The Eclipse RCP is a framework for client applications that has clearly been used with great success to support the IDE itself, but when it comes to building other applications the picture is not necessarily as clear. Lately I have had to ask myself, "Will Eclipse RCP ever be used for more than the IDE and for making nerd applications?"
So why am I saying this, - maybe I should introduce you to my world!!
I’m representing/working in a Nordic bank where we have chosen Eclipse RCP after evaluating many different technologies for our primary client platform. I’ve been the one of the “tech” people driving this, and after prototypes and all sort of discussion we ended with a chosen framework: Eclipse RCP.
I won’t go into details, but when evaluating the different technologies one of the most important considerations was:
That material is available to educate and understand (able to look up etc) the chosen technology.
If we want to implement this in the whole bank, with programmers of many different skill levels, then the learning curve has to be as easy as possible. This is especially significant when taking into account the basic knowledge of Eclipse RCP shared by these developers and in the Nordic region, in general.
At the time we started to look into all the Eclipse books and internet articles, and the most valued book was “Eclipse Rich Client Platform” written by Jeff McAffer and Jean-Michel Lemieus. Without this book we would never had dared to choose Eclipse RCP as our client platform. Our thoughts were very clear on this: if Eclipse documentation is not kept up to date, the learning curve will be very high, and it would be a no go for us.
So why did we choose it? Well, we were evaluating whether to adopt version 3.2, and the book is for version 3.1. The difference between these minor versions was ok when the book was only used for learning the basics. We had to live with two versions of Eclipse for a while, since learning Eclipse and porting the examples to version 3.2 at the same time was too much.
Now we are working with version 3.3 and very soon (the end of June) we expect to be using version 3.4. Unfortunately, the book is no longer useful because too much has changed.
Please don't misunderstand me the help.eclipse.org site is very good, but to enable people to understand Eclipse and learn it, there needs to be a current, up-to-date book.
IF the Eclipse Foundation wants to drive Eclipse RCP to be one of the client platforms on which companies can build rich client platforms upon, then the documentation level just must rise. How can eclipse.dk strive for the goal to be a widely adopted Client Platform if it’s going to have such old and outdated documentation?
I asked Jeff McAffer when there is going to be a new version of the book out? He didn’t know, and I don’t think its Mr. McAffer's fault that he doesn’t know. He actually did a very good job with this book for the Eclispe RCP version he covered. It’s the people that decide how the resources are used, so why is this book not updated?
Right now there is no book describing how Eclipse can be used, if so please let me know… (Even the new EMF book coming out this next month is already obsolete)
Please read this in as positive a spirit as possible. I’m saying all this because I’ve looked at many frameworks, and Eclipse RCP is one of the best I’ve seen. SOO many other people would learn and adopt Eclipse RCP if there were better learning resources available.