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PowerBuilder to Java or .NET

Written byGuest Blogger

August 11, 2012

PowerBuilder is an integrated development environment (IDE) with a programming language, PowerScript, used to create applications. PowerBuilder 12.5 has good integration with the Microsoft ecosystem. In fact, the vendor will tell you that “PowerBuilder IS .NET”. Though originally designed to compete with Microsoft-developed IDE’s (primarily Visual Studio), the PowerBuilder .NET integration was created to allow continuity for the PowerBuilder user base and to take advantage of the .NET platform that many developers are now using to create business critical applications.  PowerBuilder can technically qualify as a .NET language, with full Common Type System (CTS) language support.

The PowerBuilder 12.5 release for .NET IDE is preferred by many application developers because it is a fast, cost-effective and easy application development environment. The typical PowerBuilder business application is high performance and data driven. Technology used in the PowerBuilder .NET integration is also unique in that it continuously evolves to accommodate the latest software advances on the Microsoft platform and, of course, the business needs of the users. This ability to keep up with improvements in VUI (Visual User Interface) advances as well as functionality creates an arguable competitive advantage for businesses that use the PowerBuilder for .NET platform.

One of the reasons the PowerBuilder to .NET platform is favoured as rapid application development software by some developers is its speed and simplicity. This development speed is attributed to the graphical software construction tools and the original PowerBuilder “‘Data Window”’ technology. This function, brought forward to Powerbuilder 12 from the older PowerBuilder versions, allows developers to use minimal coding to create data rich applications. Thanks to the DataWindow, developers using PowerBuilder for the .NET environment may only need to write a few lines of scripting code to apply simple business logic to the UI screen.

The simplicity created by the PowerBuilder for .NET technology through its declarative programming environment, coupled with increased levels of abstraction reduces complexities of development and thus the time taken to create applications. This leaves time for the developers to find solutions to other business problems – as opposed to spending their time trying to make sure their application development software is keeping up with market developments in programming languages, techniques and new technologies.  Programmers who grew up with PowerBuilder like it a lot, for these and other reasons.

Modernization of applications is the latest trend today. Although Power Builder 12.5, the latest release to embrace the .NET platform, also comes equipped with multiple development options and open database support, the problem for many shops is that it’s still a closed environment. There is only one vendor for this programming language, there are few products available to integrate with PowerBuilder applications, and PowerBuilder development is not taught in trade schools and universities.

Vendor stability has also been an issue.  PowerBuilder originally was developed by PowerSoft Corporation, who were bought by Sybase, the database company, who have now been bought by SAP, the Dutch ERP software vendor.  There are far, far fewer PowerBuilder applications in the world than there are examples of more widely used legacy languages like COBOL. The number of PowerBuilder users peaked in 1998 at around 100,000.

PowerBuilder allows the creation of quite sophisticated Graphical User Interfaces (GUI), but the vast majority of PowerBuilder applications are client-server implementations that require desktop installs.  The deployment and maintenance cost of client-server applications is significant, and Sybase (now SAP) is increasing licensing costs.  And the PowerBuilder developers who trained in the 80’s are retiring.  Staying with PowerBuilder is an option, but if it’s .NET you want, why not let us modernize your PowerBuilder to .NET — as a real Microsoft Visual Studio C# and MVC application?  Developers do train for that platform.  Or, if you prefer the stability and security of Java, we can take your PowerBuilder to Java also.

In either modernization approach, PowerBuilder to .NET or PowerBuilder to Java, we can give you a true web application with many familiar features – even grids that deliver DataWindow style functionality.  The code requires no desktop installs, and takes advantage of the modern frameworks that the best developers want to work with.  Make your applications the kind that the modern university and programming school graduates want to work on!

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