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Sybase revamps PowerBuilder

With its PowerBuilder 6.0, Sybase is making good on its promise to deliver Web-ready tools to corporate application developers.

Sybase (SYBS) is making good on its promise to deliver Web-ready development tools to its users.

The company today announced PowerBuilder 6.0, a new version of its corporate application development tool that supports the creation of component software.

Sybase also said it will deliver a suite of its development tools, called PowerStudio Enterprise, later this year.

Like other client/server tool makers, Sybase is moving as quickly as possible to adopt the Web. PowerBuilder 6.0 includes additional tools that 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, 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.

Other component support includes the ability to generate Java, C++, and CORBA-compliant components.

The ActiveX and Java support will enter beta testing later this year; a CORBA code generator is promised for early next year.

Also included in PowerBuilder 6.0 is a new code debugger, enhancements to the tool's Data Window, and support for Microsoft's OLE-based data access technology.

PowerBuilder 6.0 will also mark the debut of a new PowerBuilder architecture that will allow the company to ship incremental updates, without forcing developers to install and learn an entirely new version.

For instance, Sybase plans to ship support for COM, Java, and other technologies as downloadable plug-in enhancements.

PowerBuilder 6.0 will run the AIX and HP-UX Unix operating systems, in addition to the current Windows 95, Windows NT, Mac OS, and Solaris support.

The tool will ship later this year. It is priced at $299 for a stripped-down Desktop version; $1,295 for a Professional edition that includes additional Web and database access tools; and $2,995 for an Enterprise version that includes the company's Jaguar CTS component transaction middleware and additional database tools.

The PowerStudio Enterprise bundle will include the PowerBuilder 6.0 Enterprise edition; PowerSite, a rapid application development tool for building Web applications, set to enter beta testing in 30 days; PowerJ Enterprise, the company's tool for building Java, Java applets, and JavaBeans applications; Power++ Enterprise, a C++ development package; and Jaguar CTS middleware.

PowerStudio Enterprise is priced at $5,995. PowerBuilder users who subscribe to the company's update subscription program can purchase the bundle for $3,495.

Sybase executives describe the suite as a one-stop package for developers building multi-tier, Web client, and thin-client systems using Java.

While PowerStudio at first blush seems targeted at Microsoft's Visual Studio development tool package, Sybase executives said they are aiming at the company's existing base of high-end developers.

"VisualStudio is aimed at lower-end developers. We are focused on enterprise developers building business applications," said Bill Bartow, director of development tools product marketing.

VisualStudio also supports only Windows operating systems. The Visual Studio bundle includes Visual Basic 5.0, Visual C++ 5.0, Visual J++ 1.1, Visual InterDev 1.0, and other tools, and is priced at $999. An Enterprise edition adds the SQL Server database and Microsoft Transaction Server and is priced at $1,499.