Like other client-server tool makers, Sybase is moving as quickly as possible to adopt the Web. PowerBuilder version 6.0 will include additional tools to make it easier for developers to build new Web applications and to make older client-server systems Web-ready.
The tool, developed under the code-name "Panther," is being revamped to compliment Sybase's new Adaptive Server database architecture, announced in April by supporting the development of COM (Component Object Model), CORBA (Common Object Request Broker Architecture) components
PowerBuilder 6.0, now entering widespread beta testing and slated to ship later this year, includes the ability to package the PowerBuilder client run-time software as an ActiveX component, allowing it to be distributed across the Internet and corporate intranets.
The upgrade also includes a new code debugger, enhancements to the tool's Data Window, and support for Microsoft's OLE-based data access technology, said Cathy Col, senior development product manager at Sybase.
PowerBuilder 6.0 will also mark the debut of a new PowerBuilder architecture that will allow the company to ship incremental updates to the tool without forcing developers to install and learn an entirely new version.
Sybase calls the component development feature the Component Factory. Out-of-the-box, version 6.0 will generate distributed PowerBuilder components and C++ components. Later this year, Sybase will begin beta testing COM and DCOM (Distributed COM) component generation tools, Col said.
CORBA and Java support will be added later this year, or early next year, Col said.
The components complement the development of three-tier applications which use a middle-tier component transaction server, such as Sybase's own PowerBuilder Server or Jaguar CTS, or Microsoft's Transaction Server.
One feature that won't make the initial 6.0 release is thin-client Java support. According to Col, by year's end PowerBuilder will be able to generate a very small Java proxy client which can be installed on client machines to execute PowerBuilder Java components. The components will be doled out from a PowerBuilder Server application.
Sybase has also broadened platform support with version 6.0, adding AIX and HP-UX to the list of supported operating systems. PowerBuilder currently runs on Windows 95, Windows NT, Mac OS, and Solaris.
Pricing has not been announced. The currently shipping PowerBuilder 5.0 Enterprise is priced at $2,995 for a Windows version.