Eclipse 4.1 Application Platform – A platform for anyone


This post is dedicated to “Eclipse 4.1 Application Platform” (EAP).

So what is the EAP? In short it is a Widget-Toolkit agonstic UI-Application framework for OSGi which provides the following features:

  • An extensible central application model abstracting the main concepts of UI-Applications:
    • UI-Concepts like Windows, Toolbars, Parts, …
    • None-UI Concepts like Commands and Handlers, Extensions, …
    • An event bus to get away with listeners
    • UI-State persistance
  • A dependency injection container to keep up with modern programming technologies
  • An extension system build applications from various modules instead one big

As said the EAP-Core is widget agonstic and can be used with any native UI-Technology you want to write your applications with.

Here’s an example application coded 3 times with the native technologies. The only thing they share is the EAP which provides the runtime platform.

  • SWT
  • Swing
  • JavaFX

As of now SWT is the platform with the best support because the Eclipse 4.1 SDK is built on top of EAP and ships with a set of default SWT-Renderes. The Swing and JavaFX implementations for EAP are currently proof of concepts but can be used as a show case of how powerful and flexible the design of EAP is (you’ll find the sources in my github-repo).

The only interface EAP requires you to implement and register looks is this:

public interface IPresentationEngine {
 public Object createGui(MUIElement element, Object parentWidget, IEclipseContext parentContext);

 public Object createGui(MUIElement element);

 public void removeGui(MUIElement element);

 public Object run(MApplicationElement uiRoot, IEclipseContext appContext);

 public void stop();

This where EAP hands over control to you to build and keep the UI in sync with the model.

The already written IPresentationEngine implementation for Eclipse 4.1 is a good source of inspiration on how one could approach the problem but finally it is up to you - all the EAP expects you to respect is the IPresentationEngine-Interface.

... and before some mentions that the current application model is not supporting modern UI-Concepts needed to built App-UIs as you know them from smart phones, tablets, ... . You can extend the application model and add the concepts you think are missing.

All I can say: If you have the task to write an UI-Application you should take a look at this new but quite solid runtime platform because it offers you many advanced concepts you'd have to reinvent if not doing so.

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7 Responses to “Eclipse 4.1 Application Platform – A platform for anyone”

  1. Sebastien Schneider Reply July 13, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Hi Tom,
    What is the relation between UFaceKit and EAP (if there’s one) ?

    • Well some of the experience i gathered with UFacekit has influenced EAP in one or the other way but the real difference between those are the UFaceKit is generic UI-API (specialized for Form-UIs) and EAP is an application platform with a programming model (DI) and a completely generic application model which goes beyond UI including none UI centric stuff like commands/handlers but puts them into context with UI

  2. Can mix the different render within the same UI, e.g. one part is SWT, one part is JavaFx ?

    • Well you can do that even in 3.x but you need an integration between the technologies so while doable (e.g. Swing-SWT-Bridge) i don’t think that’s the way to go

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Eclipse 4.1: Run your 3.x RCP in 4.1 | Tomsondev Blog - July 1, 2011

    [...] So there are many 3.x-RCP application and their developers who’d like to run their RCP-Apps ontop of the Eclipse 4.1 RCP (Attention: Don’t mix this up with the Eclipse 4 Application Platform – I’ve blogged about lately). [...]

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