PowerBuilder to Flex – a Natural Transition

Yesterday, I met yet another Java developer, and all of a sudden, he “s mentioned PowerBuilder. That very second, the conversation became a lot more warmer:

“Remember datawindows? rdquo;

“It was and still is the best RAD tool. No any other technology could beat it. rdquo;

“Forget about it! Nested reports, non-visual objects hellip; rdquo;

“Is there any bar close by? Let “s have a drink rdquo;

There is some kind of unofficial brother/sisterhood of people related to PowerBuilder. In the 90th, I spent five years programming in PB. This was the best RAD tool for business developers. I switched to Java in lsquo;98, but did not lose connections with PB developers : my wife is still doing PB for the last 10 years and I see this DataWindow painter once in a while on her laptop. PB now enjoys a steady double-digit version numbers: Sybase found it much easier to conquer double-digits in versioning than in their financial charts.

More and more industry professionals are into development of full-featured rich desktop-like applications delivered over the Web. While some PowerBuilder developers will remain faithful to their old-fashioned but bread-winning software, a large portion of the PB camp should be looking for an easy transition to another software. In my opinion, such software has arrived Adobe (formerly Macromedia) and it “s called Flex 2.

PB developers will find themselves at home in this solid environment offering an impressive library of GUI components for the fat but fast clients, so-familiar event-driven programming, drag-and-drop screen design, good IDE, debugger, integration with Java on the server, charting, etc. You create your applications using XML-based declarative language and object-oriented ActionScript 3. The compiled source code is runs under popular Flash player, which is a virtual machine available on literally every platform.

The learning curve for PB developers is not steep at all. You “ll feel yourself at home there. You can find a plethora of training materials about this technology at adobe “s Web site (watch a couple of presentation videos there), the closest upcoming seminars on Flex will take place in New York City in August, Max 2006 in Las Vegas will have a Flex track AJAX conference in Santa Clara, CA in October will have a Flex track.

Later this year, I “m planning to run a couple of Flex 2 training classes in New York City for Java and PowerBuilder enterprise developers. Let me known in advance, if interested: enrollment will be limited. Typical questions I get after such announcements are:

1. “Will I find a job using this great tool? rdquo;.

And here “s my typical answer, “I am not a con artist to guarantee employment, this is America! But I do believe that 2007 will be a year of Flex rdquo;.

2. “Are there any books to read on Flex? rdquo;.

Adobe has plenty of introductory materials and full documentation online, a book on ActionScript 3.0 is coming up in September and I “m also working with two of my friends on the advanced book on Flex .

I “m sure my former PowerBuilder students got the message. See you soon, guys

Yours truly,

Yakov Fain


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