Monday, April 21, 2014

ISUG Tech Conference 2014 Report



It's good not to be in Las Vegas.  The location in Atlanta is rather convenient.  You can take a MARTA train straight from the airport to a shopping mall close to the hotel and then take a covered walkway from the mall to the hotel.  The one issue though is that things are not well marked.  It seems that the people responsible for signage may be looking at it from the perspective of people that already know the area. I found it quite hard to find my way around when I first arrived.

What is interesting about the location is that the area is quite packed during the day (for example when I ran back over to the mall to get lunch) and deserted at night (being the downtown area).  Since most places serve the folks that are working at their offices during the day, large parts of the area close down between 6 and 8PM.  I'd like a location that was a little more active during non-conference hours.


It went quickly.  We received a badge, a small program guide and a copy of the ISUG - TECH journal.  Those of us who were speaking also received a polo shirt.  One thing I noted is that the program guide indicated when the second day of Yakov's workshop was, but forgot to include the first.  Not sure if I'm that upset, because the first day of his session runs concurrent with the 3 sessions I'm doing.

Welcome Reception

Held at the lounge at the top of the hotel.  Well attended, though not a lot of food.  Most folks headed out afterwards for a real meal.



Standard continental breakfast located next to the ballroom where the general sessions are being held. Suggestion for next conference: Have the breakfast and general sessions in the same room.  Let people take a bit more time with breakfast (eating it during the session).

Opening Keynote

Also held in a section of the ballroom.  It was actually configured to be quite wide and not very deep, so that everyone was fairly close to the platform.  The first three rows of the middle seating was simply chairs.  The next three rows behind them and all of the seating on the right and left wings was chairs spaced farther apart behind long tables.  I really like having tables and more space. Suggestion for next year:  Provide power outlets at the tables as well.

Mike Harrold and Brian Enochs started with a discussion of ISUG-TECH and their role.

Irfan Kahn ( SVP and General Manager for SAP Database and Technology)  then discussed the HANA platform and noted that the SAP release of ASE was one of the most significant versions in ASE history, so SAP is committed to investing in the non HANA products.

Richard Plederder (Senior Vice President Development HANA Platform Data Management) then discussed the Real Time Data Platform (note PowerBuilder included in the slide).

That was followed by a demo of ASE 16 doing linear scaling from 16 to 80 processors.  Then representatives of the China Academy of Railway Sciences discussed how they are using ASE to support their enormous ticket sales (3 billions transactions a day with a peak load of 9.4 million transactions per hour during peak travel season).

Then a discussion of coming features in future versions of ASE including Low Latency (In memory row store with MVCC and compiled queries), Speed ( memory and storage tier with Flash, parallel utilities and lazy decompression), Security (data masking and workload analysis) and Simplicity (heat map for data tiering and real time workload capture).

For IQ, future enhancements include Reduced TCO (shared nothing on direct attached storage), Real Time Capabilities (In memory scale out) and HANA support (SAP HANA extended storage and near line storage).

For Replication Server, enhancements include Increase Throughput with reduced latency, Zero Data Loss HA/DR via synchronous replication, Real-time replication into HANA from AP.

SQL Anywhere enhancements include Newly emerging embedded systems, SAP ecosystem integration and High performance synchronization.

That was followed by a Q&A session with the speakers.  Richard Plederder mentioned that PowerBuilder is not under his group, but it is proceeding forward and would be covered in the Plenary session.  He also indicated that PowerDesigner is doing well and they are working on an HTML portal version of it that would be discussed later at the conference.

Plenary session

About 40 people, including 6 from Appeon's engineering team.  Do to a travel approval SNAFU, Sue wasn't able to make it.  Dave asked how many people had the beta, and only one person (Jeff Gibson who is presenting on it) did.  Dave discussed the SAP release process including the Partner Beta test in Waldorf in May and then the subsequent release.  Dave demonstrated the 64 bit capability and referenced Jeff's session for demonstrations of docking windows, OData, etc.

