Sybase Retools PowerBuilder for Web Services

Version 9.0 will include support for Java Server Pages and third-party application server platforms.

Sybase Inc. is ramping up the support for XML and Web services in the beta versions of its PowerBuilder rapid application development tool.

The beta version of PowerBuilder 9.0, announced Monday at Sybases TechWave 2002 user and developer conference in San Diego, includes new features such as XML importation and support for JSPs (Java Server Pages) and for third-party application server platforms, such as IBMs WebSphere and BEA Systems Inc.s WebLogic.

Sybase, of Dublin, Calif., plans to ship PowerBuilder 9.0 in the first half of 2003, officials said. Information on PowerBuilder 9.0 beta can be found at

Sybase is positioning PowerBuilder 9.0 as a Web services and XML services tool. And future versions of the beta will reflect this, the company said.

Sybase officials said PowerBuilder 9.0 will enable developers to build, publish and consume Web services based on the Simple Object Access Protocol and Web Services Description Language standards. The product also will support Microsoft Corp.s .Net through Web services, they said.

"PowerBuilder 9 is both an XML development tool as well as a Web Services development tool now—definitely a case of teaching an old dog new tricks," said Jason Bloomberg, an analyst with ZapThink LLC, of Cambridge, Mass. "Its clear that Sybase is aiming this version of PowerBuilder at their established enterprise customers who area already PowerBuilder users."

But, Bloomberg said, many of those customers also use Java 2 Enterprise Edition and .Net. and want to leverage their PowerBuilder expertise either to build JSPs, XML or Web services in the .Net framework. Sybase wants to support Web services interfaces their product suite, rather than have a separate Web services product strategy, he said.

"The PowerBuilder upgrade fits in well with this evolutionary approach to Web services," Bloomberg said. "What remains to be seen is how much of their Web services strategy is reactive to customer demand, and how much is proactive, with a strategic view of the role of Web services and service-oriented architectures down the road."

Bloombergs partner at ZapThink, Ron Schmelzer, said: "It will be interesting to see how Sybase is positioning PowerBuilder. Anything at version 9.0 is showing either longevity or age. Or both."

John Rymer, an analyst with Giga Information Group Inc., in Santa Clara, Calif., said PowerBuilder will only be of interest " to the installed base. It is not a tool that has a lot of interest as a strategy development direction in the majority of companies."

Other enhancements to PowerBuilder 9.0 include source control enhancements and integration with source code control tools, support for the PowerBuilder Native Interface and new scripting capabilities.