The Eclipse SDK provides an open framework to enhance functionality to the Integrated Development Environment (IDE). These features (or plug-ins) are easily versioned and dynamically installed or updated without restarting the IDE. Software developers using Eclipse have often wished for a similar model for their desktop applications. With previous versions of Eclipse, this was possible but difficult, especially when heavily customizing menus, layouts, and other user interface elements.
Eclipse Version 3 introduces the Rich Client Platform (RCP), a refactoring of the fundamental parts of the UI, enabling RCP to be used as a general-purpose application platform. Its internals are the same OSGi run time and GUI toolkit provided by the Eclipse IDE, but now these are easily used by application developers to provide robust, customizable, and portable Java
™ applications. Because of its Eclipse open source license, you can use the technologies that went into Eclipse to create your own commercial-quality programs. The GUI toolkits used by Eclipse RCP are the same used by the Eclipse IDE and enable applications with optimal performance that have a native look and feel on any platform that they run on.
The client platform provides the default product and workbench. The workbench provides the default look-and-feel that incorporates the base menus, images, and application launcher. Application developers can create new applications that run within the confines of the platform. The workbench provides the facilities that developers can use to enable applications to be launched.
There are two main application user interface types that can be hosted within the platform. Web application based user interfaces are displayed within an embedded browser view that is part of a predefined perspective provided by the platform. The web application can either be locally hosted within the provided web container environment, or be running on a remote server. For more information on creating web applications, refer to Developing Web applications
The second main application user interface type is an application built using Java-based widgets. In order to contribute to the workbench, applications must provide a perspective and declare the perspective to the workbench using the com.ibm.eswe.workbench.WctApplication
extension point. The perspective is a standard Eclipse perspective and is composed of one or more views (or editors). Views (and editors) are constructed from UI widgets such as tables, buttons, text fields and more. Wizards and dialogs can also be created by the application to perform specific tasks. Wizards and dialogs can be launched by widgets (buttons) within a view, or from various menu bars that are available within the platform.
Parent topic: Understanding the user interface