Dave indicated is what Sue would like to see moving forward is a release per year with a few new features rather than large major releases less frequently.  Dave has come back to PowerBuilder as of January.  Is looking to have CodeJam events featuring PowerBuilder at the time of the product release.

Dave asked who was using PowerBuilder.Net and got about 6 hands.  He then asked who was doing WPF development and only got 1.

New ProcessBitness property on Environment object so you can see whether you're in the IDE (32 bit) or a running app (64 bit).  You will need to add code to test for that and then specify which database driver you want to use, particularly if you want to test the app in the 32 bit IDE but deploy to 64 bit.  If you compile for 64 bit the machine code option is not available.  Dave asked who was doing machine code compiles and only one person (Jeff) raised their hand.

Dave then demoed some SAP products that incorporate PowerBuilder technology.  The first was SAP UI5.   You can take your DataWindow SRD files and use them in SAP UI5 and then view them on any device in any browser.

They are also working on a tool called Web Access Toolkit (WAT) which is a browser based IDE to do development.  It sounds like it will replace App Builder, which is a web based IDE, but focused on mobile development.

EAServer is no longer being sold.  It isn't end of life yet, but the only thing in the future is maintenance releases.  They won't go end of life until they decide just how long they will continue to support it.

Armeen then demoed Appeon.


Lunch was located next to the exhibit hall.  The food was largely fried and breaded, and water seemed to be the only beverage served.

Technical Sessions

How to Develop Native Cross-OS Mobile Apps with PowerBuilder - Armeen Mazda

This is standard workshop for Appeon, though condensed down due to lack of time.  A USB card was handed out with a developer version of Appeon.  Armeen then walked through pre-configuring the users laptops for the install (about 30 minutes) and then the install and configuration of Appeon (another 30 minutes).  The remainder of the time was spend working with the Appeon sample application.  There were about 40 people in the session.

Agile Software Engineering (ASE) - An Overview - Dave Fish

I sat through the first half of this session, where Dave went over the basis of Agile development.  I had to leave halfway through to catch the session on PB15 enhancements.  There were about 20 people in the session.

What's New in PowerBuilder 15 - Jeff Gibson.

Jeff covered the enhancement coming in PowerBuilder 15, including:

  • OData data source
  • 64 bit deployment in PowerBuilder Classic
    • bitness indicator so you can add conditional code so you can debug in IDE (32 bit) and deploy (64 bit) with same code
    • note that in Windows displays two different ODBC panels (one 32 bit and one 64 bit), but the panels display profiles from both
    • note that when you are writing to registry, 32 bit and 64 bit apps write to different areas
  • Windows 8 support
  • .Net 4.5 support
  • Dockable windows
    • MDIDock,  MDIDockHelp
    • OpenSheet:  Docked!   Floating!  TabbedDocument!  TabbedWindow!
    • A  number of new OpenSheet commands to support opening windows into specific areas.
  • Updated Database Drivers
    • Microsoft SQL Server  20122
    • Oracle 12
  • Upgraded Graphic DataWindows in PowerBuilder.Net (perhaps,, Jeff found it in the documentation  at one point and then couldn't find it later)
There were approximately 40 people in his session.  He asked how many people had access to the beta, and only one person did.

Sponsor Reception

Mostly drinks, very little food, so I went out to get something to eat and back to my hotel room to work on my demos.



On the second day it was Quiche, so I decided to find something else and headed off to my first session.

Technical Sessions

Introducing SAP Mobile Platform (SMP 3.0) - Dave Fish

Best of Breed between Sybase, SAP and Syclo.  Doesn't provide a development tool other than App Builder.  You bring your own tools.  7 people attending.  It does provide an SDK based on Cordova (formerly PhoneGap) so that you don't have to deal directly with device APIs.  Agentry UI framework allows you to create apps with little coding.

SAP Mobile SDK 3.0 Overview - Tony Woods

Tony gave a bit deeper dive into the mobile SDK provided with SMP.

