Congratulations on getting to work in a great environment!
Powerbuilder (PB) is an Object Oriented, Event Driven, Graphical User Interface (GUI) environment primarily geared for client / server applications. PowerBuilder uses its own language, called PowerScript. Powerbuilder is considered a 4th generation language. (C++ and Java are considered 3rd generation languages.) With Powerbuilder, you get the object oriented power of the 3rd generation languages along with the GUI front-end of 4th generation languages.
Powerbuilder's first true strength is an object called the "Datawindow". It will be important for you to learn how to truly use this object and its related control, the datawindow control. If you become a good programmer who understands Powerbuilder, you should almost never have to embed SQL in your Powerbuilder applications, as there is virtually no need. Datawindows allow you to encapsulate your SQL (along with a display format) into an object that can be used throughout your application.
2. Powerbuilder's second major strength is that it is truly object-oriented - Inheritance, Polymorphism, Encapsulation. In Powerbuilder, Learn how to create your own classes and inherit from them, making your programs much more robust and often easier to maintain.
3. Powerbuilder's third major strength is that it can connect to most databases. Unlike vendor specific tools, Powerbuilder allows the developer the freedom to develop on any database and often through native drivers. (Much faster, more stable, and better than using ODBC connections, for example.) For example, I created one application for an Access database and was able to place it directly onto an Oracle database without making 30 minutes worth of changes. Had I used embedded sql, this task would have taken weeks.
There is no other environment that I have used which even comes close to Powerbuilder in client/server. VB is not object oriented (no inheritance, though VB.Net makes claims that it now has that capability) and does not have near the database manipulation power that Powerbuilder provides. However, if you have used VB before, then you will be familar with some of the standard controls found in Powerbuilder. Java and C++ may provide a bit more flexibility, performance, and fewer limitations but the design and maintenance costs would be extremely higher than a 4th generation language like Powerbuilder.
PB Books and Tips: 1. Make sure PowerBuilder's "ONLINE BOOKS" are installed onto your work computer! This will become your life's blood.
2. Utilize the software package that comes with the PB software (if purchased) called "Infobase". Infobase will provide you with a lot of great examples of how to implement your code.
4. Learn your datawindow - Know your datawindow - Love your datawindow. There is an entire book devoted to the datawindow in powerbuilder - get it. :)
5. Once you have the fundamentals down, begin learning the proper techniques for implementing good Object Oriented Programming. Learn to create user objects, custom user objects, and non-visual user objects. Inherit from those user objects rather than recreating a new controls like VB programmers typically do. (Powerbuilder is only object oriented if the programmer codes that way!)
6. Graduate into learning Powerbuilder's PFC's (Powerbuilder Foundation Classes) and using "Services".
7. Did I say Know your datawindow?
8. Know your SQL. Powerbuilder offers a nice GUI interface for creating your SQL statements for your Datawindows but it is always best to know how to do it yourself.
9. Check your local junior colleges for courses on Powerbuilder.
10. SHIFT-F1 in the script painter brings up Help. Learn how to use it!