .NET WinForm, your application and its updates can be "published" to the users' workstations just by filling in some property sheets, in a code-free manner by clicking a button...for one or 1,000 users.

Game Plan
The approach to prepare your PowerBuilder application for WinForm deployment is twofold:

  1. Migrate forward to PowerBuilder 11.
  2. Modify your application to work around PowerBuilder features that may not be supported for .NET WinForm deployment.
While these two points are the salient ones, I'll also go into a couple of notable ancillary subtopics as well.

Before you start any part of this process, please...back up your PBLs! I can't tell you how often some poor soul posts a request on the PowerBuilder newsgroup saying he's lost his source or that his libraries have become corrupted somehow and is there a way to decompile his executables into source code. Please, folks, only perform the operations I'll discuss now with libraries that are backed up or are a working copy of your PBLs. And, remember, a backup is only as good as its restore. Verify that you can successfully restore your valuable collateral.

The Recipe
So here's a more detailed recipe for preparing and deploying a PowerBuilder application for WinForm:

  • Backup, backup, BACKUP!
  • Check in all classes from source control.
  • Backup, backup, BACKUP! (Sense a pattern?)
  • Install the required external resources.
  • Install PowerBuilder 11.x
  • Use the Migration Assistant tool (more later)
  • Formulate your Migration Plan
  • Address migration issues that are discovered
  • Backup, backup, BACKUP!
  • Migrate your application
  • Perform a Win32 compilation
  • Perform Quality Assurance
  • Backup, backup, BACKUP!
  • Create a WinForm deployment Target and Project
  • Perform an initial WinForm deployment
  • Save the Unsupported Features output log
  • Use the .NET Features Analyzer IDE Add-in tool (more later)
  • Formulate your Refactoring Plan
  • Refactor/modify your application to work around features unsupported for WinForm
  • Perform a "final" WinForm deployment
  • Back it up, folks
  • Perform Quality Assurance
  • Take advantage of .NET interoperability
  • Take Advantage of .NET smart client deployment/publishing

More Stories By John Strano

John Strano is a Sybase Technology Evangelist and is a charter member of TeamSybase. He has been using PowerBuilder since 1991 and has authored articles for multiple industry periodicals. John has been a Sybase Certified Instructor and has presented Sybase tools on an international basis since 1997. Over the last 17 years John has developed a variety of PowerBuilder applications from single-user scaling up to enterprise-class, web-based projects.

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.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Countless business models have spawned from the IaaS industry – resell Web hosting, blogs, public cloud, and on and on. With the overwhelming amount of tools available to us, it's sometimes easy to overlook that many of them are just new skins of resources we've had for a long time. In his general session at 17th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, an IBM Company, broke down what we have to work with, discussed the benefits and pitfalls and how we can best use them to design hosted applications.
Most of the IoT Gateway scenarios involve collecting data from machines/processing and pushing data upstream to cloud for further analytics. The gateway hardware varies from Raspberry Pi to Industrial PCs. The document states the process of allowing deploying polyglot data pipelining software with the clear notion of supporting immutability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Shashank Jain, a development architect for SAP Labs, discussed the objective, which is to automate the IoT deployment process from development to production scenarios using Docker containers.
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, demonstrated examples of com...
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningful and actionable insights. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Paul Turner, Chief Marketing Officer at...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessions, I wanted to share some of my observations on emerging trends. As cyber security serves as a fou...
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now all corporate assets – people, objects, and spaces – can share information about themselves and thei...
The cloud. Like a comic book superhero, there seems to be no problem it can’t fix or cost it can’t slash. Yet making the transition is not always easy and production environments are still largely on premise. Taking some practical and sensible steps to reduce risk can also help provide a basis for a successful cloud transition. A plethora of surveys from the likes of IDG and Gartner show that more than 70 percent of enterprises have deployed at least one or more cloud application or workload. Yet a closer inspection at the data reveals less than half of these cloud projects involve production...
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" in this scenario: microservice A (releases daily) depends on a couple of additions to backend B (re...
Container technology is shaping the future of DevOps and it’s also changing the way organizations think about application development. With the rise of mobile applications in the enterprise, businesses are abandoning year-long development cycles and embracing technologies that enable rapid development and continuous deployment of apps. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kurt Collins, Developer Evangelist at, examined how Docker has evolved into a highly effective tool for application delivery by allowing increasingly popular Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (mBaaS) platforms to quickly crea...
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound effect on the world, and what should we expect to see over the next couple of years.
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, wil...
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNub’s Data Stream Network.