With more people realising the power of Eclipse as a Rich Client Platform, it is natural to expect things to move on to the next level. That next level is Enterprise Applications with a typical scenario involving multi-tiered platforms with a strong emphasis on a sophisticated UI and robust backend data processing such as workflow and high volume data storage.
The Eclipse Riena project aims to bridge the gap between enterprise and Eclipse RCP projects. The project is approaching an M4 release at the end of August.
Riena is a platform for building multi-tier enterprise client/server applications. The programming model introduced by Riena will use the SOA approach of Equinox but will not distinguish between the access of local or remote services. Using the same concept and the same programming model on client and server is the greatest benefit that makes these new types of enterprise applications.
The scope of the project is described quite well in the proposal document:
The Riena platform will be the foundation for building multi-tier enterprise client/server applications. As such Riena will broaden the usage of the service oriented architecture of OSGi/Equinox by providing access to local and remote services in a transparent way. Using this uniform programming model, the components of Riena and the business components of the enterprise application can be developed regardless of their target location. Components are later easily placed on client or server depending on the business requirements.
Riena leverages everything that Equinox and the Eclipse RCP and also provides it's own services, like authentication and authorization currently based on JAAS but will be integrating with Equinox Security.
A software update service, using p2 from Eclipse, allows the client to synchronise up to match the latest server version. There's a lot more covered by the project also including reporting, ObjectTransaction, link to Persistence support like the one from EclipseLink, Monitoring of client state and third party application integration.
There's also an interesting user interface vision, where the project creators have realised that, while developers are quite happy with the Eclipse IDE's UI, the typical user of an enterprise application won't be so comfortable with it. The proposed changes are less dynamic, with a simpler navigation tree. As you can see from this screenshot of a default Riena UI, it’s quite different from the interface we’re used to, but a lot more familiar to the target audience
The project provides new opportunities for Eclipse developers to get into business oriented applications, which have traditionally been dominated by Microsoft technologies. It’ll be worth grabbing the milestone when it’s available to give some feedback to the project before the final 1.0 release.