Introduction to SAP River - Dave Fish

Dave then discussed River, a tool that uses a definition language to create the data model, business logic and access control logic and then exposes it as OData services that can be called from a number of different clients.  SAP has floated the idea of enabling PowerBuilder to generate the definition language used by River in order to provide a graphical development tool for it.


It seems my California influenced healthy eating habits don't quite mesh the the meals provided in the South.  I found something else.

Introduction to SAP UI 5 - Day One - Dave Fish

This was my only technical session on Wednesday afternoon (some 4 hours or so long, the first of two) and one of my favorites.  It was an intro to SAP UI5, but one that involved hands on coding.  We did about half the coding exercises used, a collaborative javascript coding environment that is entirely browser based.  It does eliminate the need to do the somewhat involved setup of eclipse and configure it for SAP UI5.  However, it doesn't seem to offer a whole lot of help diagnosing coding errors.  We did the rest of the coding exercises (including a music store that plays sample of tunes by pulling the preview from itunes) in SAP UI5 in the eclipse IDE.


Wednesday evening from 6pm to 11pm was spent at CodeJam.  Another of my favorite events because it involved hand on coding.  (That the served all you can eat pizzas and drinks didn't hurt either, so much for healthy eating!).  This time the tools included HANA Studio and SAP UI5.  There were others as well, but I was only able to get through 4 of the 13 exercises (all involving HANA Studio) in the time allowed.

They had us all remoting into our own virtual desktops in Amazon Web Services (AWS) and running the tools from there, which ensured we didn't have very many problems getting the environments configured.  However, given that they took down the instances shortly after CodeJam ended, we don't have any opportunity to play with them further (without going out and setting up our own environment on AWS at least).  I would have liked to have access to the desktop for a few days afterwards to try some of the other exercises that I didn't have a chance to get to.



I skipped the conference provided breakfast again, opting for something a bit more health conscious.

Technical Sessions

My turn to present.  I did three sessions back to back.

  • PowerBuilder.Net Visual Assemblies in Visual Studio.Net
  • COM Callable Wrapped Web Services in PowerBuilder Classic
  • Creation and Consumption of Web Services
It didn't occur to me until that morning that the last two courses should have been presented in reversed order, as the last one would have made a great intro for the second one.

Attendance wasn't bad, particularly considering that they were concurrent with the first day of Yakov's workshop.


This time I did find something to eat at the lunch.  It's also when ISUG held the drawing from the exhibit hall contest.  I was the first winner, and got a second blue ISUG shirt.

Introduction to SAP UI 5 - Day Two - Dave Fish

Not much to add, just finishing up the hands on coding exercises.

Conference End

And that was it.  Headed through the walkways to the MARTA station, took the MARTA to the airport and then I'm on my way home.


All in all a good experience.  Given that it's the first time in a while that ISUG has done a conference separate from the now defunct TechWave, that word about it got out late, and that there as a PowerBuilder specific conference within 250 miles of the location the prior month, turnout was still pretty good.  It will be interesting to see how much better attended it might be next year as it establishes itself as an annual event, word get out about it sooner and overlap with other regional events might be avoided.  There will also be a new version of PowerBuilder out by then, so there should be a greater opportunity for new session content.


One note about my food comments.  I'm rather particular.  I made similar complaints about food at TechWave 2010.  At SAP TechEd/TechWave 2011 I never even made it for SAP provided lunch until the last day.

I had a similar experience the two times I stopped at Chik-fil-a while I was there in Atlanta (once in the mall, and then later at the airport on the way out).  I asked for grilled rather than fried chicken (it's one of their menu items!) and got a blank stare for a minute, and then told I would have to wait a few minutes because they don't keep the grilled chicken readily available like they do fried.

Check this out regarding healthy food (and activities) and conferences:  How To Keep The People Attending Your Conference Alive

Also, I'm also a coffee and drink snob.  I skipped the conference provided drinks as well.  I just checked, and I spent over $150 buying coffee, vitamin waters, protein bars and outside meals while at the conference.  It's not unusual for me to bring a cooler with my own food to a conference if it's fairly local or I might buy a cooler and my own food at a grocery store neat the event the day before the conference if it's farther away.

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