WaveMaker Revisited: Part 2 – Observations made by a career PowerBuilder developer
For those of you who don’t know me, I am a career PowerBuilder developer, having ridden the PowerBuilder wave from before it started until now– still riding the remnants of the huge waves PowerBuilder made in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. I have a few rhetorical questions to start this article out– and maybe they aren’t rhetorical after all — whet do you think?
Is it ironic that I refer to my career as “riding the PB wave“, and now I am ranting about a new tool called WaveMaker?
Is it possible that I have a knack for choosing tools that have a future, or is it my confidence or arrogance from the successes with PowerBuilder clouding (another weak pun– intended) my judgement?
Here is an Ultra-Condensed version of my 20 year career with PowerBuilder and search for the Next Big Thing.
My goal to keep this SHORT but it was impossible. You could skip bullet points if limited on time.
- Started my career in mainframe, doing Cobol, CICS, and the usual mainframe stuff of early ’90’s working for utility company in Madison, WI, when a mid-level manager had a huge positive impact on my future (Thank you Wayne Peterson) by recommending me for the the first PB project.
- The next 15 years was a flash of moving from one contract to the next using every PB version against every DBMS for half a dozen Fortune 100 clients. I had become a PB expert and could do anything, save any project, was on fire. All while listening to the masses saying PB is dying you will be out of a job in two years. I didn’t listen because I tried using the competing technologies.
- Late 2000’s PB was losing more market share to Java and .NET, and neither impressed me at that point. I figured I was probably biased. As my role started becoming more of a support role- and boredom was a problem I started studying competing technologies for at least four hours per night on top of my normal day. Microsoft started winning me over, reluctantly with Silverlight, WPF, and ASP.NET MVC, the first two shared XAML which I saw potential. Interstingly WaveMaker has similarities to XAML in use of layers.
- From 2010 forward, I became somewhat fired up about Microsoft technologies, but the first major blunder that turned me off was lack of direction with Silverlight. Then it became clear– what MS developers have been dealing with for years- that MS comes up with brilliant ideas, but rarely finishes one. They are the king of software used to create sample applications– of course this is an exaggeration, but there is some truth to it. I started to wonder if they suffered from ADHD…joking again of course.
First look at WaveMaker, a 4GL visual AJAX/Java/CSS/Web development tool
Around 2010 I came across the WaveMaker website, and the marketing hype caught me off-guard. It looked impressive so I downloaded the software and stated following some of the sample applications. My initial impression reminded me of the excitement of first seeing PowerBuilder– finally something ahead of its’ time. Keep in mind that I have been very neutral to negative on Java in general, for personal reasons.
Rather than repeat what I learned — here is a link to my first real write-up on WaveMaker. I believe it was mid-2010. You can gauge my high level of excitement, it was pretty unmistakable. But as time went on, I wasn’t convinced WaveMaker was ready for prime-time. I believed they might have a future– but not enough for me to abandon my investment in MS technologies which seemed easier and more mainstream (safer).
This article is a top-ten on this site to this day and there seems to be dozens of variations of it on other tech blogs (sigh), so there were other people looking for the same thing I was. My version of the article was titled:
Second look at WaveMaker, a 4GL visual AJAX/Java/CSS/Web development tool
After spending another few years studying Microsoft technologies and trying to develop real-world applications in my spare time, I became frustrated with the challenges of doing anything more difficult that a standard marketing sample application. Frustration with Entity Framework and it’s flaky behavior with complex data-models, frustration with MS constant change of direction particularly with Silverlight. Call it desperation, or curiosity, but I noticed my blog (this site) was making more and more referrals to WaveMakers’ website so I decided there must be something worth looking at again.
I downloaded WaveMaker version 6.4 GA on or around June 20, 2012 — and was as impressed with how quickly I came up to speed exponentially more impressed than my first look. The same night I downloaded WaveMaker I had re-developed an application I had been working on using Microsoft technologies (primarily Silverlight, MVC) and found it more refined than my MS version that had several weeks of effort invested — months of effort if you count the time I spent jumping from one MS technology to the next. This version of WaveMaker is revolutionary – it is fun to use – and coming from a PB environment there are several similarities. If I have time I’d like to write some articles about how WaveMaker and PowerBuilder features equate, for example a Wavemaker live-view is a cross between a PowerBuilder dataobject (the query side) and the PB database stored edit types. The way WaveMaker handles lookup tables is easier than in PB, no need to mess with creating separate drop-down dataobjects and tying them to your dataobject.
I wrote a quick and dirty article after downloading WaveMaker 6.4 GA.
You can find it here, be forewarned it is a bit dramatic: WaveMaker – Take Two – PowerBuilder Pro Reaction, OMG
WaveMaker 6.4 GA – 4GL Web development tool – Real World Results Coming Here Very Soon
Now a week or so later, I’ve redeveloped my “toy” application in WaveMaker better than I have been able in a month with Microsoft, AND included multi-tenancy and role based security which were going to be after-thoughts in my MS version. Saturday morning (yesterday) around 10am I got the crazy idea to create a multi-tenancy application to used with this blog — at first I figured it would be four or five tables, and it ended up being about ten, but I cranked out a rough working version in TWO HOURS. This includes deploying to my own Glassfish server on a VPS that I lease for $29 monthly. At the two hour point, my application is functional, with multi-tenancy support, role based security, and the thing looked damn impressive. I will spend a few more hours cleaning it up and getting it as close to production ready as I can in that amount of time.
This NEW WaveMaker developed application will be posted on my site (live) in the very near future– I’ll go out on a limb and promise within a week.
The application you will see will be a fully functional Java, AJAX, CSS, Web application using complex powerful Java frameworks that would take months to learn by themselves. The application will be deployed (via WAR file) to an Open Source Glassfish application server running on my virtual Windows (yes windows! I want it my way!) 2008 R2 server instance hosted for $29 monthly (it’s a very weak virtual instance with one processor and half a gig ram), and against a MySQL database (via InnoDB) making light use of Triggers and consisting of 1-to-many and many-to-many relationships.
It will not be perfect, but it is pretty damn good right now. Stay tuned… in the meantime I welcome comments, suggestions, or even requests.
You can try WaveMaker yourself by going to www.wavemaker.com/download!