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Posts Tagged ‘Powerbuilder’

Can developers use high level tools without lock in?

December 3, 2007 2 comments

Last week I wrote about WaveMaker and its new Web 2.0 development environment comparing it to PowerBuilder. One of the big problems that someone pointed out to me is that PowerBuilder was proprietary. Because old software never dies, IT organizations are still coping with old PowerBuilder applications that they have to support. Does this mean that we should avoid all development environments that hide the complexity of traditional programming environments? In my view that would be unrealistic. While there are some very talented developers in the world who can do quick magic with Java, cSharp, and C++, etc.; a majority of developers need abstracted tools to do projects needed by the business on a moment to moment basis.

I remember many years ago when I spoke at a conference of developers. I told them (I think this was in the early 1990s) that whatever tools they were using would be obsolete in a few years. These guys were outraged. They did not believe me.

I think that the reality is that organizations need to use emerging development environments that offer innovation, ease of use, and sophistication that is out of reach with traditional programming languages. It is best if these emerging Web 2.0 tools can generate standard programming code (although I am skeptical that the code will represent the nuances that these tools provide). The reality is that IT organizations should understand that fads and tools will come and go. Change is a reality. Here’s a radical idea — how about retiring old code before it becomes a burden to the business.

Why are Web 2.0 vendors dreaming about PowerSoft?

January 20, 2007 1 comment

Recently I have been having dejá vu back to the days of PowerSoft. If you are old enough to remember, PowerSoft was the leader in making graphical development practical for the masses—rather than the object oriented gurus. Back in the early 1990s when PowerSoft’s product—called PowerBuilder—was in its heyday, it had been able to achieve dominance over arch rival Gupta Technology and a myriad of other long forgotten competitors. Ironically, at the time, Gupta had a much more sophisticated object oriented environment than PowerBuilder. But PowerBuilder was able to achieve leadership because the company found a way to make the traditional COBOL developer (and there were lots of them) very successful as graphical software designers. The secret was that while PowerBuilder professed to be an object oriented graphical development environment, it was actually a procedural environment that was familiar to the COBOL developer. Therefore, the skills that had made this generation of developers successful in an earlier generation provided the platform for a new career path in client/server development. Therefore, PowerBuilder took the market by storm and set the path for the early success of client/server computing.

Now, fast forward to today and the advent of Web 2.0 I am seeing lots of interesting tools such as Nexaweb, Jackbe, and Kapow. All these companies have a common strategy: they want to become the PowerBuilder of this new generation of application development environments. To create a rich, collaborative environment requires a level of sophistication that would prohibit less technical developers from participating. Therefore, just as PowerBuilder provided a way for the masses to create a graphical first generation environment, so this next generation of development tools will bring Web 2.0 to a broad audience. These web development environments provide the dynamic, stateful approach needed to create Web 2.0 environments.

I think that this movement towards Web 2.0 and these abstracted tools to support them will complete the picture of a service oriented architecture. The Web 2.0 environments will make the browser environment a full fledge participant in enterprise computing. Over time, we’ll see lots of business people creating compelling business services in this way focused on innovative, collaborative software that provides a rich client environment that provides sophisticated communications, as well as a stateful distributed computing platform. This is not an easy feat but one that some innovative players are going to grab to become the PowerBuilder of the Web 2.0 set.