WaveMaker For PowerBuilder Developers Part 1 (Introduction)



Considering that PowerBuilder 15 (beta) is not publicly available without a special SAP login id for existing customers, I decided to take the time to build a WaveMaker web application and see how it compares to PowerBuilder. We’ll also find out how difficult, or easy it is for a PowerBuilder developer to develop with when they have had no formal WaveMaker training. WaveMaker is now 100% Open Source including the multi-tenant and commercial database functionality.

FYI – I just completed another WaveMaker application, and hosted it on this web server. You can check it out on my first WaveMaker application article. This app is unrelated to the series.

This article is the first in a series covering the creation of a web application using WaveMaker with mySQL.

WaveMaker Studio Overview

WaveMaker Studio Overview

The first objective is to provide a high level overview of WaveMaker and point out the main differences between WaveMaker and PowerBuilder. Next we’ll provide step-by-step instructions for building a functional WaveMaker & mySQL application (many to many) that will be used as a simple content management database for storing code snippets, article snippets, links, code documentation, or anything you might use more than once, and associate it with a project, a language type (PowerBuilder, JavaScript, HTML, Plain English Text, etc.). The program is intended to assist someone who’s memory is starting to get a few null pointers, and to maximize the DRY principle. The instructions will be tailored towards a PowerBuilder developer. The DDL and code will be provided as the development progresses and the finished program will be hosted so that you can try it out.

Quick History & Opinions of WaveMaker

In short, WaveMaker is a Java based rapid application development tool similar to PowerBuilder. The tool has gone through at least two ownership changes in the last five years, it was recently acquired by Pramati Technologies, a business incubator and enterprise software company founded in the 1990′s.

If you’d like a to read more about WaveMaker first you can take a look at some of my previous articles or see the WaveMaker About Page which has a nice summary of the tool history.


Differences between WaveMaker and PowerBuilder

At a very high level, here are the main differences between PowerBuilder & WaveMaker.

  • WaveMaker is designed to develop web/cloud applications using Java, and other Open Source technologies. PowerBuilder is designed to develop client-server & web based applications using proprietary & .NET technology.
  • WaveMaker does not have a datawindow, nor does the IDE have any obvious support for object oriented design. WaveMaker being Java based should support OOP however the development tool doesn’t appear to provide any support for inheritance that is built into PowerBuilder, this observation may be a result of my minimal experience with WaveMaker.
  • WaveMaker generates Java, JavaScript, Spring, Dojo Framework code, so the resultant code could be used as a starting-point to a typical Java project, or to learn/study Java development. PowerBuilder generates compiled (p-code or machine-code) and proprietary source code files that require (generally speaking) the PowerBuilder IDE to modify and re-compile.
  • WaveMaker has an impressive list of customers but has never reached critical mass becoming a mainstream tool like PowerBuilder did in the ’90’s.


Features of WaveMaker Development

This quick list of features is based on my opinion. Some shops may view them differently, specifically open-source technologies which is not embraced by some large companies. PowerBuilder shares many of these or is capable of sharing most with the exception of responsive screen layouts and open-source.

  • Visual Development (similar to PB)
  • Smart Layouts for Devices (aka Responsive)
  • Re-usable API Prefabs that can be published for use by others
  • One-click deployment to many environments
  • App-Store Integration for applications or API prefabs
  • Collaboration & Release Management
  • Standards based, uses open source technologies


WaveMaker Videos

Here are a few WaveMaker videos that will show you the basic features, and new API prefab functionality. If you haven’t used WaveMaker before you may want to watch a few of them.


WaveMaker Studio – The Grid Designer

WaveMaker Studio – Creating a Database From Within WaveMaker

WaveMaker Studio 7.0 – API Prefabs



We learned that WaveMaker is an application development tool used for building web & cloud based applications. The development IDE offers drag-and-drop visual development similar to that in PowerBuilder. WaveMaker is Java based and uses many open-source technologies such as Spring, Dojo Framework & Struts. WaveMaker builds a stand-alone Java application, and the source code can be opened in any Java development IDE.

This was the first in a series of articles that cover creation of a working web application used as a developer registry. Next we’ll make sure we have all the necessary tools and begin development.


[important]Part two of the series is now available, WaveMaker Series Part II. [/important]


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