PowerBuilder – As an Open Source development tool?

I just noticed that Bruce Armstrong has started an on-line petition to SAP management to either release PB15 or release the code to open-source.  PB Petition to save PowerBuilder.  *update Aug 29, 2013: The petition has passed 1,500 signatures you can find details about who has signed on Bruce Armstrong’s blog.

I realize that the chances of SAP opening up the source-code for PowerBuilder is about as likely as the Ison comet causing an extinction event on Earth— or the Louisiana sinkhole (Bayou Corne) being related to fracking— okay truthfully PB has less chance than either, but I digress and admit that this was a sneaky way for me to inject news events that our media refuses to talk about into a PowerBuilder blog.

Who would be interested in contributing to an Open Source PowerBuilder Tool?

I have never really understood the Open Source business model but I believe that profits are generated through support contracts and most corporate clients would probably seriously consider spending the money.  If the future for PowerBuilder looks bleak then why think outside the box– something Sybase was not capable of doing, IMHO, but SAP is a company with vision and just might consider it.  (yeah I was trying to kiss up)

PowerBuilder 15 – one of the most searched terms on this website

The long wait for PowerBuilder 15 (PB15) and lack of guidance from SAP pretty much suggests:

  • SAP is not willing to invest much money in PB15
  • SAP may not be committed to the PB15 release at all
  • PowerBuilder 15 may never come to exist

These are my own opinions but they seem reasonable.  So SAP, why not just open up the source and let us dedicated developers see what we can do?  If you are really not willing to invest in the tool what do you have to lose?

What might happen if PB went open-source?

  • Developers may take a new interest in the tool
  • Companies might be willing to use the tool considering they have access to source-code
  • Old die-hard PB evangelists might just find a way to re-kindle the love-affair with PowerBuilder
  • Developers would appreciate the idea and some of the alienated customers might consider returning
  • Nothing bad

I know the idea is “out-there” but appreciate some constructive feedback.  If we can get some going here maybe SAP will take a look.

Use the star-voting mechanism of this post to indicate your thoughts.

  • One star for “it is a terrible idea”
  • Five stars for “Yes, I’d love to see PB go open-source“.



5 Responses

  1. SAP is starting to take some notice now that the number of people signing onto the petition started by Bruce Armstrong is growing. In fact, a recent post on SDN by Sue Dunnell states that SAP has just started to work on integrating Powerbuilder into the SAP world (within the last 3 weeks). Although I can’t fathom it taking 2 years for SAP to realize they owned Powerbuilder by way of the Sybase purchase, it’s a favorable sign to see that someone from SAP is responding.

    Let’s hope SAP sees value in making investments in Powerbuilder or sells it to someone who sees the value. As for making it open source, I think the chances are much lower and may expose some intellectual property to PB’s competitors. However in lieu of doing nothing, I’d welcome having it be open-sourced just so that those of us who value it can make it something greater.

  2. This is GREAT information – thank you for sharing. I will be signing the petition shortly and passing it on to some of my developer friends who miss working with PowerBuilder.

    Kudos to Bruce Armstrong for raising the issue. I’d rather that SAP release the source code and make the tool open source or have a version that is open source but will take what I can get.

    Nice comment by Shawn Pleska too.

    SAVE PowerBuilder 15 (PB15)

  3. There is a very important requirement for launching an successful open source project: developers! There are some road warriors keeping the open source idea around PowerBuilder alive, but that’s not enough to moving the whole project foward.

    The community could open source PowerBuilder right now! Because there is no reason why datawindows couldn’t interpretet as HTML5-Datawindow. Eclipse and Visual Studio is open to extend and there is no reason not to code a plugin to develop PB in Visual Studio. I am convinced it could be better than official PB .NET.

    * I don’t think open the source of PB will bring new developers to the project, the small progress will stop
    * what’s the “return of investment” porting the datawindow and PowerScript. I am not a compiler builder, but PowerScript really(!) needs a facelift! Who wants to do it? Who will coordinate it?

  4. Hello dear PB colleagues!
    I am from Greece and I am a fun of this amazing tool for over 10 years. I insist to write code in PowerBuilder 12.5 despite contrarieties and the war which has been declared by my friends and co-workers that use .NET
    I have developed almost everything in banking field with Powerbuilder and works for years. It’s not only the unique datawindow but the entire development environment. When you change version of Powerbuilder, the changes in code that you have to develop are … no changes at all.SAP should take into account, that the Powerbuilder developers have a sense of commitment, a religious devotion for this tool. Why? Because you can do almost everything (in client-server environment) with this tool spending the 1/3 of time that you could spend if you were using another development environment. You have to spend the minimum effort in the minimum time.
    SAP should reconsider this product and invest in a tool that lives for over 3 decades with so devoting people. I would like to see in the new PowerBuilder a way to develop and migrate the already client-server apps into web apps and respectively to integrate the already developer’s written code. Of course, you will tell me that there is the APPEON product for that. O.K but it is so expensive! if you are an individual programmer and you want to migrate your apps into web you have to buy this also. You pay so much for PowerBuilder for every new version that is not affordable to pay so much for APPEON too.
    Greetings from Greece my friends!

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