Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Enhancement Sessions

Oops! Somebody slipped up here. Major confusion.

There's no indication in the schedule where the enhancement sessions are being held other than "conference center ballroom level". Lots of people wandering around trying to figure out where they're supposed to be.

The tools enhancement session featured Brian Ennis of ISUG and Dave Fish (PB Specialist), Dave Dichman (PowerDesigner Senior Staff Engineer - Product Management), Ian Thain (PocketBuilder Architect), John Strano (PB Senior Systems Consultant) and Jonathan Baker (EAServer, Manager ITSG Evangelism).

Enhancements Panel

Brian talked about the purpose of ISUG and then demonstrated the enhancement request page on the ISUG web site.

ISUG Enhancements Site

John Strano indicated the release schedule for the PB VM on Linux and the .Net generators (which were noted in the tools keynote as well).

There were questions about improving graphing capabilities in PowerBuilder. John indicated that there is priority on improving the user interface, but it was a question of priorities within those enhancements. The community needs to let Sybase know which enhancements are more important.

Someone suggested that PowerBuilder be modified to implement features to duplicate Crystal Reports (in particular the ability to create drill down reports with little or no coding).

One question was raised about PDF generation. John indicated that such functionality was introduced in PowerBuilder 9. That was followed by some discussion of GNU versus LGPL licensing (since the GhostScript library used for PDF generation uses the GNU license) which was then followed by a discussion of the open source release of PFC, which uses the LGPL license instead.

There was a complaint about the migration process becoming more difficult and a lack of documentation concerning it.

There was a question concerning Longhorn as well as XP SP2 support. Sybase indicated that they would be supported.

Somebody suggested supporting stored procedure editing within the PB database painter, which Dave Fish indicated might make a good official enhancement request. The same person indicated that a number of the dialogs within the PB IDE were too small, and Dave Fish indicated that they were working on addressing that, including making many of the dialogs resizeable.

There was a mention of a thread in the newsgroups future_directions forum. Apparently there was some concern about there being too many places where enhancement requests were being discussed and whether or not the list for PB11 was already settled. Dave indicated that the official method of submitting requests is through the ISUG web site. He also reminded the attendees that everyone who attended the conference automatically recieved an ISUG membership, so that they would have rights to enter then ehnancement section.

There was a question about PocketBuilder support for the Palm, which Ian indicated there were no plans for. He also indicated that recently Palm lost the top spot for the PDA OS market to Microsoft, and they expected that downward trend in Palm market share to continue.

The same person had questions about support for XP SP2, and John indicated again that it would be supported. His concern was whether Sybase would indicate publically if they discovered problems with XP2 so that users would know to hold off on it.

Someone noted that Visual Expert does a lot of very detailed analysis and were wondering if PowerDesigner would be improved to provide such capability. Dave Dichman and Dave Fish both indicated that they would leave that kind of low level analysis to the third-party market.

Somebody asked about being able to integrate the DataWindow Painter into their own applications. Dave Fish indicated that he also thought that was a good idea and indicated he would follow up with his managemet.

There was some discussion that the enhancement session should be earlier in the week, particularly not early in the morning the day after the special event.

There was the obvious question about marketing. The audience applauded...

Dave Fish indicated that he was no longer going to promise that more marketing was coming, since he was losing credibility by doing so. Karen Frederickson (Director of Marketing for tools) explained that there is a corporate directive to focus marketing on the corporation and on selling solutions, not tools. She indicated that there were some efforts involved in getting Sybase tools considered for awards and other 'grass-roots' efforts.


Various audience members indicated that they were in the business of providing solutions to their customers (the companies they work for), but that their customers were unfamiliar with the products and were concerned about using them. Dave Fish asked how Sybase make get the word out better. Audience members indicated that books in the large stores (Borders, etc.) as well as product on the shelves of local vendors (CompUSA) would help considerably.

Audience members indicated that the capabilities of the products need to be shown off. The advertising they have seen is too much flash and not enough substance. The advertising needs to show the customer how the product will apply to their business.

The audience indicate that they wanted more tool specific advertising, and Karen indicated that it simply wasn't the way that Sybase corporate does marketing.

Karen indicated that what is more helpful is that people write articles for magazines, which is more effective than plain ads.

There was a request to allow composite reports incorporate datawindows that have different layout orientations.

There was a request to allow PowerBuilder to deploy components to application servers other than EAServer. That was followed by a discussion of which application servers should be supported and whether such support should be done before or after J2EE 1.4 certification.

There was some discussion of how PowerDesigner was able to regain the top spot without marketing. Dave Dichman indicated that marketing was actually being done, but it was precisely targetted.

One person asked about improving PowerDesigner so that it handled database modification scripts better, like some third party tools so. Dave Dichman indicated that they are looking at that.

One person indicated that they loved the install process.

A consultant from Utah indicated that the local universities had stopped teaching PowerBuilder and were pushing .Net and Java instead. Karen indicated that the education program has been restarted overseas and they are hoping to bring it back to the U.S. soon. Dave Fish indicated that there are now academic versions of the products as well.

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