As with Elevate 2020, it was online (and free) again in 2021. Given the way that COVID mutates, they're currently planning on doing Elevate 2022 virtual as well.
Once again, the registration was done through the Appeon website. I'm still waiting for the option to select several sessions and get a single ICS file for all the sessions. Minor inconvenience. It occurred to me this year that I'd also like to be able to see all the available sessions in a calendar format to help me pick and choose between sessions that are running concurrently. Also not a biggie, just a convenience.
Armeen Mazda discussed PowerBuilder in a post-pandemic future, where he talked about how PowerServer enables PowerBuilder apps to be moved in a more modern, more flexible architecture. He also stressed that enhancements are in the works for customers who will be sticking with a client/server approach.
PowerServer 2022 will include a debugger and an update to .Net Core 6, but you can get started today with PowerServer 2021.
Mark Wensel of United Insurance Group then discussed how they moved their InsurPAS application to a cloud-native app in a few weeks.
Then there was a 10 min coffee break with a countdown timer
Julie Jiang then discussed the PowerBuilder roadmap. Next major version after 2022 will be either 2024 or 2025.
4 focus areas in enhancements: Core Features, Dev Productivity, Modern UI and Cloud.
Some of the new features in Core Features include native SMTP and FTP.
Developer Productivity enhancements include modernizing the PowerBuilder IDE, 64-bit debugging, cloud app debugging, cross-OS debugging and remoted debugging.
In the Modern UI category, planned enhancements include tabbed document interface and graph DataWindow
For SnapDevelop, Modern UI enhancements include support for other UI technologies, including React, Angular, etc.
In the Cloud category, enhancements include faster performance and unified debugging as well as integration of Kubernetes.
Julie then discussed some of the results of their recent survey of PowerBuilder customers. She indicated that they would continue to do this on an annual basis.
Chris Pollach then did a sneak peak of PowerBuilder 2022. He demoed the new tabbed interface or the IDE, the resizable dialogs, regular expressions in the search, the jump option and debugging deployed PowerServer code.
Jianxin Zhang of Dou Yee International Pte Ltd discussed how they migrated a legacy ERP application that uses the PFC framework to the cloud. They deployed to Azure App Service on Linux, which was half the cost of deploying to Windows in the Azure environment.
Finally, there was a Question and Answer session based on questions that were pre-collected during the registration process.
After the keynote there was a 30-minute break before the 1-hour Chat Cafe, but many of us headed over there early and started chatting.
After that the conference broke into two session tracks, one for PowerServer and one for PowerScript/C# development. I attended a presentation on "Applying Scrum to PowerBuilder Projects" by Gian Luca of Enable Development. It was largely a tutorial on what Scrum was and really didn't get much into the details on how to apply it though. Next (for me) was "Themifying a Mature PowerBuilder Application: Aging Gracefully in a New Skin" by Ronnie Po of Morpheon. That was followed by "Google Maps - Places API" by Kevin Ridley of Aomega Solutions LLC. Both sessions were excellent and really dived into the details.
All of the breakout sessions included a 10-minute Q&A chat afterwards. The slides and sample code (if any) were also immediately available from the resources area of the page.
Next up was "Creating Build and Release Pipelines Using OrcaScript in Azure DevOps" by Miller Rhodes of Intertech Consulting. Quite interesting, as I hadn't gotten that far into Azure yet. His samples were based on OrcaScript and the PBC compiler. The new PBAutoBuild option in PowerBuilder 2021 should make it even simpler. I then watched as much of "Step by Step: Migrating PowerScript Functionality to a RESTful Web API to Store/Read Compressed PDF Documents" by Alex Riofrio of DORA Sistemas as I could. The issue is that my first session as a presenter started about 10 minutes before the end of Alex's session. My first (and only) session as a presenter for Monday was "PowerServer 2021: Adapting Database Logins". Then it was off to watch "Data Visualization Using the PowerBuilder Datawindow Control" by Buck Woolley of Dw-eXtreme. He demoed a graphical network editor he created. As always, I'm blown away with what he's able to do with a DataWindow.
That was my last live session of the day, but I went back and watched a replay of the "PFC 'Lite' - Stripping Down the PFC" session my Matthew Balent of Concentra. That one ran concurrent with the session I was presenting, so I wasn't able to watch it live. What's great about the YouTube streaming is that the sessions are available on YouTube immediately after they end. For the keynotes I was able to see the chat that occurred during the live session as well, but that doesn't seem to be enabled for the breakout sessions.
I started off the second day with the second of my own presentations: "PowerServer 2021: Integrating Third Party Authentication". Then I watched most of "RunTime FunTime - Adding Column(s) to Your DataWindow SQL and Display at Runtime" by Mike Searer of SBT. My third session to present, "PowerServer 2021: Performance Tuning", started before Mike was done.
Then the Chat Cafe started up right as my session was ending. After the Chat Cafe, I went over to "Catching the Runtime Error in the Act - Tracing and Profiling Your Application at Runtime" by John Strano of Intertech Consulting. That was followed by a nap! The conference was taking place on East Coast USA time, and so I was getting up at 5AM to be ready for it to start at 6AM my time. We may be doing it virtually, but I'm still getting to experience the jet lag that I normally have at the conference.
I had two sessions after that, the first was "PowerServer 2021: How to Deploy to Amazon Web Services" and the second was "PowerServer 2021: Using a Single Sign-On Solution for PowerServer and Other Apps". I had one more session to do, but I also had a meeting in Orange County (I'm in Los Angeles County) 30 minutes after it ended, so after my next to last session I drove to Orange County and then did my last session ("PowerServer 2021: How to Deploy to Azure") from the road. That meant I had to miss watching live the "Optimizing Automated Testing for PowerBuilder, PowerServer and PowerClient" session by Brian Le Suer, of Zeenyx Software. I'll watch that sometime later this week in the replays as well as other session I missed that are of interest.
I can't think of anything (other than a couple of minor enhancements to registration process) that I would recommend changing in future conferences. I think the 10-minute Q&A after each session and the 1-hour Chat Cafe in the middle of each day worked great. For me it made it feel like I was able to do some of the networking that normally occurs between sessions, at meals and at the special event that I felt was missing in last year’s conference.
Actually, one thing. None of the session recordings (or those I've viewed so far) show the chat that is occurring during Q&A. So the last 10 minutes of each recording is just the Q&A and the background music they play during it and nothing going on. It would have been nice to have captured the Q&A in the recording. You can see that in the last 10 minutes of Brian's presentation.
And that brings up my last comment, I'll let you decide for yourself whether it's good or bad. They played that same song in the background for the Q&A for every session. By my count I sat through that for 10+ sessions (I wasn't able to attend some sessions to the very end). Hours after the conference was over, I could still hear that tune playing in my head!
12/09/2021 Update: The Q&A chat appears in the recording when you view them in Youtube. It's only disabled when you view it in the Appeon web site.