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November 9, 1994


By CBR Staff Writer

Burlington, Massachusetts-based Powersoft Corp has launched version 4.0 of PowerBuilder Enterprise, its client-server development tool. Version 4.0 extends the capability of Powersoft’s money-spinner to work in Macintosh and Motif environments. This means that developers working in one environment, developing native applications for that will be able to transfer the application to either Macintosh, Motif or the traditional Windows. This version is claimed to be faster all round than version 3.0. Powersoft has also released new versions of PowerBuilder Desktop for Windows and has introduced two products: InfoMaker for use with the Enterprise product and the Advanced Developer Toolkit, an add on product for the Desktop product. With this version of PowerBuilder, Powersoft is aiming at organisations planning to move mission-critical applications into client-server environments. Powersoft says criticism levelled at PowerBuilder, that it is incapable of scaling to enterprise-wide applications, has always been misplaced: PowerBuilder is just a tool and while it now works much faster, that speed can do nothing to improve networks or databases on which it might work, says the company. It does admit that part of the disappointment with the product resulted from its failure to explain PowerBuilder properly, but says that even with version 3, 300 to 400 user applications has not been uncommon. The product has been in beta sites since June and although Powersoft will not say what the largest application being developed has been, it is confident that version 4.0 will silence the critics. All the products announced in this raft of technologies are based on a core object technology that is designed to make them interoperable. PowerBuilder Enterprise 4.0 for Windows is being touted as the graphical user interface, object-oriented development tool for corporate customers to build mission-critical applications. This version has improved native communications for Oracle, Sybase and Informix, the ability to integrate Notes databases and an integrated C++ Class Builder that, for the first time, uses the C/C++ compiler technology PowerSoft acquired when it purchased Watcom Corp in 1993 (CI No 2,293). It has support for Object Linking & Embedding version 2.0. And Powersoft says developer productivity will be enhanced by version 4.0; one of the criticisms of the previous product had been that it was not that easy to use and slow compared with rival offerings. Aid rapid development Countering that, there is now PowerTips, text that contains the name and function of toolbar icons; PowerPanel, direct access to painters and global options, improved dialogs and keyboard control. There are also code examples to aid rapid development and two template applications, one a personal information manager, the other a financial record keeper. It also has the company’s Client-server Open Development Environment that enables integration with a variety of other companies’ client-server technology. The Motif version will be up on Solaris, AIX and HP-UX systems. Automatic cross system transferability is, says the company about 99% there: developers can work in any environment and then transfer the excutable to the environment of choice rather than the finished application. Powersoft says that thanks to an optimised compiler, code generated runs faster than before and because the database has been compiled with the Watcom C compiler the development environment also runs faster. There will also be a PowerBuilder Team/ODBC for Windows that will be a version 3.1 product aimed at team development and will have Open Database Connectivity with several databases. The Desktop version is aimed at the single developer working at departmental level. The Advanced Developer Toolkit includes a library of re-usable objects; an image editor; an install disk-builder; and support for database stored procedures, NetWare services and pen computing. The toolkit is standard with the Enterprise and Team offerings. InfoMaker for Windows is a personal data access and information managemen

t tool that enables users to develop queries and reports as well as extending applications without programming. It is based on the PowerViewer and PowerMaker products. It offers users a local data warehouse, once again based on the Watcom SQL database, with communications to a number of data sources provided by the Data Pipeline. Users can shift data from database to database with this. InfoMaker has been designed for corporate users and can be configured to allow limited or full access. PowerBuilder Enterprise will be shipped in stages to allow adequate beta testing, says the company; the 16-bit and 32-bit Windows version will be available in December, UKP3,300; Macintosh in the first quarter of next year; and Motif in the second. All products are shipped on CD as is the documentation. PowerBuilder Team/ODBC costs UKP2,300; PowerBuilder Desktop for Windows costs UKP500, the bargain-basement price having evaporated now that Powersoft feels it has established a user base; the Toolkit costs UKP430; printed documentation for these two products is sold separately. InfoMaker for Windows will ship in December and will cost UKP180; for that users get 30 days of installation and communications support. The Macintosh version will ship in the first quarter next year. – Maya Anaokar

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