Sybase suite reaps variety of benefits

Sybase suite reaps variety of benefits

The beta version of Sybase's Enterprise Application Studio 3.0, code-named Vineyard, aptly meets the mixed architecture development challenge by providing tools to support client/server, Web, and distributed applications in a single package. This drives down development and support costs, decreases training needs, and curbs the complexity of successfully managing enterprise business processes.

I tested Enterprise Application Studio 3.0, Release Candidate 1, which contained updated versions of the PowerBuilder and PowerJ development environments. Along with the development tools, the Sybase suite includes Enterprise Application Server - which combines Jaguar CTS (component-transaction server) and PowerDynamo dynamic page engine. Other Sybase tools that round out the suite include PowerSite, Adaptive Server AnyWhere, AppModeler, and Application Integrator.

As a development tool solution, Enterprise Application Studio is a strong contender against rivals such as Microsoft's Visual Studio. However, by delivering development tools with an integ-rated application server, this Sybase suite also competes solidly in the tight application server market.

Multiple application architectures

Many rival application server solutions, such as those from Netscape, Novera, SilverStream, and others, also provide integrated development tools. But Sybase goes further than its competitors by supporting development for multiple application architectures within a single solution.

I was especially impressed with the latest update to Sybase's PowerBuilder, which I found quite powerful for building my test client/server and Web applications.

As a fourth-generation language rapid application development tool, PowerBuilder is already a formidable contender against rivals such as Microsoft's Visual Basic and Inprise's Delphi. But this latest PowerBuilder has gained a competitive edge with its updated user interface - which improves navigation - and the addition of automated developer assistance. Plus, several wizards have been added to the development environment, which will prove useful for new and experienced PowerBuilder developers.

Aside from coding improvements, PowerBuilder 7.0 also lets developers edit and test logic on the fly without redeployment. I found this enhancement to be a real time-saver. I also liked PowerBuilder's remote debugging capabilities, which enabled me to easily step through my client and server components.

Deployment with PowerBuilder 7.0 is also quite simple and flexible. Components are packaged and automatically installed, and PowerBuilder supports deployment of components over either Enterprise Application Server or Microsoft's Transaction Server.

The PowerJ upgrade sports useful updates for Java developers. Among these are Java2 support, a performance-tuning tool, visual form inheritance, JavaBean building, and source-code browsing facilities.

Sybase still needs to smooth out some beta glitches in PowerJ prior to the planned midyear release. My beta copy of PowerJ displayed garbage characters on the screen while I was creating my test applications. However, this had no impact on the applications I created - it was just distracting. Sybase is aware of this glitch and is working on a resolution prior to release.

Sybase should also consider revamping the PowerJ development interface. When compared with rivals, such as Inprise's JBuilder and Symantec's Visual Cafe, the PowerJ interface quickly becomes cluttered - and I felt less productive because of this.

Streamlining the various pieces of the development interface (perhaps using a tabbed metaphor) would be an improvement. Sybase officials indicated that future plans do include a more common development interface design for both PowerJ and PowerBuilder.

PowerJ's updated compiler performed well during my tests. The new version is compatible with Java Development Kit 1.1 and supports inner classes. Other enhancements include the addition of Swing versions of the KL Group components, such as Chart Lite and Table Lite.

Integrated application server

Developers using either PowerBuilder or PowerJ will find that it is easier to access corporate data. The DataWindow support already found in PowerBuilder has been expanded in this suite to include DataWindow for HTML, DataWindow for ActiveX, and DataWindow for Java.

Both PowerBuilder and PowerJ tightly integrate with Sybase's Enterprise Application Server. The updated application server supports both Component Object Model and CORBA models and adds native Oracle connectivity and Extensible Markup Language, or XML, generation and parsing. In addition, Enterprise Application Server supports Secure Sockets Layer for mixed clients - including HTML, ActiveX, C++, and PowerBuilder.

Like rival application servers from Oracle, SilverStream, and others, Sybase has added fail-over and load-balancing capabilities in this 3.0 release. My tests of the new availability features with a five-node Enterprise Application Server cluster proved successful during both planned and unplanned outages. The addition of fail-over and load balancing brings Sybase in line with rivals who already support these features in their application servers.

In all, the beta version of Sybase's Enterprise Application Studio 3.0 holds a lot of value to organisations as a highly capable solution for the mixed-architecture development and deployment challenge. IT sites that need flexibility to support Web, client/server, and distributed applications without the added costs that multiple solutions bring should definitely evaluate Enterprise Application Studio when it is released later this year.

What's new in Enterprise Application Studio 3.0PowerBuilder 7.0PowerJ 3.0Enterprise Application Server 3.0: combines Jaguar CTS and PowerDynamoAlso included:


Adaptive Server AnyWhere


Application Integrator

The Bottom Line

Enterprise Application Studio 3.0, Release Candidate 1Upgrades to PowerBuilder, PowerJ, and Enterprise Application Server neatly support development and deployment of mixed application types in a single package, while decreasing the costs.

Pros: PowerBuilder update improves developer productivity; Java enhancements to PowerJ; solid integration between development tools and Enterprise Application Server.

Cons: Minor beta bugs and easily cluttered environment in PowerJ.

Platforms: Development: Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, (Unix in second half of 1999) ; Enterprise Application Server: NT, Solaris, HP-UX, AIX. Deployment: Web, client/server, distributed and mobile application settings.

Price: Not yet available.

Ship date: First half of 1999.


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