Eclipse touts desktop client tool at event

The Eclipse Foundation at the EclipseWorld 2006 conference this week plans to tout the progress of open source projects focused on desktop application development, PHP (Hypertext Processor) and embedded Java.

Honing in on a recent Evans Data survey that Eclipse and several member organizations funded, Eclipse will herald an annual growth rate of 130 percent in the number of respondents building applications based on Eclipse RCP (Rich Client Platform). The RCP is Eclipse's answer to the Windows juggernaut for development of desktop applications. Approximately 22 percent of the 400 respondents in this year's survey indicated they were building applications based on RCP.

RCP features Equinox, which is a component framework based on the OSGi standard, and the ability to deploy native GUI applications to several desktop operating systems including Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. Also featured is an integrated update mechanism for deploying desktop applications from a central server.

Although development of applications for the Web has been taking the headlines lately, rich client applications still have a place, said Mike Milinkovich, Eclipse executive director. There will always be a need for applications on the desktop that take advantage of local computing resources and can work in both disconnected and connected fashions.

While RCP can be used for building Windows applications, Eclipse views it as a competitor to the Windows platform. "[RCP] has the additional advantage that you can take applications and run on Linux, Mac, and Windows, but we definitely see this as an alternative to Windows .Net," Milinkovich said.

Organizations such as SAS Institute, NASA, and the US Army feature RCP in applications, he said.

Eclipse also has a new project just getting started for rich Internet applications, called the Rich AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) Platform project

Also at the show, Eclipse plans to talk about upcoming developments such as the impending release of its PHP IDE project. "We are expecting our PHP tools project to be making [its] first release in Q4," Milinkovich said.

"In Q4, we're expecting our Mobile Tools for Java project to be shipping and our embedded RCP project will be shipping as well," Milinkovich said.

Mobile Tools for Java features a set of development tools for programmers building applications for mobile devices running Java. Embedded RCP is a runtime to extend the RCP to embedded devices.

In the next few months, Eclipse plans maintenance releases to fix any bugs in its Callisto project, which was launched in June and featured the simultaneous release of 10 open source projects. The first maintenance release is on Sept. 29 while a second is planned for approximately Feb. 1, 2007.

Also at EclipseWorld, Instantiations is announcing Version 2.0 of RCP Developer, which is a development tool for building Eclipse RCP applications. The new version adds a Help Composer feature, to ease documentation, and extends Linux support for the RCP Packager and WindowTester features. WindowTester feature automates testing of GUIs for Linux while RCP Packager streamlines the build and deployment process.

Version 2.0 is centered on making it easier to focus on developing business logic rather than maintaining infrastructure code.

Eclipse on Sept. 11, meanwhile, plans to have a creation review for the Eclipse Orbit Project. The project will provide a repository of bundled versions of third-party libraries that are approved for use in one or more Eclipse projects, according to the Eclipse Web site. Older versions of such libraries will be maintained by the repository as well.

"One of the key issues with the current situation is the inconsistency in naming, versioning, and form of bundled third party libraries. This project will, as a mainline activity, provide a repository of approved and bundled third party libraries to authorized project teams. This eliminates duplicated work and bundle naming, structuring and versioning variations," the Eclipse site said.

Also on Sept. 11, Eclipse will be reviewing its AspectJ Development Tools Project for aspect-oriented software development (AOSD), according to the organization's Web site.

"The AspectJ Development Tools (AJDT) project provides Eclipse platform-based tool support for AOSD with AspectJ," the Eclipse site said.

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