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Author's profile photo Former Member

Growing Developer Communities

  It’s been 10 months since the Sybase teams became integrated with SAP and a lot has happened, especially for the PowerBuilder team.  We participated in our second TechEd, our first InnoJam, and 3 of us were named as SAP Mentors. As we create our roadmap and work with other engineering teams to find integration points, it’s important to make sure we also engage developers and find integration points in our new, large SAP community.

PowerBuilder is a great product to have been associated with for the past 17 years; it’s one of the few products in any industry that has a committed, passionate and loyal base of customers, and a true community of users. Sure, we share technical information and professional successes, but it goes beyond there. We have a long history together rooted in our common use of a development tool, but it’s fostered many different professional relationships, friendships, support and trust.

SAP is ten times larger than Sybase, but it doesn’t really feel that way, mainly because at every turn, there are people focused on changing the way things are done so that we are better able to support developers. And, there are many members of our senior management team who were PowerBuilder developers at one point in their career. As SAP makes this strategic shift to embrace a platform for developers, there are people who really understand what is necessary for this to be successful because they’ve been there before.

PowerBuilder has always had an active set of developer user community groups that meet regularly to network, share technical tips and tricks, and stay current on technology and trends. We are hoping to expand the membership of these groups to include users of other SAP products, and are interested in hearing your suggestions on what would be most useful for you.  A combination of smaller meet-up style gatherings and larger, regional events will kick off this year to start to bring the SAP developers together and see what works best for each area.

Our developer user groups are organized the Independent SAP Technical User Group (formerly International Sybase User Group). Their name change indicates that their focus is really around being the key source for technical information for developers using SAP products. You can see if there is a chapter near you here and feel free to contact me if you’d like to start a new group in your area or contribute to the one that already exists.

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      Author's profile photo Fred Verheul
      Fred Verheul

      Hi Sue,

      The "Independent SAP Technical User Group" sounds impressive 😉 , and could certainly be interesting for SAP developers around the world (and now I'm serious).

      However, there are already lots of other initiatives going on that in my opinion aim for the same.

      I would encourage you (if you've not already done that) to get in contact with Craig Cmehil for instance who has introduced the concept of codejam : small informal gatherings of SAP-developers around a specific SAP technology (sounds familiar? 🙂 ). I'm sure these could also be organized for powerbuilder.

      Then we also have the user groups like asug vnsg and dsag to name a few. I know the vnsg (Dutch SAP user group) has so called focus groups that meet regularly to exchange experiences and information about (the use of) certain SAP products, and I'm pretty sure the other user groups have something similar.

      So, I don't want to discourage this initiative in any way, it's just that from your blog post it looks a bit (to me at least!) as if you didn't detect the equivalent of the powerbuilder_community and user groups and decided to correct that.

      I would personally prefer the powerbuilder_community to tie into existing communities and initiatives, rather than creating yet another group/community/whatever.

      To conclude: I'm looking forward to hearing a bit more about the motivation behind this.

      Cheers, Fred

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Fred - ISUG-TECH is an existing community; we've been working with the PB folks for several years already 🙂

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi Mike;

         May I correct you on that time frame ... "several decades"!    😉

      ISUG / ISUG-TECH ... thank you for the many, many years of support for my Ottawa Sybase User Group! This year celebrating 21 years servicing the PB community.  🙂

      Regards ... Chris

      President: OSUG

      Author's profile photo Matthias Steiner
      Matthias Steiner

      Well said Fred! Yes, SAP is serious about improving the developer experience. In fact, it's one of our priorities these days and we got dedicated teams close to our CTO Vishal Sikka driving the topic.

      As such, I would recommend to you to reach out to Anne Hardy and Thomas Grassl to align our activities in that context for the benefit of our developer base. It's great to see the passion that clearly shines through your blog post and your experiences and ideas will definately help to make SAP developers around the globe happy (regardless of the technologies used!)



      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Blog Post Author

      I wanted to respond to all 3 posts here since the issues are all kind of similar.

      I am actually part of Anne Hardy's team now and have worked with Thomas and folks on his team as well - you're right, there are lots of groups doing different things, and we've been involved with many of the initiatives focused on reaching out to and serving the developer community.

      I've mentioned ISUG in my post because it's been the Sybase user community for a very long time, and it's evolving and expanding.  We're trying to find ways to extend our very large existing community of very technical users and our technical offerings to other members of the SAP community, starting with reaching out to folks who are located in the same cities where we currently have user groups. And, we'd like to offer more activities to our existing communities (codejams included!)

      As David points out, we have had the STUN user community in the UK, not affiliated with ISUG, and we have others around the globe that are both ISUG and individually organized. Many of these are very large - several hundred members in each group. Most of the ISUG groups are in the US, with about 15 or so in Europe and Asia. At this point, my main goal is to ensure we're meeting the needs and demands of our developers - regardless of which umbrella they fall under. Ideally,   it would be great to bring more them together and cross-pollinate; we need to start leveraging the groups we have in place to reach out to other technical users/developesr. Our customers typically want to hear what is coming next in the product, they want technical demos, and they want to network and get access to as much technical info as possible. 

