Saturday, September 16, 2006


The Eclipse Rich Client Platform (RCP)

An Overview For TCL SOFTWARE

The Java space is dominated by browser-based thin clients. Thin clients are well-suited to applications that require limited user interface richness, such as shopping carts and search tools.
Thin client applications can also be an effective choice when there is a requirement to support a broad end-user community with a minimal feature set, for instance, when deploying a catalog browsing application to the general Internet community. In these cases, thin clients shift presentation logic to the server.

For several years now, the pendulum has swung to far to the side of thin clients. Thin client applications typically suffer from one of two problems:
Lack of user interface richness and responsiveness, or
Complex, unmaintainable JavaScript and DHTML.

Rich clients solve these issues. For applications, such as internal business tools or other applications requiring rich and responsive interfaces, rich client applications can leverage software engineering best practices: for instance, building applications with reusable components and using design patterns to write maintainable, flexible code.

Eclipse RCP Technology

An alternative to building thin client applications is to leverage the open source Eclipse Rich Client Platform (RCP). Eclipse RCP is the technology that the industry standard Eclipse IDE is built on. The technology was donated by IBM to the non-profit Eclipse Foundation ( in 2004. Since then, the use of Eclipse RCP and its corresponding widget toolkit, SWT, has exploded. Powerful commercial, shrink-wrapped software is now being written with Eclipse RCP, as are rich, responsive, custom business and scientific applications.

Eclipse RCP Advantages

Eclipse RCP offers several advantages for building rich client applications. From its plug-in architecture, its fast widgets, and its rich user interface functionality, using Eclipse RCP can have a very high payoff in terms of user satisfaction and bottom-line results.
1. Deliver business functionality, not plumbing.

Using Eclipse RCP, your team will write value-added business functionality. Forms, widgets, a Jobs API, a network-enabled update manager, a Preferences API, a business intelligence and report engine, graphical editing, and much more plumbing is provided to applications as optional plug-ins.

2. The Eclipse RCP framework is plug-n-play.
Eclipse RCP applications consist of an assortment of plug-ins loaded and managed by the OSGI kernel. This gives application administrators the power to push new functionality out to users in small deployment units or even to allow users to select what functionality they want installed. Eclipse RCP is able to load new or updated plug-ins dynamically without requiring an application restart.

3. Eclipse RCP provides a rich user interface environment.
Because the original Eclipse RCP application (Eclipse IDE) was built to satisfy the needs of a demanding user base (expert Java developers), it evolved a rich set of GUI components and forms.

4. SWT widgets are fast.
Because most SWT widgets are thin wrappers around the host operating system's native widgets, Eclipse RCP applications have responsiveness that is normally found in C/C++ applications.

With Eclipse RCP technology, powerful applications can be written quickly and then deployed and updated over the Web. This combination of rapid application development and centralized application management makes Eclipse RCP a compelling alternative to heavily JavaScript-laden browser-based thin clients. our consulting team today to see if Eclipse RCP technology is right for your next project.