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Um, Powerbuilder and Appeon?!

The organization I work for is considering building an enterprise reporting system based on PowerBuilder, together with "Appeon" which is a tool that converts PowerBuilder code into a J2EE web application.  This is an important application that is expected to have a long life.

The guy pushing it is knows a great deal about PowerBuilder, but very little about other languages or platforms.  I don't know much about Powerbuilder or Appean, but I'll admit I am predudiced against them (as I suspect are many JoS readers.)

My question is for people with first hand experience with this stuff: does it work? do you trust it?     


Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Why are you biased about something you don't know about?  Find out.  Powerbuilder is a great client server tool.
And it is pretty good at building reports  But it was not designed as a web tool. Appeon (which I have not used) claims to convert PB apps to the web but the first version did not support all of Powerbuilder and as is usually the case the parts left out are important.

Having said that, the question should what is the best solution for your company.  Find out what other reporting solutions are available and evaluate them. 

The major concern I would have with this solution is that you would be building it from scratch.  I would have the same concerns about building a report system with Java or C#  - Isn't there something I can buy to do this.  I also would insist on seeing Appeon work as it is new.

If you have a lot of existing PB reports this might be a way to get them on the web with minimal changes, but I would suggest Terminal server as an alternative to publishing the reports on the web.  I have seen that approach work well to move Powerbuilder to the web.

Finally, for what its worth Sybase is supposed to be porting Powerbulder to dot net.

John McQuilling
Wednesday, November 19, 2003

I don't know what Appeon is using, but I remember years ago as a Corel employee working on a remoting vaporware product that Sybase was planning using our product to "web enable" their PowerBuilder.  Web enabling basically meant screen scraping a fat client with something similar to Citrix metaframe.

I'm pretty certain Appeon does something all together different, but I am not a fan of this UI paradigm.  Running a fat client inside a web browser is a bad idea (tm).  Just the thought of having a windows looking menu bar within the web browser gives me the creeps. 

Also running multiple automous instances of fat clients on the server is horribly unscalable.  Imagine running 30 instances of Word.  That is what Metaframe does, and I suspect this product does something similar. 

If they want a web app, I would suggest using web tools.  It is hard for me to believe someone would put all their eggs into the strange basket of a startup supporting a dying product.

christopher baus (
Wednesday, November 19, 2003

I all depends on wether you have legacy Datawindow stuff or starting clean.

It is amazing how is converging to the datawindow. The datawindow gives you a local relational database which you can synch back to source which is similar to the approach. Only with datawindow you can do full SQL not a sorry subset like and the comparable java approaches.

For pure reporting datawindow still rocks.

Appeon uses all the late XHTML/CSS/XSTL/XML with javascript to give you a rich interactive report on your browser.

If you starting clean you know exactly how to set up your datawindows so that appeaon can consume them. This is as good an approach as any other your productivity may just be much higher if you understand the paradigm

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

I admited I know little about the tools, but my predudice is based on Chrisopher's point : a "startup supporting a dying product."  Also, there is the problem of finding people with experience working on either or both, or are willing to invest the time to learn such obscure tools.  This is a real problem - for example, it is next to impossible to find Delphi developers in our area, and we are consequently looking at gradually migrating some Delphi apps to dot net.

I'm not sure canned reporting tools are the ticket for us. We don't need to just just define 600 premade reports and make them available via the web. On the other hand a full- blown client OLAP tool like PowerPlay would be overkill in terms of training burden and licencing costs. The users need to do ad hoc drill down on dimensions and across facts on a dimensional database we have set up.   

But thanks for the comments - it looks like I should give this thing a more serious look.


Wednesday, November 19, 2003

They've been saying that PowerBuilder is a dying product for at least 5 years now.  I first heard it with version 6.5.  The next release is version 10.

If you are just doing reports I don't see why you need to put the whole app on the web.  Why not just use web datawindows?

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

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