Eclipse the ubiquitous platform has survived another challenge by releasing the Europa and i am already seeing the # of downloads. Initially it was Java IDE then RCP Platform then Tool Building Platform and now as i know its an eco-system of major frameworks, tools, runtimes and platform which can be extended for ANYTHING an NOTHING in particular. OK, i am not going to define what eclipse does and what not. The scope of my article is to highlight the problems i am solving with eclipse platform.
I have been using eclipse right from 2003 and built tools on Automotive Domain and Ajax&SOA Domain. I have been closely following the other implementations on different verticals. Several OEMs, ISVs, Startups, Universities and individuals have adopted the eclipse “principles” and they know what they are doing soon after they use it. All the content in this article is purely my personal views from my professional experience and do not correlate to any ones opinions dead or alive 😉
What can i do with Eclipse : I would want to start with highlighting the tasks which can be accomplished with eclipse. I am hoping that we will understand the differences between using the eclipse, developing the plugins, making an IDE out of eclipse and eclipse as an integration platform.
Eclipse an IDE : This is what many of us know about the eclipse and what can it do. Its a Java IDE and java developers can create, modify, build the java projects in eclipse. It provides different features like code refactoring (one of the gr8 feature), syntax highlighting, syntax/code checks, code completion, code suggestions, compile, debug, jarring, etc… I have used for an year with out knowing what ELSE can eclipse do. In this use-case we are primarily involved in using the eclipse IDE features as is. I am sure that you are aware of different eclipse language ides like, JDT, CDT, Cobol, PHP editors amongst the most popular ones.
Eclipse Happy User.
Eclipse does Plugins : By this time you know that eclipse can be used to develop plugins and bootstrap in eclipse. Design Plugins in Eclipse -> Develop Plugins in Eclipse -> Test in Eclipse -> Run in Eclipse. A plugin is a logical group of some functionality that in turn can be run in eclipse. If there is no UI part that is associated, it can be used as a simple jar file. In any case its pretty common that we have some UI associated with the plugin. This can be run either on a normal eclipse platform or on a RCP environment.
A simplest plugin you can think of it is a Hello World application (damn…why always HelloWorld). You basically want to contribute an action item to the toolbar of eclipse and on click of that button you want to display a dialog with Hello World Message. Thus in this plugin, you just USEd the eclipse platform to add some functionality your current eclipse runtime.
Basic Plugin Developer.
Eclipse as a Platform :All of us know about the JDT, CDT, PHP language plugins. On this level of platform usage, we as developers are building the different kind of plugins and these they will be used by target audience, who in turn develop some applications with our language kit. Its like one of my colleague had developed Cobol Language toolkit for Fujitsu customer (of course they have released it to open source after some time). In my view i think of the some of the editors like JSF Editor, XML Editors, JSP Editor, JS Editor that fall under this category.
There are many companies that are using the Eclipse as their real time application configuration platform. Its like they have the metadata and the configuration of metadata is a big deal.
Advanced Plugin Developer.
Eclipse an Integration Framework :This is the highest level of integration and complex applications that i have seen with Eclipse. Here i am talking about different usecases. One of the nice example is to be able to create the entire development life cycle of your complex engineering activities in to the eclipse. Starting from System Requirements, Software Requirements, Component Design, Function Design, Coding, Unit Testing, Integration Testing, System Testing, Delivery and finally Issue Tracking into Eclipse. Dont feel apprehensive about the possibility, i am aware of some companies who have done this. This on the ground level means, to integrate different tools [editors, compilers, debuggers, configurators] into eclipse. The integration can be done done on sharing different data models/formats primarily on the EMF models.
Many companies have integrated some AJAX and SOA kind of applications. A typical of these applications would use Platform, WTP, ATF, DTP. The final application could be a RCP application or a plugin distributed via internet/intranet.
I also knew of many Data ETL companies that have started adopting the eclipse as their integration platform of their next generation tooling platform. Many have migrated from their conventional COM/DCOM and Perl based applications to java/eclipse.
Happy Application Integrator.
In the next article i want to highlight the different usecases that are prevailing in the automobile and web 2.0 industries.
In the end you need to know that Eclipse is an ECO System.
You have almost all plugins, tools and frameworks that you want to build/integrate your applications.
Till then Happy Application Integration with Eclipse.