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PowerBuilder: Article

It's About the DataWindow!

It's About the DataWindow!

Something about the DataWindow gives me a warm fuzzy feeling, like a sleeping child with a security blanket.

The DataWindow has been like a good luck charm hanging on my rearview mirror. It's nostalgic and familiar; a symbol of projects past and present; a reminder of programmers I worked long hours with and haven't seen in a long time; a sign that in troubled times "everything is going to be okay." With this in mind, how much space is PBDJ devoting to the DataWindow? Really?

Taking the advice of a few PBDJ readers, I took a careful look at the magazine's content. I like to think we're keeping the PowerBuilder/EAS community abreast on new industry developments - we are. I'd like to think our writers have provided wisdom and insight into new technologies that will eventually impact most of us - they have. In addition, I'd like to think this magazine is in the forefront of learning and testing all the exciting changes and additions we will enjoy with the upcoming release of PowerBuilder 9 - we're in the process. With all this in mind, what's my point? Even with all this content and pending developments within PowerBuilder, there's something missing. As one reader bluntly (and correctly) wrote me: "It's about the DataWindow, stupid."

DataWindows. Remember them? They're old, right - from the administration of George I - so why should this magazine shift some of its focus to something that has already been written about so much? After all, hasn't anything and everything useful about the DataWindow already been discussed? A very good question.

After some research I came up with the answer: no. There are two main reasons for this. First and foremost, there's been a spike in PowerBuilder usage over the last 18 months. My observations, although unscientific, confirm this. The demand for PowerBuilder training and PowerBuilder-related book sales have (slightly) increased. Certainly nothing to write home about, but an encouraging development nonetheless. With increased PowerBuilder usage comes, of course, new PowerBuilder projects. New projects need programmers, and many of those programmers are looking at PowerBuilder for the first time.

That doesn't mean all PBDJ's content should become basic and aimed at "the lowest common denominator." It does mean that there's a ripple (perhaps not a wave) of new PowerBuilder programmers who will soon be joining all us crusty dinosaurs. (All of us, in the latter part of our careers, become scary dinosaurs [like Strom Thurmond or the Rolling Stones].) We should welcome them. We have to remember that we don't own PowerBuilder geekdom. There's plenty of room for everyone.

If you surf the Net and visit sites where questions about PowerBuilder are posted, the questions on DataWindows and PowerBuilder in general are getting basic - at least from an expert's point of view. This leads me to believe that the posters are new PowerBuilder programmers, or that, yes, there is a need to cover material that may make a few of the "experts" yawn.

Second, there has not been any major third-party publication on PowerBuilder and DataWindows since version 7.0 - over three years ago. As most of you know, there have been significant changes and advances in PowerBuilder since then. We should do our best to cover them here.

In closing, I'm not saying that we haven't published good DataWindow articles - we have. I'm saying we can do a better job representing DataWindow content consistently on a monthly basis. It may take a couple of issues, but once we get the formula worked out, I'm confident we can balance our DataWindow content so it will be informative for the expert as well as educational for the beginner/intermediate programmer.

At any rate, most of us can agree that the DataWindow is a primary reason why PowerBuilder is a better client/ server language than any of its competitors. At the end of the day, even with all the advancements and improvements, I now say to myself: "It's about the DataWindow, stupid."

More Stories By Bob Hendry

Bob Hendry is a PowerBuilder instructor for Envision Software Systems and a frequent speaker at national and international PowerBuilder conferences. He specializes in PFC development and has written two books on the subject, including Programming with the PFC 6.0.

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