Let’s rename Eclipse RCP

I love Eclipse RCP. I’ve devoted the last 6 years of my life to developing with RCP as well as teaching it to others. In my opinion it’s one of the most important (and underused) technologies for developing UI applications. Having said all that, the name is horrible and it’s time to change it.

My preference would be to rename Eclipse RCP as part of the Eclipse 4.0 release. There are few times in the life of a project when it changes enough to merit a new name, and for Eclipse RCP this will be one of those times. The work being done as part of the e4 project represents a significant evolution of the platform and will make it useful to a far larger audience. A new name (and branding) will go a long way to encourage the adoption of this technology.

If this approach was taken, we would have a year to select a new name and marketing approach. This post is a bit long, but here is where I would start.

RCP is the user interface of OSGi

The adoption curve for OSGi is turning up and developers are quickly coming to see the benefits of modular architectures. Eclipse RCP is perfectly placed to serve as the UI layer for modular software. The name and branding for RCP should reflect this focus on modularity and on its close relationship to OSGi.

I’ve seen a number of projects switch from RCP to Flex because the decision-makers thought they were choosing between two UI toolkits. They were really deciding between a UI toolkit (Flex) and a modular application framework (RCP). This is a problem.

RCP is moving beyond rich clients

When Eclipse 4.0 is released RCP will be much more than a tool for creating rich client applications. RCP and RAP are converging and there should be common naming scheme that unites them. One approach would be to have a base name for the technology that takes a modifier for each targeted architecture, something like “X Web” and “X RC”.

To use “Eclipse” in the name or not

This is a general issue with Eclipse projects. There is always a tension when a set of projects evolves around a spectacularly successful product. On the one hand, it can be beneficial to leverage the success of that product to promote other projects. But it can also lead to a great deal of confusion, and this is particularly true with Eclipse RCP.

To make this work well requires a rigorous approach to project naming and marketing so that the benefits of name recognition are not overwhelmed by a lack of clarity. In my opinion, the best example of this is the job done by the Apache Foundation. While the Apache HTTP server still exists, the word Apache has been successfully rebranded to apply to a whole host of projects. Each of those projects is uniformly named Apache X and benefits from this association.

The Eclipse Foundation has, unfortunately, not done as good a job. Eclipse is still, well, Eclipse. Most developers assume that other Eclipse Foundation projects are somehow related to the IDE and therefore unapplicable to their use cases. Individual projects are named in a wide variety of ways, sometimes using the Eclipse name (Eclipse RCP), sometimes not (BIRT), and sometimes using it as part of an acronym (EMF). Taken as a whole, the project names in the Eclipse ecosystem are extremely confusing.

On a side note (and I’m sure this is a minority opinion), I think that the umbrella names for the release train (Europa, Galileo, etc.) reinforce the idea that Eclipse (and all of it’s projects) are about the IDE.

In any case, to successfully use the Eclipse name the following two things would need to occur:

  1. The adoption of a common naming scheme “Eclipse X” for all projects.
  2. The application of this scheme to Eclipse itself (e.g. Eclipse Workbench)

Without this approach, my opinion is that using the Eclipse name in association with a rebranded RCP is not a good option. My vote would be for a stand-alone name.

Getting started

So much work and thought is going into e4 and there is enormous potential here. Let’s give this technology the name and branding that it needs to reach a wide audience.

I’ve purposely shied away from suggesting names here, but I’ve cross-posted to a Bugzilla entry where potential names can be discussed.

Note: If you agree with this post, please consider commenting on the Bugzilla entry (even a “+1” would help).


19 Responses to Let’s rename Eclipse RCP

  1. Tonny Madsen says:

    Patrick, I agree completely! One just have to look to Apache to see why this is important. But we also have to recognize that this type of re-branding takes times – possibly years…

  2. Patrick says:

    Hi Tonny,

    I’m glad you agree. If you think this is important, it would be great if you could comment on and vote for the Bugzilla entry. And of course if you have any ideas for a name, please post them there too!

    I agree that rebranding can take a long time and patience is definitely required.

    — Patrick

  3. Christian Kurzke says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with your conclusion that there is still a deep rooted perception of “Eclipse == IDE”.

    I myself have tried to evangelize the use of RCP (or OSGi) for projects in various industries, and very often gotten the answer (from engineering managers and architects… the supposedly “technical” folks) that “Oh yes, of course, all our engineers already use Eclipse in this project”.

