With a two-year hiatus between versions and an eye toward competition from Java and Microsoft Corp.s Visual Basic, Sybase Inc. will ship a new version of its PowerBuilder fourth-generation language software development environment at the end of the month.
Most enhancements in PowerBuilder 8.0 make it faster for users to build and deliver applications. The Emeryville, Calif., company is also trying to help customers convert legacy applications to those enabled for the Web.
The last version of PowerBuilder was released in April 1999.
"This is the most solid in terms of the run-time engine," said Benjamin Seaver, senior programmer analyst with Dynamic Healthcare Technologies Inc., in Waltham, Mass. "The compiled application just runs without errors and without lots of compatibility problems."
Seaver, a beta customer for PowerBuilder 8.0 who until now has been building software on PowerBuilder 6.0, said he is less interested in some of the Web enhancements than in the stability and the compatibility with previous versions.
Among productivity enhancements are workspaces so users can work on multiple applications at one time; exception handling, for more object-oriented programming and the ability to process errors; and dozens of improvements to the development environment and run-time. Web enhancements include wizards to build Web sites and more drag-and-drop functionality.
PowerBuilder 8.0 also features tighter integration with Sybases EAServer, a Java 2 Enterprise Edition application server.
Tyler Cruse, principal engineer with Trellix Engineering Corp. and another beta customer for PowerBuilder 8.0, said his company is most interested in the language features, error handling, increased performance and planned upgrade of its database support.
The improved error handling "is more in line with Java and C++ and C#," said Cruse, in Dallas. "I think its important that PowerBuilder continue to be a high-end, high-productivity language."
The latest version of PowerBuilder enables users to build traditional Windows clients, Web applications and components for EAServer.
"A lot of companies are looking for migration paths," said Susan Dunnell, project manager for Sybase, in Concord, Mass. "We can address [needs] for new development and at the same time maintain the legacy applications you have and integrate those."
Pricing for the Enterprise Edition is $2,995 for a developer license. Other versions will be released in the next quarter.