Click here to close now.


API Journal Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Chris Witeck , Liz McMillan, Jason Bloomberg

Related Topics: PowerBuilder

PowerBuilder: Article

New Features in PowerBuilder 11.5 – Part 2

A look at the improvements in GUI functionality

This is the second part of an ongoing series about the new features that were added in PowerBuilder 11.5. In the first part, we looked at the Federal Desktop Core Configuration (FDCC) and the impact it had on developers. In this part, we're going to look at a number of the improvements in GUI functionality. We'll start that by comparing a couple of screenshots of images in DataWindows (Figure 1 and Figure 2) that demonstrate a number of these new functions.

Support for PNG Files
The first thing you may notice is that the image type (in both images) is a Portable Network Graphics (PNG) file. The PNG file format was introduced to overcome limitations of the GIF file format, most notably:

  • The compression algorithm used in GIF files is patented.
  • GIF images are limited to a 256 color depth

PNG images actually provide greater compression than GIF and provide better support for transparency. The main advantage that GIF maintains is support for animation. PNG also has advantages over JPG in that it has lossless compression and transparency support. JPG was particularly designed for photographs, and so PNG tends to render better with non-photographic material (e.g., line art, text).

PowerBuilder 11.5 adds support for PNG files in DataWindow picture controls and in standard Picture controls as well as menus, treeview controls, and toolbars.

Transparency Support
In Figure 1, you'll also notice the "Make Color Transparent" option on the popup menu. This allows you to support transparency when the underlying image format doesn't support transparency, or when the picture you're using isn't transparent in the region you want it to be.  The latter is the case here, as the background of this PNG file has been set to black. I right clicked on the background, chose "Make Color Transparent" and every occurrence of that color in the image was re-rendered as transparent.

You can also set the color manually through the Transparent Color option you see on the property tab on the right of Figure 1, or at runtime by manipulating that property.  You'll also notice the Transparency Setting  on the right property tab of Figure 1. That option is unrelated to the Transparent Color option, what it controls is the opacity of the entire image.  Setting it higher make it possible to see the control or window background behind the picture through the picture.

Gradient/Picture Backgrounds
You'll notice in Figure 2 that now that the picture has a transparent background, what is showing through is a gradient color, not a solid background. That's because PowerBuilder 11.5 adds support for specifying a gradient or picture background for the DataWindow bands. The new Brush Mode property you can see in Figure 2 controls the background, and you have an option between Solid (old style), 5 different gradient styles or the Picture option. For both Gradients and Picture backgrounds, there is a section each of the Background properties tab for controlling a wide variety of options for how they are displayed (see Figure 3 and Figure 4). In fact, it's a bit confusing at first because those areas of the property pane appear continuously, no matter which option you have selected for the Brush Mode.  But you will only see the options that you have specified in the Gradient section applied if you pick one of the Gradient brush styles, and similarily none of the Picture properties settings have any effect until you select a Picture brush style.

Take a look at the properties pane in Figure 5, and you'll see the new Tooltips options for DataWindow controls. Figure 6 shows what the tooltip looks like at runtime. You'll notice that you have a lot of control over how the tooltip displays through the properties, all of which are adjustable via runtime properties as well. Note also how many of them support expressions, as indicated by the small equals sign button to the right of the property. Any property with such an icon can be specified through an expression, so that the attribute can be dynamically driven by data within the DataWindow.

Improved 3D Rendering of Graphs
Figure 7 and Figure 8 help illustrate the next new feature, improved 3D rendering of graphs. The improvement is implemented through DirectX, so there are some runtime ramifications.  One of them is that you'll need to install DirectX on the development machine and ensure that it's also available on the machines you are deploying to.  For the development machine, Sybase provides an installer for DirectX in the Program Files\Sybase\Shared\PowerBuilder\dxre directory.  It also means that some of your older machine may not have graphics cards capable of supporting the new graph styles.  Fortunately, when that is the case the display degrades gracefully to the previous 3D format.

