1. John Hnat
  2. PowerBuilder
  3. Monday, 07 January 2019

Hello everybody,

My question is for ISVs who have current products based on PB.  What are your plans moving forward?

Are you planning to investigate PB2018 (or, I should say, PB2019) to leverage your existing code in C#?

Are you going to continue developing in PB for the time being? 

Or are you/have you already started rewriting your applications in a different language?

Here's our situation.  We're a U.S.-based ISV, about 300 employees, growing like crazy.  We produce accounting software for the construction industry.  Our flagship product is a PB-based client-server app with roughly 6,500 clients scattered around the country.  Probably 80% of those client are premises-based; the rest are SaaS (or, really, Desktop-as-a-Service; we use Remote Desktop to allow them to launch the application; so while it is nominally browser-based, it really isn't).

Fortunately, we have a pretty good moat around our product -- excellent reputation in the industry, not a lot of competition, high barriers to entry.  But management is concerned about the flagship product's long-term viability.  Some of it is of the "what happens if Appeon goes away" variety, and some of it is "is the day ever going to come when we must absolutely have a true web-based application" variety.

In recent years, we have developed ancillary pieces to our main application; those have been web-based C# applications.  We are also developing some brand-new applications, also in C#.  To that end, we've added dozens of C# developers over the past few years (we still have about 15-18 PB developers).  So C# is going to be a big part of our future no matter what.

But the question is what to do with our flagship, giant (~ 3 million lines of code and thousands of DW objects) PB application.  A rewrite from scratch would be a giant undertaking; although there is some support within management to start over in C#, the larger sentiment seems to be "let's exhaust every possibility for using/re-using what we can from the existing PB code."

So that leads us back to the question:  what are the rest of you ISVs doing?  What are your plans?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts -- I'm hoping that this question leads to a good discussion.

John Hnat Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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David - thanks for your thoughtful answer.  I do have some follow-up questions, ones that are probably better handled off-line.

Please feel free to reach me at jhnat@foundationsoft.com.  (I didn't immediately see a PM facility, so here we are.)

Thanks!

 

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  1. Thursday, 10 January 2019
  2. PowerBuilder
  3. # 1
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Hi John

We have two products in the hospitality market space that are PB based applications. There was a time when people were really pushing for web based applications but that has now reduced. With mobile devices and windows 10 people are calling everything an App, they are not at all phased by having to download and install an App either. This means that PB is coming back into the "trendy" market space. With some cleaver work on your UI you can make your windows PB application look like a modern Windows 10 App and suddenly the user acceptance is much higher.

With regards to PB2017R3 and PB2019, we will be migrating the products to PB2017R3 this year, we will also be Beta testing PB2019 in order to access the viability of the "Thin Client" concept using C# as the back-end business application. I'm not suggesting that we are going to rewrite everything, but leverage specific business functions in this way in order to change the paradigm. Currently some of the code in our products is already written in C#, specifically for web based UI functions and web APIs. I can see the benefit of using PB DW as the data access layer in C# applications, if only because of the performance benefits. But we need to test that in practice to see how effective it really is when wrapped in an MVC web application.

It is my belief that PB is heading in the right direction and with an App that is deployed from the cloud and automatically updates across all client platforms it will be a winner. Be that App Fat or Thin is just a matter of preference and functionality. As an example our Hotel Property Management system "Mainstay Professional" is an on site PC based application, Hotels cannot afford to not check customers in & out and process their bills just because their internet is down. They do not want a Cloud based solution, however for the On Line Bookings they want a Cloud based hosted solution which we provide through a C# MVC solution. The Cloud solution synchronises back to the on site PB system when the internet is available. This proves to be a very flexible and functional approach.

On another front we are a Sage Approved Developer and develop bespoke add-ons for Sage Accounts, we develop these in PB2017R3. Quite simply there is nothing that can beat the productivity, ease of deployment and robustness of a simple PB PC based application. The Customers love their personal Apps and do not question the fact that it is not browser based. The App UI is designed to be quite appealing and we incorporate their logos etc to personalise the App to them. Its very simple and works.

So in conclusion and to answer your main question:

  1. We are not planning to move away from PB and do not see  the need.
  2. We are planning to change the UI for key user functions to have a more modern look and feel. And are changing the terminology that we use... it's an App not a system or  program.
  3. We are planning to utilise thin client and application server with PB in order to deliver specific functions to devices.
  4. Appeon will be successful if we support them and drive their product development by getting involved.

In my opinion the push from customers to have Browser and now Cloud based deployment has not been fully thought out. They are being sold these as "they are the new thing" and when you explain the pit falls of no internet they are quite shocked. Every deployment method has it's merit and your "Web based" RDP Solution is quite viable as a Cloud based solution.

If you have any specific questions feel free to PM me and we can discuss via email.

All the best

David Peace
Technical Director
Powersoft Computer Services Ltd.

 

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  1. Thursday, 10 January 2019
  2. PowerBuilder
  3. # 2
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