Welcome!

Containers Expo Blog Authors: Eric Robertson, Carmen Gonzalez, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Stefan Bernbo

Related Topics: PowerBuilder, Microsoft Cloud

PowerBuilder: Article

The PostOpen Event – Why It Is So Important

PowerBuilder fundamentals

Normally I try to write applications on the DataWindow or Appeon but every now and then I get a question that makes me sit back and say, "Huh?"

In this case the question concerns the PostOpen event. I've seen that event named different things: ue_post_open, postOpen, post_open, ue_postOpen, etc. It has, as far as I can see, always had post and open in the name of the event. Further, just about every framework that I've ever seen has had that event in the base window.

The question that I was asked was, "Why is that event there?"

The programmer wanted to know why there was code in the post open and why was it not just put at the end of the open event? At first I was really confused by the question. It was like he was asking me why do we have arrays? I just couldn't imagine not knowing the answer.

Then it occurred to me that I learned the answer to that question from a book that was published almost 20 years ago. As far as I can tell there are no new books on PowerBuilder and there are only two print magazines, this one and the ISUG magazine.

That's it.

Further I came to think of the tremendous responsibility that the few PowerBuilder authors share. New PowerBuilder programmers turn to us for information and there aren't that many of us left writing. So that leaves a whole lot of PowerBuilder programmers who get all their training from reading the code of other programmers.

Often those other programmers were consultants who wrote the code ten years ago and worked for consulting firms that no longer exist.

To make a bad situation worse a lot of times those programmers are brave souls that have been recruited from other disciplines. When the company finds that their last PowerBuilder programmer has just quit because he got a much better offer they turn to their existing programming staff and ask who would like to pick up PowerBuilder. They may point out that there are 6 or 10 or, as in the case for one company for which I recently worked, 26 PowerBuilder programs that are all critical to the company. The PowerBuilder programmer would become indispensable to the company.

So suddenly a brave Visual Basic or Java programmer finds PowerBuilder installed on his machine. His boss pats him on his pointy little head and tells him that Google is his friend.

Where would you turn? If you picked up the mantle and offered to learn a language that you knew nothing about, what would you do? You'd turn to Amazon or Google. If you type "best PowerBuilder books" in Google the first mentioned is my Definitive DataWindow which was published 13 years ago and is embarrassingly out of date...and out of print.

Let's go to Amazon, there you will find the latest PowerBuilder book is for version 9. It was published 10 years ago. Since then... nothing.

Why should I be surprised that things that I find fundamental are entirely unknown by the newest PowerBuilder programmers.

Warning: If you are a seasoned PowerBuilder programmer the rest of this article will bore you silly.

There is an open event in a window. This is the event that happens when the window is "opened." Now the word ‘open' can be deceptive. A lot of people feel that a window is only opened when it is shown on the screen.

That would be wrong.

The open of a window begins when the open command is issued. That is to say, with a line like:

Open(w_client_editor)

The problem, the whole reason that a post open event is required goes all the way back to Microsoft Windows 3.0 Old Windows programmers will remember version 3.0 very well. Version 3.0 was almost the death of Microsoft Windows. It was unbearably slow. I am not exaggerating; it was the slowest version of Windows that was ever released.

It was so slow that Windows users were seriously studying what the impact of changing to another - any other - operating system would be.

This time Microsoft listened... and panicked. They did a study to determine what it is that makes the user perceive speed in an application. What could be changed to cause the user to believe that the application is faster with minimal real change to the operating system? It wasn't that Microsoft didn't want to address their problems with speed, they most certainly did, but addressing those problems would take time that Microsoft just didn't have. Microsoft was about to lose a lot of customers and once lost, it would be hard to get them back.

Microsoft learned that the visual perception strongly influenced the user's perception of speed. They learned that if the window POPPED onto the screen, all at once, even if the data wasn't there yet, then the users perceived speed. What killed the user perception was when they pressed a button and nothing happened for four seconds. The user would often punch that button two or three times. So Microsoft created operating system queues.

