Monday, June 27, 2005

Rich Client Platform is Eclipse's JavaOne headline act

Later today, the Eclipse Foundation — the organization responsible for the oversight of the Eclipse integrated development environment (an IDE for deploying Java applications) is expected to make a series of announcements according to the organization's vice president of marketing Ian Skerrett. The audio version of the interview is available as an MP3 that can be downloaded or, if you’re already subscribed to ZDNet’s IT Matters series of audio podcasts, it will show up on your system or MP3 player automatically. See ZDNet’s podcasts: How to tune in.

Although the opening act for Eclipse at JavaOne will be the launch of version 3.1 of the Eclipse IDE, the news that everyone will probably be talking about is Eclipse's Rich Client Platform (RCP). In the interview Skerrett described the RCP like this:

We're moving beyond just development tools in developing a platform for end user applications. Let me give you and example. When I subscribe to different blogs with RSS feeds, I have an RSS newsreader that is actually built on top of Eclipse in Eclipse RCP. I'm not using it through a browser. I'm using it through a Windows application, a Windows application that gives me the look and feel that I want and it has nothing to do with the development tools. The announcement we're making this week is really the momentum we've seen around the Eclipse RCP and the new features and functionality that we brought into RCP. The key that we've been working on for RCP is two main focuses. One, to improve the tooling for creating rich client applications. So we've done a lot of work on the packaging and the branding which are very important if you're a company like SAS whose end user BI and analytic applications — they want it to look a SAS application. So we've done a lot of work on the packaging and branding around Eclipse RCP and also around performance. We've done a lot of work on performance to make sure that the startup time and the memory requirements for RCP applications are as minimal as possible and as fast a possible.

The alternative to a SAS application looking like a SAS application is a SAS application looking like other Java applications. In other words, now that the RCP is out, Eclipse is closer to delivering not only on one of its long term promises, but it's also digging itself deeper under the fingernails and Sun and the IDE it favors — NetBeans. The promise of Java has always been the idea of write once, run anywhere (WORA). After developers crunch their Java applications into a series of bytecodes, those applications should run identically on any computer that has a Java Virtual Machine (the JVM) regardless of the underlying platform.

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