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PowerBuilder Takes You To .NET

Preparing PowerBuilder applications for .NET Windows Forms deployment

PowerBuilder 11 Installation
PowerBuilder 11's features have new prerequisite software items that you'll need to install and configure before making your first .NET deployment.

The .NET Framework and its SDK act as a foundation for PowerBuilder's .NET capabilities. You'll want to review the PowerBuilder installation guide, especially Table 1-3 for a concise yet comprehensive list of these prerequisite packages and tasks.

http://infocenter.sybase.com/help/topic/com.sybase.dc37771_1100/pdf/pbeinst.pdf

Let's Get to Work: Migration
To take advantage of PowerBuilder's .NET capabilities, you'll need to migrate your application to PowerBuilder 11. Before you do anything else, review the migration guide in the "User's Guide" under Working with Libraries>Migrating Targets

http://infocenter.sybase.com/help/topic/com.sybase.dc37773_1100/html/pbug/BGBJHCBC.htm

Invaluable anecdotal information and recommendations can also be found in Terry Voth's (TeamSybase - www.TeamSybase.com) Migration Guide...especially for "grooming" PBLs before migration by optimizing them.

www.techno-kitten.com/PowerBuilder_Help/PowerBuilder_Migration/powerbuilder_migration.html

Of course, if you're migrating from PowerBuilder 6.5 or earlier, you'll be working more issues than an application that's on version 10.5. As of PowerBuilder 10, unicode rather than ANSI is the default for the character encoding format and will impact strings in external function calls, string length calculations, etc. The compiler in PowerBuilder 11 is more stringent about certain coding practices like casting. Distributed PowerBuilder (DPB) has been removed. Graphics capabilities that were added in 10.5 may cause visual changes in your layouts and fonts that you may want to adjust.

I highly recommend creating a formalized Migration Plan. Not only will this plan let you identify refactoring tasks that need to be done, it will also let you quantify the number of those tasks and estimate the time and effort they'll require. Migrating your application forward should be relatively painless if it's managed as the bona fide project it is.

Let's presuppose your application is on a version of PowerBuilder no earlier than 7.x. Below, we'll cite possible migration tasks related to each subsequent version leading up to PowerBuilder 11. Then we'll examine the Migration Assistant tool and how it can help you to identify which of these migration issues affect your application.

Migration Issues Version by Version

  • PowerBuilder 7.x
    - New IDE
    - TreeView and ListView changes
  • PowerBuilder 8.x
    - Workspaces and Targets added
    - Source Code Control (SCC) configuration
    - SystemError event behavior changes
  • PowerBuilder 9.x
    - PowerDynamo support removed
    - Distributed PowerBuilder removed
  • PowerBuilder 10
    - Unicode implementation
    - Last Sybase delivery of PFC (now Open Source)
    - SQL Server native driver removed
  • PowerBuilder 10.5
    - Byte data type added
    - Updated Decimal support
    - Rich Text Control implementation enhanced
    - Icon changes
    - .NET Web Service support added
  • PowerBuilder 11
    - SySAM license management added
    - DataDirect database drivers removed
    - SQL Server native driver (SNC) added
The Migration Assistant
The Migration Assistant tool exists to help you discover migration issues in your PBLs before you make your first attempt to migrate your applications and targets. (Figure 1)

Note: You'll want to use the Migration Assistant to analyze your PBLs using PowerBuilder 11 before you open your application in the IDE to migrate it.

It can be accessed from PowerBuilder's menu by clicking on File>New and then choosing the Tool tabpage in that response window.

The tool will search for obsolete syntax as well as for other migration issues in the PowerBuilder versions between 6 and 11 that you specify. If you're migrating from PowerBuilder 5 or earlier, you'll want to check all the versions available up to and including 11. (Figure 2)


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.

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