MobilePowerBuilder Goes Mobile

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Today, Sybase is announcing a mobile version of PowerBuilder called Pocket PowerBuilder. This raises a number of questions. We here at asked Sue Dunnell, product manager for PowerBuilder, a number of questions regarding this new beta. While PowerBuilder was “the tool” several years ago, it seems that many companies have moved on to other tools and platforms. Is PowerBuilder still being used for new development?

Sue Dunnell: PowerBuilder is being used for new application development in both distributed and client/server computing environments. In fact, customers have been returning to PowerBuilder after trying to move to Java. Many found Java too difficult and too time consuming to learn and use. As a 3GL, it [java] is just not as easy to use a 4GL like PowerBuilder.

Frequently, customers built prototypes in PowerBuilder for their proposed Java applications. Now, with some of the new PowerBuilder functionality, customers can build applications in PowerBuilder and access data in 3rd party application servers.

Dev: What types of new applications are being built with PowerBuilder?

Dunnell: Applications are being developed in a variety of horizontal and vertical markets including field force automation, manufacturing, healthcare and retail.

Dev: Today you are announcing the beta of Pocket PowerBuilder. What are the new features being provided? How will Pocket PowerBuilder development differ from standard application development?

Dunnell: Feature highlights of Pocket PowerBuilder include:

  • Providing PowerBuilder developers with the same best-in-class rapid application development (RAD) platform that they rely upon today. Pocket PowerBuilder delivers the first highly productive 4GL IDE for mobile development.
  • Extending the patented Sybase DataWindow. to mobile environments, enabling dynamic data access with display formatting and data manipulation capabilities – all without coding.
  • Tight integration with SQL Anywhere Studio, the market-leading mobile database and enterprise synchronization solution, simplifying the creation of database-powered mobile enterprise applications.

Pocket PowerBuilder allows for complete design, development and debugging in a single environment. It has automatic deployment capabilities to the Windows CE Emulator as well as Windows CE devices.

Dev: The Pocket PowerBuilder beta supports Microsoft Windows CE. Are there any plans to support other mobile platforms — specifically the Palm OS?

Dunnell: The first release of Pocket PowerBuilder will target Windows CE-based devices. Future versions may support other platforms based on market demand.

Dev: What is the overhead of a PowerBuilder application built for a Windows CE device?

Dunnell: Pocket PowerBuilder provides the most sophisticated set of controls available for mobile developers. Each application being developed typically requires between 20 and 100 KB of space. This is in addition there is also a virtual machine that is shared among all applications.

Dev: How is the performance? How is it expected to be with the released product?

Dunnell: Performance has been good so far and we have been getting a lot of positive feedback from early testers.

Dev: What types of mobile applications do you see with this product? Or, do you see extensions of current applications or new development?

Dunnell: There is a combination of new development and current applications being extended. Since Pocket PowerBuilder allows for existing PowerBuilder code to be reused, application developers can quickly extend their existing applications to new platforms. Since the development environment looks and feels the same as PowerBuilder, new applications can be developed with ease, allowing PowerBuilder developers to use their existing skills.

The main area of application development is expected to be around enterprise applications including field force automation, manufacturing, healthcare and retail.

Dev: What is the “coolest” thing about this new beta?

Dunnell: The DataWindow is the coolest part of the beta. It allows developers to create sophisticated, data-driven mobile applications with minimal coding. The data can be represented in a variety of formats using simple drag-and-drop development!

Dev: When is the final product expected to be released?

Dunnell: The general availability of Sybase Pocket PowerBuilder is currently scheduled for Q3 2003.

For more information about this new beta, you can go to For the full press release, go to

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