Thursday, August 09, 2007

TechWave 2007 - Thursday

Tools Keynote

Once again, the first thing after the Continental Breakfast and the morning education session was the Tools Keynote. The butterfly chart made an appearance and there was some discussion of the evolution of application development. Then came an introduction to the new PowerBuilder 11 features entitled "PowerBuilder 11: Accelerate Your .Net Development". Like the previous keynotes, there is a recorded webcast for this one as well.

The introduction to PowerBuilder 11 features started off with John Strano coming onstage wearing one of the Sybase welding masks to the tune of the Star Wars Imperial March. John indicated that the plan for the PowerBuilder "Family of Products" (which he later defined as including PowerBuilder, PocketBuilder, DataWindow.Net and the PowerBuilder Application Server Plugin) is to:

  • Focus on .Net and J2EE platforms to extend reach.

  • Provide key technology differentiators within an open 4GL IDE.

  • Leverage DataWindow technology as the cornerstone of Sybase offerings

He then went on to indicate what the upcoming planned releases and their feature sets would be, particularly:

PowerBuilder 11.0 (now) - .Net Simplified

  • Deploy applications and NVOs to .Net

  • UI and IDE Enhancements

  • DataWindow Enhancements

  • New and Updated Database Drivers

PowerBuilder 11.1 (later in 2007) - .Net Enhanced

  • .Net incremental compiler

  • Informix 10 support

  • Enhanced Vista support

PowerBuilder 11.1.1 (early 2008) - .Net Enhanced

  • AJAX support for Web Forms applications

  • EAServer .Net Client Support

  • r.a.d. Controls for Web Forms

PowerBuilder 12.0 (late 2008) - .Net Exploited

  • .Net in the IDE

  • WPF/WCF support

  • Fully managed code DataWindow

  • Language enhancements to support .Net interoperability

Dave Fish then came out to discuss the PowerBuilder 11 "Release Defining" Features in more depth, including:

Updated Database Connectivity

  • New ASE 15 Database Driver

  • New Microsoft SQL Server Driver

  • Support for Oracle RAC

IDE Enhancements

  • AutoScripting enhancements

  • Resizeable dialog boxes

  • Updated menus and toolbars in IDE

  • System tree enhancements

  • Project Painter enhancements

  • Output pane enhancements

  • Exception settings in the debugger

  • Window animation and transparency

DataWindow Enhancements

  • Use of Ellipsis

  • Retrain Retrieval Arguments

  • Web Treeview DataWindow

  • Web Service as a DataWindow Data Source

.Net Deployment Capability

  • WebForms

  • Windows Forms and Smart Client

  • NVOs as web services or assemblies

  • .Net interoperability

He then gave out a URL where you could see prerecorded demos of the new features.

John then did a demo of smart client application creation, deployment and updating. Finally, Dave did a demo of a "mash-up" application based on PowerBuilder interacting with Google Maps and Flash charts that included zooming into the poolside of the Mandalay Bay to find Jeff Pryslak goofing off. John then closed by noting that PowerBuilder has always been about "simplifying Windows application development" and was now also about "simplifying .Net development".

The only thing that seemed a bit strange is that the Tuesday Plenary session covered beyond PB11 features and the Thursday Tools keynote covered PB11 features. I'm thinking that the order should have been reversed. Show us what is new in PB11 first, then later show us what is in the pipeline for future versions. Otherwise, the "wow" from the futures stuff kind of steals the thunder from PB11 new features.

Exhibit Hall

Back down to the Exhibit Hall. It's about to close for this year, so I'm busy picking up whatever "swag" I can to take back to the office. One of the young women running the PowerBuilder Plinko game decides to try on one of the Sybase welding masks, and so I feel compelled to record it for all history.

The Proactive DBA booth is giving away a Wii, and I drop by about a half an hour before they do the drawing. There's some guy playing tennis on it and complaining that the controls are impossible to use. I mention that it just takes getting used to (I've had one since March and play tennis on it almost daily) at which point he hands me the controller. I continue to play it until after the drawing is over, wowing the crowd will my "120 mph" serves and "killer" backhands.

Preparing a PowerBuilder Application for Vista Certification

I dropped by this session, for which they also submitted a PBDJ article. Very informative. I'm recommending we put our own applications through the process, even if we don't go for actual certification, to at least make sure they work correctly on Vista.

Advanced PowerDesigner Features and Extensions

The only non-PowerBuilder class I signed up for during the entire conference. Also very informative. There were a number of PocketBuilder classes I signed up for as well, but was unable to actually make it to. This year there were so many PowerBuilder classes this year that I couldn't attend half of them.

Special Event

This year's special event was the House of Blues, right there in the casino. Lots of food and drinks, not that many places to sit down, or even set your food down. Tattoo artist and fortune tellers as well. The main attraction was a live band that did Credence Clearwater Revival type stuff in their first set and then a ZZ top impersonation in their second. I wasn't terribly impressed, but it wasn't terrible. It's certainly not my style though. On the other hand, if I had paid $200 to have a special guest come with me I would have been livid. I'd suggest for next year that we have a better special event (one that's more family friendly) along with more reasonable special guest prices.

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