Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Types of Applications You Can Create with Eclipse Platform

The Eclipse Platform provides many tools and frameworks to build your application. They are flexible so you can do it in several ways according to your requirements.

Here are the most common application types:

1. OSGi (Equinox) Application

Using the bare minimum OSGi runtime Equinox (or your favorite OSGi runtime).
You can use OSGi services and OSGi bundles, but not loading the Eclipse Runtime (org.eclipse.core.runtime).

2. Eclipse Console Application

Using Eclipse Runtime (org.eclipse.core.runtime), but without any UI bundles.
You can actually do a lot of things in this mode.

3. Server/Daemon-style Eclipse Console Application

This is actually just an Eclipse Console application, but that does not exit and continue running in the background.
Daemon applications usually started with the -noExit command line argument or configuration.

4. Eclipse Rich Client Platform (RCP) for Desktop Applications

The most typical Eclipse application for the desktop.
Uses the org.eclipse.rcp plugin.
With features like perspectives, views, Common Navigator Framework, editors, action bars (toolbars), status line, menus, popup menus, ...
It offers the rich plugins and functionality provided by Eclipse framework, and manageable overhead (disk space, memory usage, and performance).
A well designed Eclipse RCP application starts just as fast as a hand-coded Swing application!
Don't let the (slow) startup time of Eclipse Java IDE fool you...

5. Eclipse IDE Application

The most representative example is the Eclipse Java IDE itself.
Uses org.eclipse.ui.ide plugin and other plugins, including org.eclipse.jdt.ui,
Most application developers do not use these plugins, for smaller disk and memory footprint requirements.
However, just to let you know that you can use them if you want. :-)

6. Eclipse Rich Ajax Platform (RAP) for Web Applications

The new kid on the block, but is already very potential and is gaining momentum very fast.
Uses org.eclipse.rap.ui plugin.
RAP applications can be single sourced so that it runs on both Eclipse RCP and Eclipse RAP runtimes, however you need to be aware that RAP applications are multi-user / multi-session, where RCP applications are single user.
The most common Eclipse UI plugins are supported by RAP runtime (including EMF Editor UI), and more (Draw2d, Common Navigator Framework aka CNF) are still coming soon.

7. Eclipse Riena RCP Application

Framework for multi-tier / distributed application development.
Write your plugins / application components in an uniform approach.
Then deploy them in any side, whether in server or client-side.
Eclipse Riena applications have at least two deployment artifacts, the one in client and the one in server.
However, components do not care about the deployment, you write the components using the same framework.
Riena abstracts the details of the deployment.

8. Eclipse Riena RAP Application

The exact same application that you can write on Eclipse Riena RCP, can be deployed as a web application using RAP frontend!

9. Standalone Java application

Contrary to what you might have believed, many Eclipse projects that bears the prefix "org.eclipse" in its name do not require running within Eclipse Runtime.
For example, EMF (Eclipse Modeling Framework) runs fine within a standard Java static main() method.
You just need to configure several stuff, that are normally done automatically using Eclipse extension mechanism. ;-)


  1. You forgot one other thing... "Any software environment you can imagine". :D With tools like EMF and M2T, you can target any platform. Now I know you were thinking about explicit internal support but I just had to mention it because there is an enormous amount of potential here.

  2. "A well designed Eclipse RCP application starts just as fast as a hand-coded Swing application!"

    No. Faster. Much Faster. Swing apps fell out of the ugly tree. Let them die.


  3. @Miles How true! I still am exploring that "enormous potential".. It still requires some effort though.

    @Phillipus Bwhahahaha... Good one! :)

    @Lars Does it run yet? (at least part of it?) Does Equinox even run? Or you're thinking "cross-compiling" Ecore models to Android apps...

    @all Thanks for lovely and funny comments :)

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