Rich clients

Back to the Workplace client. Justin links to the Qanyon World Factbook RCP application, which shows off the technology behind the new rich client. Useful stuff. The page details some advantages of the platform thus:

  • Platform independence
  • Native user interface with SWT
  • Eclipse plugin system
  • Easy integration of webbrowser / ActiveX components
  • Great community and industry support
  • Open Source with CPL license

… which is a little odd. Point one is in direct contradiction with the latter part of point four, surely? I mean, who would even think of using something as dodgy and proprietary as ActiveX? ;-)

More at VoweWiki.


  1. This is the age-old question, faithful to the platform UI or faithful to a cross-platform UI?

    Here's a simple platform difference as an example: Say that you want to use a tray icon for notifications under Windows -- many Windows applications do this including the Notes client. There's no platform-independent way to do this type of notification with "pure" Java Swing code. So do you say, "Sorry, Mr. Joe User, my Java purity badge won't allow me to sully my application UI with platform specific features" or do you accept that there are some platform differences that might require native code and move on. The same type of notification would be done in a different way on Linux, Macintosh, etc. Having a UI abstraction that exploits the underlying UI in the OS is goodness. Users don't care what technology was used to write an application if it gives them less than the full experience they expect. The beauty of the Eclipse / SWT / RCP platform is that it doesn't feel different from any other application on the platform. Users shouldn't notice or care that it's written in Java.Bob Congdon#
  2. Users shouldn’t notice or care that it’s written in Java
    Totally agree; you’ll get no argument from me on that score. I’m just picking on the ActiveX comment, a reference (admittedly oblique) to the Workplace rich client demo at Lotusphere last month ;-)

    The UI abstraction is absolutely required.Ben Poole#
  3. Incidentally, more on UIs… This time taken from the comments to a post at Eclipse Powered. (Some have complained about the UI changes made to Eclipse in this milestone release):
    … Some of the changes are being driven by Lotus, which wants a distinctive look for their Workplace Client. But Lotus is also contributing the idea of themes to make it user (or program) configurable, which we’d like to make it in to 3.0. Poole#
  4. I smirked at the comments at eclipsepowered.

    Imagine having to build apps with tools where Lotus mandates the UI.

    Imagine having done it for nearly 14 years.
    Justin Knol#
  5. Heh heh.

    Returning to Bob’s comments re users, and being serious for a moment, I class developers as one of the key groups of users for any RCP initiative, but particularly so for the Workplace client as it matures.

    Whilst using ActiveX and other platform-centric stuff is great in terms of options (for example, I’m sure many of us code to an intranet app / platform standard which is along the lines of Windoze and IE), I wouldn’t want to see the core technology for a product based on stuff that isn’t easily transferred to platforms other than Windows (and vice versa).

    That’s all :-)Ben Poole#
  6. No disagreement here - the more platforms (equally well supported), the better.

    It is always a tough call. Do you lower the barrier to entry for developers so that it is easy to take existing platform-specific code to a new tool? This usually means the creaton of an app that is still platform specific and is now dependent on two technologies instead of one.

    Justin Knol#
  7. Justin and Ben,

    Lotus contributed code to Eclipse, it's not mandating UI. A subsequent comment on eclipsepowered clarified this:

    Just to clarify my previous comment, Lotus didn't contribute the 'new look' code, and in fact somebody from Lotus just objected to it in bug 37997. I think they want to have support for changing the look, for example changing the font, color, and gradients for view titles.

    Caveat: I don't speak for IBM / Lotus and I'm only peripherally aware of work that's being done on RCP. I'm a server guy, we push bytes around. UI, what's that? Oh, that thing everyone has a strong opinion about? No, we just push bytes around. As long as we give you the right bytes and they arrive in a timely fashion to the right place, no one notices. Lucky that . ;-)Bob Congdon#
  8. Wise move Bob ;-)Ben Poole#

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