Rich Text Edit Control
Last but not least, PowerBuilder 11.5 introduces a new edit style called the Rich Text Edit style (see Figure 9). No longer will you have to use SELECTBLOB/UPDATEBLOB and a separate RichText control to display rich text to the end user. You can select textual data (up to the limits imposed by your database driver) in the normal datawindow select and allow the user to edit it and store it in RTF format.

Some observations.  First, see Figure 10, which shows the edit style selected in the DataWindow painter.  Note that you don't have a lot of the options for the edit style that you do for the normal Rich Text windows control.

The second, shown in Figure 11, is a Rich Text Edit Style related property that appears for the DataWIndow Control, not the DataWindow Object.  The RichText Toolbar Activiation Mode determine when the toolbar for the edit control appears.  The choices are essentially:

  • Always - display the toolbar all the time, whether the rich text edit column has focus or not
  • On Edit - only display the toolbar when the rich text edit column has focus
  • Never - don't display the toolbar, even when the rich text edit column has focus

The last option is useful either when you don't have room to show the toolbar, or if you want to implement your own toolbar. The latter is possible because of a number of methods that have been added to the DataWindow that allow you to interact with the rich text edit masked column. This option would be the path you might take in order to show a fixed toolbar. Note in Figure 7 that the toolbar is floating. There is currently no option in the rich edit control style to make the toolbar fixed to the top of the edit area. Instead, the toolbar will remember the last location it was displayed at, and the end-user can move it around as needed when it's visible.

One caveat mentioned earlier bears repeating. The rich column edit style is limited to the amount of text that your target database allows you to select in a normal SQL statement.  For some databases, this can be a rather small amount compared to the amount of data required for RTF data. RTF has a very verbose syntax.  The single paragraph shown in Figure 9 required over 40K of RTF formatted data.  When a single bitmap was included, the size mushroomed to over 400K. Currently you either need to work with a database that allows direct access to very large text data fields, or you'll need to place tight limits on the amount of data used.  Perhaps future enhancements in this area will address this limitation.

That's all for Part Two. Watch for Part Three, where we'll cover even more new functionality.

More Stories By Bruce Armstrong

Bruce Armstrong is a development lead with Integrated Data Services ( A charter member of TeamSybase, he has been using PowerBuilder since version 1.0.B. He was a contributing author to SYS-CON's PowerBuilder 4.0 Secrets of the Masters and the editor of SAMs' PowerBuilder 9: Advanced Client/Server Development.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound cha...
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, demonstrated examples of com...
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningful and actionable insights. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Paul Turner, Chief Marketing Officer at...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessions, I wanted to share some of my observations on emerging trends. As cyber security serves as a fou...
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now all corporate assets – people, objects, and spaces – can share information about themselves and thei...
Continuous processes around the development and deployment of applications are both impacted by -- and a benefit to -- the Internet of Things trend. To help better understand the relationship between DevOps and a plethora of new end-devices and data please welcome Gary Gruver, consultant, author and a former IT executive who has led many large-scale IT transformation projects, and John Jeremiah, Technology Evangelist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), on Twitter at @j_jeremiah. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound effect on the world, and what should we expect to see over the next couple of years.
The cloud. Like a comic book superhero, there seems to be no problem it can’t fix or cost it can’t slash. Yet making the transition is not always easy and production environments are still largely on premise. Taking some practical and sensible steps to reduce risk can also help provide a basis for a successful cloud transition. A plethora of surveys from the likes of IDG and Gartner show that more than 70 percent of enterprises have deployed at least one or more cloud application or workload. Yet a closer inspection at the data reveals less than half of these cloud projects involve production...
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" in this scenario: microservice A (releases daily) depends on a couple of additions to backend B (re...
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, wil...
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNub’s Data Stream Network.
Container technology is shaping the future of DevOps and it’s also changing the way organizations think about application development. With the rise of mobile applications in the enterprise, businesses are abandoning year-long development cycles and embracing technologies that enable rapid development and continuous deployment of apps. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kurt Collins, Developer Evangelist at, examined how Docker has evolved into a highly effective tool for application delivery by allowing increasingly popular Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (mBaaS) platforms to quickly crea...