Eclipse RAP Integrates Java Tools for RIA Development

The Eclipse Foundation released version 1.0 of the Eclipse Rich AJAX Platform (RAP). The organization is billing this toolset as the first AJAX platform that allows developers to create rich Internet applications (RIAs) using the Eclipse component model.

RAP 1.0 is based on the OSGi standard of the OSGi Alliance. OSGi is a service-oriented, component-based environment designed to promote the interoperability of applications and services. Organizations can use RAP to create AJAX and RIA applications that are component-based and that integrate into existing enterprise systems, according to Jochen Krause, leader of Eclipse RAP project and CEO of Germany-based Innoopract Informationssysteme.

"It's basically an AJAX runtime that allows developers to build RIAs and programs entirely in Java," Krause said. "They can use the Eclipse plug-ins to modularize their applications, and so they get very powerful and extensible applications."

Eclipse RAP is based on the Eclipse Rich Client Platform (RCP), a well-known and established framework for RIAs. The applications built with RAP can be run with RCP, Krause says, proving a single source for rich desktop and rich Internet applications.

Innoopract has been the driving force behind the 15-month-old Eclipse RAP project. A software and services company with offices in Karlsruhe, Germany, and Portland, Oregon, Innoopract is a founding member of the Eclipse Foundation. The company bases its products and services on the Eclipse development platform. It is probably best known as the creator of the Yoxos Eclipse distribution, which bundles dozens of popular open source plug-ins and an easy-to-use installation tool.

"The RAP is infrastructure," Krause said. "And we came to the conclusion that if you want to establish infrastructure, the only way you can do that -- if you're not Microsoft -- is through open source." The RAP release is the first middleware delivered by the Eclipse Foundation, Krause added.

Eclipse Foundation Marketing Manager Ian Skerrett noted the importance of RAP for enterprise developers in a recent blog posting.

"The neat thing about RAP is that you write AJAX applications in Java and use the Eclipse component model based on OSGi," Skerrett wrote. "Think of it something like GWT [Google Web Toolkit] but using Eclipse plug-ins. This means you can now architect your AJAX applications as extensible components. For large companies this is a big deal since they typically like to create architectures that help them reuse code in different applications."

RAP 1.0 includes features designed for enterprises that are building a large number of new applications based on AJAX and RIA technologies. A list of those features includes:

  • The ability to create and deploy RIA or RCP applications from the same Java code base, allowing organizations the flexibility to create browser-based RIA applications or desktop-based rich client applications.
  • Support for creating AJAX applications based on the OSGi component model.
  • Java development tools that tightly integrate with the Eclipse platform and allow developers to quickly develop, test, debug and deploy RIA applications.
  • A complete set of frameworks for creating AJAX applications that support scalable user interfaces, complex widgets, databinding and loose coupling for UI elements.

Eclipse RAP 1.0 is available now as a free download here. More information is available on the Foundation's RAP page.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].