Setting up a Data Window in PowerBuilder

Setting up a Data Window in PowerBuilder

A data window represents a graphical interface that the user can work with to retrieve, update, and create data for tables on an SQL server. Setting up a data window in PowerBuilder can be an involved exercise. While it is a conceptually simple task, the graphical manipulation may make this a time-consuming task. Nonetheless, with a little effort (and some common human-computer interaction principles), the results can be quite aesthethic, and the overall process rather stimulating.

This task requires that the following have been performed:

Creating the DataWindow

Select the DataWindow painter icon DataWindow Painter from the PowerBar. You should receive a standard window listing available data windows. Select New to create a new data window.

New DataWindow View

As a default, the Quick Select and Freeform options are selected. These represent the source of the data, and the manner in which it is to be presented to the user. For the initial data window to be created, these defaults are acceptable. As you get more familiar with this painter, you can experiment with other options. Select OK at this point, and PowerBuilder will put up a Quick Select window.

Quick Select Window

Select the appropriate table, and the columns that you wish to appear in the data window. Upon selecting OK, you will be presented with an initial layout for the data window.

Initial DataWindow View

This data window can be embellished quite easily, to make for a more pleasing view. Additional text and objects can be placed on the data window using the drawing tool bar on the left. Objects can be moved by simply selecting them and dragging them to the desired locations. Resizing of objects is performed using the standard Windows practice, i.e. selecting, grabbing an edge or corner, and dragging to the appropriate size.

The properties (color, font, border, layer, etc.) of each object can also be varied by selecting the object, displaying its properties (using the right mouse button), and then setting the properties to the desired value.

An improved version of the employee data window appears below.

Revised DataWindow

After the changes have been made, and the data window is laid out as desired, it can be saved, using the Save option under the File menu. Alternatively, attempting to close the data window without saving will generate a query as to whether it is to be saved. The Save DataWindow screen appears below.

Save DataWindow View

As a general rule, datawindows should be saved with a d_ prefix, and this one is saved as d_empscreen. As usual, comments are always helpful at this stage.

Using the DataWindow

The data window can be used to view, insert, and update data, directly. This presumes that the user knows which data segments from which table is being manipulated. For simple applications, with very few tables this is acceptable. For more complex apllications, or windows involving several tables, this may not be such a good idea. In those situations, creating an application window, with appropriate scripts, may be prefereable.

To insert data into the employee using the d_empscreen data window, select the Preview icon Preview Icon from the toolbar at the left. Since there are no records in the table, an empty data window is presented. Data can be inserted in to the table via the Insert Row icon Insert Row Icon. The cursor will shift to the first field in the data window, and you can add a record.

Inserting Data

This process allows you to add a record at a time, and you must use the Insert Row icon continually. The table can be saved via the Save changes icon. Alternatively, if you attempt to quit without saving, PowerBuilder will prompt you as to whether you wish to save the data or not.

You've just set up a data window, and used it to manipulate data on a remote SQL server!

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Client/Server Tools | Software Tools
© Derek Nazareth, (with input from Jungjoo Jahng), last updated on November 11, 1997.