Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Wednesday’s Session

Advanced DataWindow.Net

Start off first thing in the morning with the Advanced DataWindow.Net class that I'm assisting Dave Fish with. Somewhat of a mixed bag, Dave did a lot of discussion of the new features from PowerPoints. One of the Sybase engineers responsible for the ongoing development of the Web DataWindow did those demos, and so was able to speak to great detail about how it operated. Dave then showed the DataWindow Designer plug-in for Visual Studio. One of the engineers responsible for it's development was also in attendance. Unfortunately, that demo didn't work that well (not suprisingly considering it was a pre-alpha build).

Then I spoke on the WinForms DataWindow control, more with an emphasis on creating your own custom control inherited from it and adding functionality to address some of the most common issues or desired features. So I was showing a lot of code rather than how the unmodified control operated. One of the things that kept me from doing too much demonstration was a late realization that I hadn't installed the demo databases for MS SQL Server on my new laptop. The demo I was using was written on my old laptop and was coded to use those demo databases. I tried for some time to re-install MS SQL Server with the demo databases, but after doing so Visual Studio couldn't see to locate the server at all.

Dave was a bit concerned that we went a bit "deep in the weeds" at times. I thought that was appropriate given that we had indicated that this was an "Advanced" course. My concern was with a bit uneven presentation style, with one of us using mainly PowerPoints, one of us doing demos and a real low level discussion and myself showing end-user code and a somewhat middle level discussion. I think was was all just due to how late we decided to do the presentation. The original list of proposals I saw for review and only a couple of DataWindow.Net sessions, and several of those weren't good candidates. That's why I approached Dave about doing the session. It turns out quite a few DataWindow.Net proposals came in much later and were accepted, so there was no lack of information about DataWindow.Net at the conference after all.

Despite the course being added at the last minute (and being held at 8 AM), we did have a fairly good turnout. Better than we had originally been told to expect. We did have a smaller room, but they also had to bring in extra chairs for the people who hadn't originally signed up but came anyway.

Using PowerBuilder to develop applications for Oracle: Special Considerations

This was the session I did alone, and had spent the most amount of time preparing for. Unfortunately, it still suffered from "demo curse". I have two Oracle instances installed on the machine and they worked flawlessly until just prior to the class. At that point, the listener suddenly started flaking out. Either it would crash on startup, or it would startup but then was unable to hand off connection attempts to one of the instances. In any event, I barely had enough time for my slides, much less any demos. Fairly good attendance and most people seemed to have liked the presentation.

Lunch/Exhibit Hall

Once again lunch was in the exhibit hall. Still seems to work.

Open Source PFC

This was another one that was added late. Many folks didn't even know it was available when they registered, they only found out about it when they arrived at TechWave. We did a modified version of our presentation from last year, trying to make it clearer about how to get involved and how important it was for the project to have more people actively participating. We also tried to address some of the questions and concerns about the LGPL licensing model.

PowerBuilder Application Server Plug-in

This was the only session I've been able to attend so far that I was either a presenter or a procotor. Much the same as last year, except fewer code samples and demos. That was a good thing, as he barely had time for his slides as well. Still good information though. The product should be released soon, although I was a bit disappointed to hear that official support for the Oracle application server won't be in the original release. Instead, the focus has been on JBoss, Websphere and Weblogic.

Enchancements Session

Perhaps 30 people, including a number of Sybase people. They made sure that there was nothing else going on during these sessions to keep people from attending. Perhaps more is needed, as I was a bit disappointed by the turnout.

Eric Van Patten – ISUG
Terry Voth – ISUG TeamSybase liason
John Strano
Dave Fish
Loren Corbridge
Ian Thain

Comments from the attendees

• Instability of the DataWindow painter when a non-default view is used

• Source Control – Collapses the PBL when it refreshes – is being worked on

• DataWindow SQL painter opens slowly in 9 ( perhaps even PB8 ) and beyond (only seems to happen for certain databases) – could be the retrieving of the database catalog

• Problems with auto-size height not displaying correctly in preview, although it prints correctly

• Mixed message about the future. The Workspace folks made a claim about Workspace being the development tool of the future during the keynote, which made the PowerBuilder users in the audience uncomfortable

• Trouble finding people who program in PowerBuilder – one person recommended just hiring recent college grads and training them

• Training materials – mentioned Larry Cermak’s training CDs. ISUG also does monthly webcasts.

• Test driven development

• Refactoring

• Recommended camtasia to record demos, since there were so many problems with demos this year

• ORCAScript is only half finished

• More training options on the support section Sybase web site, recorded webcasts

• Many of the PB controls are wrapped common controls, but some of the functionality is missing. Make sure that all of the functionality is exposed as we move to WinForms.

• Conditional breakpoints for page breaks in reports

• DataWindow doesn’t work correctly with enhanced screen readers for visually impaired users

• Ability to debug into a stored procedure from the PowerBuilder IDE

• Issue with DataWindow Painter recreating the DataWindow when the SQL is edited

• Want the option to SaveAs (Excel) that exports what the user sees on the screen, not what is in the dataset – mention that there is a third party tool that does this.

• Want excel like capability where text will display to the right when there isn’t another column there.

• Don’t like having the update specifications change when the datawindow is changed.

• Want image column capability.

• Question on accessibility features in Workspace

• Ability to plug in resources in the IDE

• Rich text column style

• Save an object that can’t be compiled

• When are you going to get rid of the PBL

• Long column text not breaking correctly over page breaks

• Turning gridlines off prevents column resizing and movement

• Dockable windows

• “Lock” controls on the DataWindow so it can’t be moved in the painter until it’s unlocked

• Reset properties option

• Alignment indicators

• Add repeating columns for cross-tab reports

• Relative paths in project painter

• Ability to debug one window

• Extended attributes are spread out now, there used to be one place that you could view them all.

• Give all Sybase customers ISUG membership. $20 is still a hassle for a corporate purchase

Special Event

Penn & Teller. Once again I've blown it off. Decided it wasn't quite my cup of tea. I'll report back on what the folks that did attend had to say about it. Frankly, I'd prefer special events that were a bit more family (and pocketbook) friendly. Guest passes for this event went for $200 each. Not something you take a family of four to. But then again, I'd prefer a location for TechWave that was a bit more family friendly.

Pictures of the sessions are here.

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