EclipseSource Launches RAP Mobile

EclipseSource, a developer of commercial solutions based on open source Eclipse technologies, has just unveiled RAP mobile, an alternative for developing apps in Java based on the Eclipse Rich Ajax Platform (RAP).

RAP is an open source project in the community with the goal of making it possible for Java developers to build rich, Ajax-enabled applications that run on the desktop and the Web from a single code base. RAP relies on the Eclipse development model, plug-ins with the Eclipse workbench extension points and the open source widget toolkit known as the Eclipse SWT API. The SWT -- Standard Widget Toolkit -- is Eclipse's widget toolkit for Java. It comes with features such as drag-and-drop, loading data on demand, inline editing and drawing. It also uses the API of the JFace Java application framework, which is based on SWT.

This combination of technologies makes it possible to run Eclipse Rich Client Platform (RCP) applications as Web applications with just a few modifications.

RAP mobile is an EclipseSource commercial project. The project aims to make it possible to write the app entirely in Java using popular Java IDEs, without the need for cross-compiling, according to the company. The product is a widget toolkit that renders native iOS and Android widgets. It uses a JSON-based message format and an open source server to render UIs written in Java on supported client platforms.

EclipseSource managing director Jochen Krause explained on his blog that the project grew out of developer frustrations with other mobile app dev technologies, including HTML5.

"HTML5 is great technology," he wrote, "not only for mobile, but there is a growing body of lessons learned the hard way. Our own experience revealed that it is easy to get started with HTML5 and that the state-of-the-art JavaScript libraries look really great. But when it comes to running and using the apps the excitement mostly turned into disillusion."

"RAP mobile gives us some key advantages over the alternatives," Krause added. "First, it allows multi-platform development in Java. It uses the iOS and Android native widget toolkits for rendering the user interface with optimal performance and native look and feel. And, it provides a mature and Open Source platform for writing and deploying business applications on standard JEE servers. It also provides a solution for common data security concerns with mobile devices."

Initially, RAP mobile will provide native clients for iOS and Android, as well as an open source browser client. An open source RAP server is also being developed. It's being designed to work with standard servlet technology and run on any JEE servlet container. The RAP server will also integrate with the module-based design principles defined by the OSGi (Open Services Gateway Initiative), which have emerged as the defacto means of componentizing enterprise Java. And it works with such Eclipse technologies as Equinox, EMF, Birt, CDO, EclipseLink and Virgo, among others.

The company has also launched a RAP mobile developer preview program. Initially, the program will be closed (developers will have to apply for access). The company says that it's starting with a few hundred developers, but plans to release a public beta this summer.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].