Anatomy of an Eclipse Rich Client Platform Application

Wayne Beaton, Eclipse Foundation evangelist, gave an overview of the Eclipse Rich Client Platform (RCP). As he spoke, I thought of Eclipse RCP as a Fat Client minus the lard. Wayne described a Rich Client Platform as a system that provides a rich user experience, is platform independent and extensible, and provides a component model.

The Eclipse IDE is itself a collection of plugins, or components, on top of the base Eclipse platform. A big aspect of Eclipse RCP is Equinox, the OSGi based module system used to discover Eclipse plugins. In this context, plugins, modules, and components are used interchangeably.

Wayne gave a quick overview of the plugin structure of Eclipse. Basically Eclipse provides extension or plugin points at its core level. Adding or removing functionality is as simple as adding and removing files from the plugin directory in the Eclipse installation directory.

Wayne also mentioned Mylar. Mylar monitors and remembers which resources a developer is interested in for a recorded task and hides the rest. Wayne said, “You need to look into Mylar. Mylar will change your life.”

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