Saturday, 2 July 2011

Building RCP applications with Eclipse

While Eclipse is a well known and respected development platform, it also serves as a basis for the development of RCP (Rich Client Platform) applications. In doing so, Eclipse presents itself as an open tools platform. Since the architecture of the Eclipse platform is modular and is built upon the plugin methodology, it is possible to reuse the core components of the Eclipse platform and build just about any Rich Client Platform. Here is a good list of commercial products that are based on the Eclipse RCP framework. The main reasons for developing an Eclipse RCP application would be that it would be realised as a 'Component' model. In other words, building blocks of the application can be re-used as building blocks of other distinct applications. Further, the application would remain OS Independent while giving the user an OS based native look and feel.

Since the main components that serve up an Eclipse RCP UI application JFace and SWT (Standard Widget Toolkit) are distinct to Swing in architecture and purpose, there is a learning curve involved which is made easier via a good set of regularly updated tutorials. Hardcore Swing users need not despair as it is possible for both technologies to share the same space. A good place to start learning RCP applications is here and Lars Vogel's comprehensive tutorial.

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