October 14, 2006

Eclipse Summit

Wednesday and Thursday, I've been at the Eclipse Summit Europe in Esslingen. It's an event for Eclipse professionals and I felt a bit lost among all these experts. Without the experience of years of Smalltalk-, Java-, Eclipse-, etc. business, it's sometimes hard to follow. Anyway, I learned a lot there. I got to know some projects that I was'nt aware of before, such as the Rich Ajax Platform (RAP) by Innoopract that emulates a complete Eclipse UI in a web browser using HTML and JavaScript. Also BIRT was completely new to me. In a so-called BoF meeting, Alexei Aristov presented a new way to create RCP applications using only a markup language (RCML) and some scripting. I found that approach very impressing and promising, but some people argued that XML is again just code and thus it wouldn't really simplify things. Well, I think there is still a difference between declaring and programming, and things like a static user interface can be declared just as well. This also makes it easier to let different people create the UI and the logic, and to adapt UI code when some API changes. Well, but that's just one thing that concerned me. In the RCP symposium, I presented some of the rich client features from my thesis and suggested that some security and client-server capabilities are still missing in RCP. This was immediately contradicted by some people and raised a discussion whether the RCP is about client/server applications at all. To my surprise, most people denied this and said RCP is only a UI platform and things like client-server communication or security would only bloat it. Well if that's the general view on RCP, then the name Rich Client Platform is really misleading. I consider a rich client as the client part of a distributed application — opposed to a thin client, which also needs a server. Later in a talk, Wayne Beaton said, he wasn't very comfortable with the name RCP anyway because it was actually not a name but a description (and obviously not a good one). Something like Callisto is indeed much cooler. After all, I listened to some very interesting fellows and learned about a lot of projects I didn't know before.

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