Thursday, August 01, 2013

What do you want out of the #PowerBuilder Developer’s Conference?

The following is an editorial that I originally prepared for the April edition of the PowerBuilder Developer's Journal.  The material is getting a bit dated, but I though some of it was worthwhile, so I'm posting it here.


It’s getting close to that time of year again. Time when the PowerBuilder Developer’s Conference (PBDC) Is announced, the call for papers begins, and eventually registration starts. A good time to reflect again on how the last few conferences went and see what we might want to do different.

Networking -- The first thing I’d ask for is that we do the announcement, the call for papers and the registration much sooner this year. Last year the announcement and the call for papers didn’t happen until June, and you couldn’t register until August. I don’t believe that the actual session information was available until September, and then it was unclear as to exactly when the sessions were occurring (they had them listed in groups of “morning” and “afternoon” sessions). We only had about 90 people show up for last year’s events, and I think the somewhat lower than expected turnout was a result of the delay in getting information out about the event. One of the primary reasons I’m there is to network, and a poor turnout has a detrimental effect on my being able to do that.

New Product Information -- The other major thing I’m looking for when I get to any user conference is announcements of and demonstrations of new features in an upcoming major release of PowerBuilder. Give that PowerBuilder 12.5 was released in August of 2011 (about a month before TechWave 2011), we’re a bit overdue for a major release. As the following table shows, assuming that PowerBuilder 15 is released at PBDC, it would be the second longest time between major releases in PowerBuilder history. [1] The longest gap between major releases was 30 months between version 3 and 4, and the average number of months between releases is 17 months.


Release Date

Months Since Prior Release



















































It is safe to assume that Sybase’s acquisition by SAP has resulted in some delay in the release of this next major version as SAP looks to add features to the product that better align it with other products in its portfolio.

Education Sessions -- Many years ago, TechWave events had education sessions in the mornings (either 2 or 4 day events) and then technical sessions in the evenings. The education sessions were often faster paced versions of Sybase’s classroom training, including hands on labs. The last time I can recall they had those was in 2008. In 2009 they held pre-conference courses, and for 2010 they had pre- and post-conference courses (because the pre-conference courses booked up completely). They had pre-conference courses in 2011. In 2012, ISUG and eLearnIT ran a pre-conference workshop. Frankly, I haven’t attended any of the pre- or post-conference training events, but I would like to see them continue.

Technical Sessions – Technical sessions are, for me, the third key feature of these events. Of course, with the exception of the two “symposiums” in 2009 and 2010 I’ve been a presenter every year since 2004. One thing I wonder is if we couldn’t do these a bit differently. Perhaps a smaller numbers of session, each a bit longer, and a focus not on just presenting material, but actually walking people through how to use the information presented. For example, the sessions I’ve been doing recently have been on (a) web services and (b) .Net assemblies. Perhaps this year, rather than just running through a set of PowerPoint slides and a few canned demos, perhaps we could take the time to walk the attendees through the creation of each of the samples. That way they leave not only having seen the information presented and perhaps with sample code, but the actual experience of putting it all together.

Demo Jam – This is a new option available to us since our conference became co-hosted with SAP TechEd in 2011. It’s a contest in which developers are given 6 minutes to demo an innovative application they’ve developed using SAP products. In 2011, Ronnie Po presented a PowerBuilder based application that took 2nd place in the event, just being edged out slightly for 1st. There weren’t any PowerBuilder based applications in the 2012 event, which was a real shame. One way to really promote PowerBuilder as a development tool within the SAP development community would be through events like Demo Jam. I’d like to encourage anybody coming to the conference this year to submit something for consideration for Demo Jam. More information can be found at

Inno Jam – Like Demo Jam, Inno Jam is another SAP TechEd event that we can participate in as a result of being co-located with that event. Inno Jam in a 30 hour hands on training and development session. You form teams at the beginning of the event and select the SAP products you want to use to solve a technical challenge presented to you. While it might be an opportunity to share PowerBuilder with the rest of the SAP development community (provided your team selects it as a tool to use) it’s also a great opportunity to get hands on experience with the other products in the SAP portfolio. For more information about Inno Jam, see

Incidentally, Inno Jam is also held at a number of other times and locations, not just SAP TechEd. There is also a shorter (5 to 6 hour) version of it called CodeJam. For more information about those events, see:

Special Event – In 2011 the special event was a concert by One Republic, which I attended. In 2012, the special event was another concert, this time by 3 Doors Down, which I skipped. No word on the special event this year, except that it’s a “concert”. I suppose I’d get real excited if they could get bands that I’m fonder of like Runrig, The Afters, or Skillet. That would probably leave about 95% of the attendees in the dark as to who the band was though.

We’ll know more as the date approaches, but that’s what I’m looking for at the PBDC this year. What about you? Are you looking for something different? If you’re hesitant to take the time and spend the money to go, what would be the one thing that they might offer that would decide it for you one way or another? Hope to see you there!


1.  Release dates for versions up through 11.5 were taken from the IDC Whitepaper entitled Sybase PowerBuilder: Back to the Future with Application Development Productivity.

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