Hello, my name is Robert Leidy and I am a computer addict. Like most addictions, mine started in high school (1980s) when Apple IIe computers started showing up in school computer labs. My addiction grew and I moved from that Apple IIe computer to a MS-DOS computer (ironically created by a company named "Gateway"). I started college at the University of Oklahoma in 1986. The business school had a brand new "Management Information Systems" degree program that was the perfect drug for my addiction. Before I knew what had happened I had a degree in Information Systems, and a job that paid me to write computer programs.
Mobil Oil Corporation and Texas Instruments became my "dealers" for the next 9 years. The technology changed over the years, but the addiction did not. The combination of solving problems and building solutions fed my addiction until 1999, then everything changed. Up until this point I was designing very large computer systems for mainframe environments, but then my Dad introduced me to Sunbelt's PL/B language and lured me with the seductive idea of developing a brand new windows based computer system for a small telephone company.
Developing for the windows environment was a new experience, but PLB made the transition easy. Working with a small team of programmers, I was amazed at what we could accomplish. I had never seen ideas go from a white-board concept to working programs in such a short amount of time. It was the most fun I ever had "working", and now that I was building programs for the windows environment I was able to create my own programs "for fun".
It's been over a 17 years since I was introduced to the PL/B language, four decades since authoring my first computer program, and the addiction has never been greater.
Wikipedia has a good description, but the short answer is that PL/B stands for “Programming Language for Business.” It is an ANSI standard language that has been around for over 45 years. It’s a close relative to the COBOL language, except it has continued to evolve to the point that it is now more commonly compared to Microsoft’s Visual Basic language.
Despite the similarities, there is a fundamental difference between PL/B and Microsoft's Visual Basic. While Microsoft’s Visual Basic can be used to develop just about any kind of Windows program, PL/B is focused as a language that is tailor made for business data processing. This enables PL/B programs to be developed and maintained in less time than their Visual Basic equivalents.
Another advantage is that PL/B developed programs are platform independent. PL/B programs are actually pre-compiled (.plc) programs that can be executed via different runtime environments. When a program developed using the PL/B language is running, it is actually C code that is being executed. This enables the same PL/B program to be run in Windows, Apple Macintosh (Intel), HP Alpha 64 bit, HP 9000 32 bit, IBM AIX RS/6000, Linux (Intel), Linux (PowerPC), SCO Unix & Xenix/386, or SUN Solaris.
The biggest advantage PL/B has over its competition is due to the products developed by Sunbelt Computer Systems.
The term ANSI standard isn’t mentioned much in the programming world today. However, it is an important distinction between programming languages. An ANSI standard language is not owned by any one company, and it maintains a set of standards that ensure backwards compatibility. So languages that follow ANSI standards can continue to evolve, but they must also support backwards compatibility. This enables businesses to develop applications that can run for many, many years without fear of obsolesce.
So why choose PLB? If you’re considering developing your own software, you want something that you can depend on long term. You want a language that will work well into the future that isn’t tied to another company’s strategic plan and profit margin.