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From the Editor-in-Chief of PowerBuilder Developer's Journal

Bruce Armstrong

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Eating Your Own Dog Food

Eating Your Own Dog Food

You might remember from my TechWave 2004 notes, "eating your own dog food" is my favorite means of describing a company using its own products in its public interface to their customers (e.g., their Web site). If a company expects their customers to put faith in the utility and stability of the product, they should be showing that same confidence in the product themselves.

Well, we have another excellent example of Sybase doing that. Are you familiar with the search engine on Sybase? No, not that search engine! That was the old one that ran slowly and gave you useless results. Sybase recently replaced that with a search engine built on EAServer accessing data stored in Adaptive Server Enterprise (which, incidentally, is the same technology combination I used for the newsgroup search engine on teamsybase.com, but I digress...). The end result is search results that come back quickly and are actually highly relevant. Perhaps Sybase could sell the solution to Microsoft's MSDN site, which could certainly use it.

SmartPhone Review
The folks at eWeek just did a review of the Motorola MPX220 that I was so hot for a while back (they also reviewed one Palm and one BlackBerry device). One interesting note from their review was the following: "We'd love to see smartphone hardware and software vendors license SureType from RIM for inclusion in their products - the technology represents one of the best new ideas in mobile device input that we've seen in some time."

As I indicated in my last comments on the smartphone platform, the key hurdle is user input. It sounds like BlackBerry has come up with an advance in that area. Most phones use the same letter-to-number key assignments as a house phone, which requires anywhere from two to four key presses to obtain a single correct letter. The BlackBerry keyboard uses a standard QWERTY typewriter layout, with only one or two letters assigned to each key, making it much easier for the predictive software to guess which letter you are trying to type.

I also mentioned in last month's editorial that the Audiovox SMT5600 I'm now using and the Motorola MPX220 both use the mini-SD card rather than a standard-sized SD memory card. If you're as unfamiliar as I was with the mini-SD card at that time, you may not realize that the mini-SD card comes with an adapter that will allow it to work in a standard SD slot. Pretty slick.

PowerBuilder Use Survey Results
The results of the latest poll by Novalys on PowerBuilder use are in. The results are good. A lot of people are still using PowerBuilder and intend to continue doing so for some time. An increasing number are using PowerBuilder to do new development work, rather than simply maintaining existing applications. The number of developers on a particular project has increased over previous years.

What I found particularly interesting is that the majority of people are using PowerBuilder versions 8 and 9. Only slightly over 1% of the respondents indicated they were using version 10. Perhaps Unicode support was not as important as was first thought. Hopefully, version 11 will offer some more compelling reasons to migrate. Note that half the respondents indicated they will upgrade in the next year, so that may indicate people moving to version 10, just not that quickly.

Web Services Changes
The W3C and OASIS have a number of new standards for Web services. The one of particular interest to PowerBuilder developers will be XOP (XML-binary Optimized Packaging), a standard means of transmitting binary data via XML. The others - MTOM (Message Transformation Optimization Mechanism) and RRSHB (Resource Representation SOAP Header Block) - are more under-the-cover implementations to improve performance. Unfortunately, the other key headache for Web services developers is security, and those bodies are only starting to develop a common consensus on a new standard in that area.

Blue Marble
If you're into Geographical Information Systems, you might want to take a look at Blue Marble. They just announced a free evaluation version of their toolkit that "will allow developers to embed sophisticated image reprojection and tiling in their applications in a matter of minutes with just a few function calls."

Microsoft MVP Program...
Rumors that Microsoft was going to do away with their MVP program (essentially the equivalent of TeamSybase) have been put to rest. Actually, their program is just a bit bigger. There are 30 TeamSybase members, and there are something like 2,600 Microsoft MVPs. Part of what was haunting the MVP program is their recent rapid growth: three years ago there were only 600 MVPs.

The MVP program was patterned after TeamSybase (actually TeamPowersoft at the time). Microsoft hosted a meeting with a number of TeamPowersoft members shortly before they launched their program. Can't take too much credit though, TeamSybase was patterned after Borland's TeamB, which has been around quite a bit longer. One big difference with the MVP program is that the memberships are only good for one year; you have to keep being reselected. TeamSybase (and TeamB) membership is continuous provided you continue to meet program requirements. For a glimpse of the early days of the MVP program, you might check out the following article on one of the first MVP summits: www.noveltheory.com/techpapers/mvp.htm.

Resource

  • My PBDJ blog: http://bruce.pbdjmagazine.com
  • Sybase articles on new search engine:
    www.sybase.com/detail?id=1034310,
    www.sybase.com/detail?id=1034309
  • Novalys poll results: www.visual-expert.com/us/info/survey_pb_2004_results.htm
  • Blue Marble: www.bluemarblegeo.com/about_us/press.php?id=79
  • Microsoft MVP program: http://mvp.support.microsoft.com
  • TeamB program: http://info.borland.com/newsgroups/teamb/
  • More Stories By Bruce Armstrong

    Bruce Armstrong is a development lead with Integrated Data Services (www.get-integrated.com). A charter member of TeamSybase, he has been using PowerBuilder since version 1.0.B. He was a contributing author to SYS-CON's PowerBuilder 4.0 Secrets of the Masters and the editor of SAMs' PowerBuilder 9: Advanced Client/Server Development.

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