The graphics queue happened before the application queue. So graphics could be given a higher priority than the application and windows would paint faster. They released version 3.1 which was mostly just the addition of these queues (along with other changes like a floating point emulator in assembly code).

This was great but it broke the relationship of the open event with the code. This meant that you weren't guaranteed that everything would be created in the window until after the open event finishes.

Consider this code:

W_customer.open() event
Dw_1.setTransObject(sqlca)
Dw_1.retrieve()

This code would often result in a "Null object reference" error because dw_1 had not been created by Microsoft when the code ran.

Imagine how we felt when this happened. There was a null object reference in line 1 of the open event, but, but, but... that's dw_1. There it is, right there on the window! How can it be null? It's not dynamic. You put it there.

Okay, we learned that we should not put anything in the open event that referred to anything on the screen. Most of us learned to just not put anything at all in the open event except one line in the ancestor:

W_root.open() event
post event ue_post_open( )

For reasons already stated I imagine I can't rely on you knowing the difference between post event and trigger event or for that matter between postOpen and post open.

Okay, one at a time. Posting an event means that Microsoft Windows will open this window after the rest of the code in this script is executed. Basically it means, "Do this when you get a chance." So if you add that to the open event of your root window then it will call the ue_post_open event after all of the code in all of the descendants of this window is done.

Keep in mind the order of execution of events. First PowerBuilder goes to the farthest ancestor and then starts executing down the inheritance tree. If you have w_grandpa, and w_pa inherits from that and w_son inherits from that then the code in w_grandpa.open would execute first, then the code in w_pa, finally the code in w_son.

This means that if we put the post event in the open of w_grandpa, then the ue_post_open would happen after the last open event in the descendants. In our example:

W_grandpa.open->w_pa.open->w_son.open-> w_grandpa.ue_post_open-> w_son.ue_post_open->w_son.post_open

All that we have to do is create a ue_post_open event in our root window. We don't have to put anything in it, just create one. Then we post that event from the open event and we have a place now to put all our initialization code and don't have to worry about whether any object exists or not.

More important the screen will quickly draw or paint, giving the user the perception of speed. If you need to retrieve data and know it will take a short time, then you can set the pointer to an hourglass. I guarantee that your user will feel the window is faster.

I mentioned that most of us learned not to put anything in the open event. There is an exception to that rule. When your window is opened with a parameter then you should access the message object as the first line of code in your window.

Let me give you an example. Suppose that you open a window with a customer_id. You are going to use that customer_id as a parameter to the datawindow dw_1. Here is what you would do.

W_calling_window
Long ll_customer_id
Ll_customer_id = dw_detail.getItemNumber(dw_detail.getRow(), "customer_id")
openWithParm(w_customer_detail, ll_customer_id)

Now in the w_customer_detail window you need to set an instance variable. That's because we have just passed a variable to the new window and we are going to get it in the open event but we are going to retrieve the DataWindow in the ue_postOpen event. So let's do this. I will assume that you know how to declare an instance variable. Let's name it il_customer_id. Now let's look at the open event of w_customer_detail.

W_customer_detail.open()
il_customer_detail = message.longParm

Okay, now in the open event of w_customer_detail we have taken the longParm property of the global message object and put it in an instance variable.

Since we have inherited the w_customer_detail from whatever our base window is, the ue_postOpen event will automatically fire. That means that we don't have to fire off the event. Now I just have to put the code that we need in the window.

W_customer_detail.ue_postOpen()
dw_customer_info.setTransObject(sqlca)
dw_customer.retrieve(il_customer_detail)

Let's Do Some Housekeeping
I think that we've pretty well covered the post open event but in the process of doing that I've brought up a couple of other issues that I'd like to cover just to be complete.

First let's talk about post event as opposed to postEvent.

With the post event command you must know the name of the event that you want to post. You can pass the parameters normally. However, just like calling a function, the event has to exist and the parameters must be correct.

