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Tutorial explains Eclipse “rich-client” plugins

Apr 3, 2008 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

IBM DeveloperWorks has published the second in a two-part series on the Eclipse Plugin Development Environment (PDE). Chris Aniszczyk's “Plug-in Development 101, Part 2” provides tips and techniques on building rich-client applications with Eclipse plugins, including advice on launching and branding tasks.

Aniszczyk is a notable Eclipse project contributor who was named “Top Committer” in Eclipse's EclipseCon 2008 Technology Awards, presented last month. He works for IBM's Lotus Notes division, with a focus on OSGi (open service gateway initiative), which Eclipse recently adopted for its new Eclipse Runtime project. In a sidebar entitled, “What's this OSGi business about?” Aniszczyk explains:

In V3.0, Eclipse made a big leap by choosing OSGi to replace the rickety Eclipse plug-in technology found in earlier versions. The OSGi Alliance is an independent, nonprofit corporation responsible for OSGi technology. It is akin to the Eclipse Foundation in function. The OSGi Alliance is responsible for producing specifications describing OSGi technology. In brief, OSGi technology provides a service-oriented plug-in-based platform for application development. Various implementations are based on these specifications. One of the most popular implementations is Equinox, which is Eclipse's implementation of the specification.

Part 1 of the intermediate-level “Plug-in development 101,” published on Feb. 12, provides an overview of fundamentals. Aniszczyk (pictured at top), starts with a short, sweet definition of an Eclipse plugin: it's a “Java Archive (JAR) that is self-contained and self-describing.” He then shows how to create a plugin project, selecting a template, and using the manifest editor to modify it. Aniszczyk covers modification tasks such as designating exported packages with the Runtime page and specifying dependencies. He concludes with testing and debugging, externalizing strings, and organizing manifests.

In Part 2, the author quickly moves through the steps of building and exporting a project, and then focuses on the heart of rich-client development in the PDE: the product configuration editor. Here Aniszczyk describes using the Launching tab, which includes a Java Runtime Environment (JRE) section that streamlines the bundling of platform-specific JREs. He shows how to work with the Program Launcher section to customize the launch executable, for example by giving it a new filename or by creating a launch icon. Aniszczyk also explains the Launching Arguments section where developers can apply platform-specific launch parameters.

The tutorial concludes with a discussion of creating a splash screen, and the application of various “branding” features. These include customizing window images, creating a custom “about” dialog, and building a welcome page.


IBM DeveloperWorks's Eclipse “Plug-in development 101” tutorials are available for free download. The Part 1 overview is available here, and the Part 2 tutorial on building a rich-client application is here.

Last month IBM DeveloperWorks published a tutorial by Frank Abelson that specifically addressed Eclipse plugin development for the Google Android platform (see first link below).

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