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

Bruce Armstrong

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PBDJ Editorial — Introducing DataWindow.NET 2.0 and Looking Ahead

PBDJ Editorial — Introducing DataWindow.NET 2.0 and Looking Ahead

This month we'll take an in-depth look at the new features introduced or existing features enhanced in DataWindow.NET 2.0. In summary, DataWindow.NET 20 includes the following:

  • Support for the .NET Framework 2.0.
  • Accepts DataSets and DataTables as data sources (see Figure 1).
  • Allows indexer access (i.e., dot notation) to DataWindow data.
  • Extends the precision of the decimal datatype to 28 digits and lets them be used as DataWindow arguments.
  • Introduces new reporting properties and functionality, including auto-size height on all parts of a DataWindow and suppression of group headers on page breaks.
  • Introduces a new presentation style for Windows applications, the TreeView, for easily presenting and updating heirachical data.
  • Updates support for database connectivity, including ADO.NET-managed providers for ASE and Oracle and a native driver for ASE 15.
  • Adds a new DatePicker edit mask for putting calendar functionality into a data field.
  • Uses a script callback method so page naviation can be done in Web applications without a postback to the server.
  • Adds a Page Navigation Bar for Web applications.
  • Enhances the DropDownDataWindows used in Web applications.
  • Adds SelectRow, IsSelected, FindNextSelectedRow, and SetRowFocusIndicator methods.
  • Adds support for rendering the groupboxes and rectangles in Web applications.
  • Adds WebResourceFile enumeration for the JavaScriptOption so JavaScript files can be included as part of a resource file and URLs are generated automatically.
  • Updates icons.
That's not to say that DataWindow.NET can't stand further improvement. Sybase is already working on 2.5, which should add the following additional functionality:
  • Make the TreeView presentation style available for Web applications (currently it's only available for Windows applications).
  • Make the DataWindow Designer available as a plug-in for Visual Studio so it can be access directly in the IDE.
  • Master-Detail DataWindow.
  • Native support of auto-sort headers and auto-sizing column widths.
In addition, much needed enhancements include:
  • Web Services as a data source.
  • Support for localization.
  • Better graphing engine.
  • The ability to refer to resources (e.g., images) in a resource file.
  • The ability to pull images directly from a database.
  • Storing the DataWindow object syntax in resource files rather than PBLs.
  • Support for calling out to externally written .NET functions in computed fields and object property expressions.
  • DataWindow Designer's system tree should show the objects and columns in a DataWindow object like PowerBuilder's system tree does now.
  • A rich-text format edit style so text formatting can be applied to individual columns.
  • An argument's dialog for Drop Down DataWindows so they can be assigned to parent columns reducing the need for manual Drop Down DataWindow retrieval.
  • A TreeView presentation style that allows different data sources for each level in the hierarchy and delays retrieving child data until that child is expanded.
  • If a DataWindow object is assigned to a DataWindowControl or WebDataWindowControl, support intellisense operations for the properties of the DataWindow object.
Finally, DataWindow.NET needs to be restructured either to eliminate its dependence on unmanaged DLLs or the method used to locate those DLLs has to be enhanced. This is primarily an issue for Web applications, because currently you either have to deploy the unmanaged DLLs to a location in the system path or create a DWDOTNET20 environmental variable that points to their location. This is a departure from the normal methods used to deploy an ASP.NET application and severely limits the use of DataWindow.NET in situations where the Web site is hosted by a third party or the Web servers are managed by an internal infrastructure department that's inflexible. Along those same lines, the method used to generated PDF needs to be modified so it doesn't rely on the installation of a printer driver. Once again, it needs a deploy that doesn't not require special privileges on the server.

All that is to say that the latest version of DataWindow.NET 2.0 provides tremendous functionality, and we look forward to the additional functionality later versions will introduce.

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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