On the other hand the postEvent function takes a string as a parameter and that string is the name of the event. This means that you can store the name of the event in a table. In fact the event doesn't even have to exist. If it doesn't then nothing will happen. There will be no error thrown.

This makes the postEvent perfect for security systems where you can post an event based on a security role. Here is some code that might work for you in a menu event.

M_main.m_file.m_save.clicked
Datastore ld_security, ld_events
ld _secutity = create datastore
ld_events = create datastore

ld_events.dataobject = "d_events"
ld_security.dataobject = "d_get_security"

ld_events.setTransObject(sqlca)
ld_security.setTransObject(sqlca)

parentWindow.postEvent(ld_events.retrieve(ld_security.retrieve(gs_user_id)))

Using the postOpen function is very flexible but it is limited in the parameters that can be passed it. If you use the post event command, you can pass any number of parameters that you wish. The caveat is that the event must exist or you will get a compile time error. So the event that you used before for security cannot be done.

All that I just said for the postEvent and post event command applies also to the triggerEvent and trigger event commands.

Finally I'd like to mention the global message object.

This object is global. It can be accessed at any time by any other object. That means that if you access the message object in the postOpen event then another window may have changed your message object properties and this could corrupt what you are expecting.

Don't take this lightly. More than once I've debugged and found this error and believe me it is difficult to find. The problem is that it is not an error with logic or data but a timing error. These can be close to impossible to find.

Please take my word for this, make it a golden rule. If you open a window with a parameter, the first thing you do in the target or opened window is grab that value from the message object and store it.

Also, if you do a closeWithReturn then you need to immediately get the value from the message object.

There you have it. I've covered in some detail some basic information that might not be so easily learned any more.

More Stories By Richard (Rik) Brooks

Rik Brooks has been programming in PowerBuilder since the final beta release before version 1. He has authored or co-authored five books on PowerBuilder including “The Definitive DataWindow”. Currently he lives in Mississippi and works in Memphis, Tennessee.

Comments (1) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
ywerde 02/20/13 04:14:00 PM EST

In your introduction you clearly state the problem new PowerBuilder developers face when they find the IDE installed on their machine. You then go on to talk about the lack of current training materials.
One important cost effective training resource you omitted is the online training from ISUG/eLearnIT. Everyone can learn more here.

@ThingsExpo Stories
"ReadyTalk is an audio and web video conferencing provider. We've really come to embrace WebRTC as the platform for our future of technology," explained Dan Cunningham, CTO of ReadyTalk, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
The WebRTC Summit New York, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 20th International Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo. WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web co...
Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, drew together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established compa...
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
Businesses and business units of all sizes can benefit from cloud computing, but many don't want the cost, performance and security concerns of public cloud nor the complexity of building their own private clouds. Today, some cloud vendors are using artificial intelligence (AI) to simplify cloud deployment and management. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ajay Gulati, Co-founder and CEO of ZeroStack, will discuss how AI can simplify cloud operations. He will cover the following topics: why clou...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to simplify and streamline our lives by automating routine tasks that distract us from our goals. This promise is based on the ubiquitous deployment of smart, connected devices that link everything from industrial control systems to automobiles to refrigerators. Unfortunately, comparatively few of the devices currently deployed have been developed with an eye toward security, and as the DDoS attacks of late October 2016 have demonstrated, this oversight can ...
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
Internet-of-Things discussions can end up either going down the consumer gadget rabbit hole or focused on the sort of data logging that industrial manufacturers have been doing forever. However, in fact, companies today are already using IoT data both to optimize their operational technology and to improve the experience of customer interactions in novel ways. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Gordon Haff, Red Hat Technology Evangelist, will share examples from a wide range of industries – includin...
"We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
"We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
According to Forrester Research, every business will become either a digital predator or digital prey by 2020. To avoid demise, organizations must rapidly create new sources of value in their end-to-end customer experiences. True digital predators also must break down information and process silos and extend digital transformation initiatives to empower employees with the digital resources needed to win, serve, and retain customers.
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. He cited examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He also highlighted how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable ...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
"Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.