November 26, 1996 1:30 PM ET
PowerBuilder upgrade gains Mac, Unix support; faces competition from Web
By Talila Baron

  Finally delivering on its cross-platform product strategy, the Powersoft Development Tools Division of Sybase Inc. is now shipping Macintosh and Unix versions of its PowerBuilder Enterprise 5.0.

The new tools will allow developers to create client/server applications that run on Windows, Macintosh and Unix-based desktops; partition those applications to use Windows NT or Unix server resources; and deploy applications over current LANs, WANs or intranet networks.

Until now, PowerBuilder had been designed for Windows 95 and Windows NT machines.

PowerBuilder libraries have binary compatibility across Windows, Macintosh and Unix platforms, which lets users create and maintain applications from a single source code base. In addition, Version 5.0 provides support for application partitioning, so developers can distribute objects on clients and servers across the network.

Despite Powersoft's efforts, cross-platform tools are facing increasing competition from contenders such as the Internet, said Roger Lurie, application system analyst with Arizona State University, in Tempe.

"We're doing a lot of [World Wide] Web development and will deploy applications using objects," Lurie said. This makes OS-specific tools less critical, he said.

"A year ago, when Powersoft came out with PowerBuilder 4.0 on Unix, that was important. But today, I can do graphics, forms, decision-support applications, all on the Internet," said Thomas Gagne, vice president and client application specialist at Comerica Bank, in Detroit. "I don't need a complicated interface anymore."

Comerica is moving much of its development onto the Web, Gagne said. "For many of our simpler applications, we can just call up a Web SQL thing in front of a database," he said. "You can use HTML and Java and sprinkle around the application."

Gagne said he turns to PowerBuilder for Windows or Solaris only if he has something complex to do.

The cross-platform strategy continues to be important regardless of the emergence of Web-based applications, Powersoft officials said.

"There are a lot of customers who need to deploy applications over LANs and WANs-so our ability to provide support for Unix servers is huge," said Jennifer Hetrich, product marketing manager for PowerBuilder 5.0 for Macintosh with Powersoft, in Concord, Mass.

"People are excited about the Web, but distributed computing, the enterprise, are still hugely important with or without the Internet context," she added.

PowerBuilder Enterprise 5.0 for Unix is available now for $2,995. The Mac versions of PowerBuilder Enterprise 5.0 and PowerBuilder Desktop 5.0 are also available now for $2,995 and $295, respectively.

Powersoft is at (800) 395-3525 or at www.powersoft.com.

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