      Re the comment of migration off of PB - there are many factors that has led to attrtion over time, not the least of which is lack of market presence. That's something we need to address from many different angles. Certainly an active and engaged community is a good way to keep a level of buzz and presence for a product but the vendor has to do a lot to support that, too. As SAP shifts to a company focused on developers, we need to do more developer type things, and it makes sense to leverage the very large and committed communities we currently have, and expand those to include other developers beginning to use the new SAP developer platform.

      We will be starting our beta for PB 15 soon and will be announcing more info regarding post-PB 15 as soon as it becomes available. We also have some exciting partner technology- Appeon - that allows customers to build apps in PB and deploy native iOS apps - and it will also be supporting HANA soon as well. We also have several customers starting PB/HANA projects as well.

      Author's profile photo David Peace
      David Peace

      Sue, thanks for adding a further comment.

      I think we have understood what SAP would like to do, the real issue is what ARE you going to do? I realise that that is a much more difficult question to answer. If you would like the existing development community to understand your vision, perhaps you could hold a session with the user groups to draw SAP's vision and how it will benefit the existing development community. I think I understand some of your vision but as yet cannot see how that will help the majority of us at all. I'm sure you would get some valuable feedback as well.

      I mentioned EAServer specifically as the SAP web site takes you to Netweaver when you follow the link to EAServer. What is SAP's vision for PB running in an application server environment?

      Many thanks


      Author's profile photo David Peace
      David Peace

      Hi Sue

      PB in the UK has had STUN for many years, this has not stopped the migration away from PB as a development tool.

      But for arguments sake, lets say we organised a meeting (I went to one recently).... what would we discuss? We cannot say what is new or coming soon, poor John Strano tried desperately to make nothing sound interesting when talking about futures. There is currently no future for PB and no obvious commitment from SAP to deliver some "real" enhancements soon.

      Although I support your sentiment and your faith in the future of PB, I have yet to see anything other than words from SAP with regard to a serious plan to develop and market PB in the future.

      On another topic, what has happened to EAServer. The SAP page for EAServer goes to a different application server which does not support the PB VM. So clearly no future for EAServer or PB application running in a 3 tier deployment.

      I have customer who have invested heavily in PB software and are asking me what is the future. What can I tell them?


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      EAServer 6 was a disaster that seems to have killed it. I think they should bring back the 5.5 version and bundle it with PowerBuilder for free. Perhaps strip out some of the java stuff nobody would need. A high performance PowerBuilder only application server would be a great tool and selling point.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Roland, wise you are!!!!  I hated EAServer 6.  I hated that it was a step backward rather than a step forward in supporting Powerbuilder in the middle tier.  I hated that it was slower and less efficient because of having to process everything as Java rather than natively as Powerbuilder.  I wasn't the only one.  I remember Dean Jones, who was a well-respected part of the PB community back then, railing on the performance hit.  I only updated to EAServer 6 at the very end when there was no other choice.

      I had worked with EAServer going back to Version 3.  EAServer was a great product but its niche (the only appserver to host PB in the middle tier) wasn't much of a selling point in the 2-tier laden world of Powerbuilder.

      Version 5 and 5.5 were great.  I would be thrilled to see EAServer 5.5 rolled into the core Powerbuilder licensing structure, even if EAServer 5.5 carried an additional production deployment license.  I doubt many large businesses would use it since large businesses tend to standardize on a product (Websphere, Weblogic, etc) for their other Java or .NET needs.  However, among the SMEs you would certainly have a potential audience if Powerbuilder can garner a renewed interest in the market.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi Roland;

         I agree ... EAS 5.5 was the best release of EAServer!

         Personally, I think bringing back Distributed PowerBuilder would be a great "shot in the arm" for the PB product in general. I could do just as much with DPB as I could with EAS (and for a lot less $$$ for my clientele) and .... then we could could also do "server push" from DPB - which EAS could not.   😉

      Regards ... Chris

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi David;

      =>  what would we discuss? We cannot say what is new or coming soon, poor John Strano tried desperately to make nothing sound interesting when talking about futures.

        I have the same concerns about my OSUG group and in fact, this is one of the main reasons that I have not had a meeting in almost 12 months. There is nothing to talk about from SAP to get the audience even to come out.  🙁

      => There is currently no future for PB and no obvious commitment from SAP to deliver some "real" enhancements soon.

         The only "bright spot on the horizon" is Appeon - both in its Web and Mobile products (thank you Armeen, Issac & the gang). However, SAP needs to better support that initiative by bolstering PB Classic (the one that real PB developers use). Hopefully, SAP will release some "concrete" PB v15 news soon!     😕

      Regards ... Chris