    Usually is takes me another hour (and many blank stares) to explain that “using Eclipse” to write code, and “using Eclipse RCP” as a component model to create an application are two completely different things.

    Explaining this to “non technical” decision makers is often even more difficult, and more often than not, a project did not chose Eclipse in the end, because someone in e.g. a financial institute would not understand why their branch clerks would need to learn how to use an “IDE”.

    With this said – leveraging the “Eclipse” brand can be very powerful.
    I was part of the early “OSGi” days, and it was hard to convince people of the value of OSGi without any established large players in the industry using it.

    Starting a new brand can be even more time consuming than re-shaping an existing one.

    As you rightly identified, one of the steps to get there is to re-enforce the awareness that Eclipse != IDE.
    The foundation (and everyone speaking in public about Eclipse technologies) needs to be very clear to drive the message that the “Eclipse Workbench” is an IDE product built on top of the Eclipse Software technologies.
    RCP could then brand itself as the Eclipse Component Framework (or Platform), which is the underlying programming model for all Eclipse based products.

    It will take years to drive this message into the user community, but the only way this can be done is to have a clear and consistent use of the terms by everyone in the Eclipse developer community.

  4. Hi Patrick! I totally agree with you too. Eclipse RCP is a wonderful platform to develop and distribute powerfull UI applications. And yes, the name does not do justice to platform. Here in Brazil, a very few people knows their existence. Final of this semester I will be bloging about Eclipse RCP development, with my college assignments developed using RCP, in brazilian portuguese, to try a help on this.

    Agree with you when you say:
    1. The adoption of a common naming scheme “Eclipse X” for all projects.
    2. The application of this scheme to Eclipse itself (e.g. Eclipse Workbench)

    and I’ll try to think in stand-alone names suggestions.

    Tomás Augusto Müller

  5. Patrick says:

    Hi Christian,

    I understand that starting a new brand can be time consuming, but I’m wondering how much of a brand Eclipse RCP really has to begin with. The adoption-level is relatively small so for most developers RCP will actually be a new technology.

    BTW, a great example of how to do this right is what just happened with Apache ServiceMix. A decision was made to break out the core of ServiceMix, which was called the ServiceMix Kernel. Instead of burdening the new project with an unwieldy and derivative name, they decided to call it Apache Karaf.

    Also, it would be great if you could post your thoughts on the Bugzilla entry. Even a simple +1 would help.

    — Patrick

  6. Patrick says:

    Hi Tomas,

    Glad you agree! Please consider posting your thoughts on the Bugzilla entry as that is where decision makers will be looking.

    Any Portuguese words that might work? How do you say “modular UI” in Portuguese? 🙂

    — Patrick

  7. chotin says:

    RCP Rich Client, for me “rich” and “client” are meaningless. Now I know what it means but why “client” client of what? and why rich? I underand it vs web applications but anyway I don’t like it. It should be something like desktop or end user or something like that.

  8. Simon Chemouil says:

    I totally agree too, I have had a hard time explaining what Eclipse RCP is and even once I define it, there is still some confusion, because the strengths of the framework is the modularity and the tooling (imo).

    First, there is the confusion with the Eclipse IDE. Why does the framework have the name of an IDE, what “Eclipse” am I referring to when I’m talking about developing an RCP application with Eclipse?

    Then, RCP refers to Rich Client Platform — and a Rich Client would imply that you make a multi-tiered application with a server, whereas RCP is a minimal subset of bundles that does not imply networked applications at all (however it does imply a GUI).

    Imo, the emphasis should be the advantages of OSGi modularity and the usefulness of the components of the stack.

    So I really agree with you and I hope you succeed in renaming it.

  9. Ian Skerrett says:

    I agree RCP is not a great name. Re-branding not only takes time but everyone needs to be consistent in making the change. In the past it has been a challenge to get everyone to agree that making a change is worth the effort.

    btw, we actually do have guidelines for project naming but maybe not all the projects follow them. http://wiki.eclipse.org/Development_Resources/HOWTO/Project_Naming_Policy

  10. Patrick says:

    Hi Chotin,

    I agree about “Rich Client”. Desktop is a better alternative, so we could have something like:

    X Desktop
    X Web
    X Mobile

    — Patrick

  11. Patrick says:

    Hi Ian,

    Thanks for weighing in. I hadn’t seen the naming document before but I’m glad there is such a thing. In my opinion, though, the “nickname” identifiers (as described in the document) are much more successful than the long technical names that usually result in an acronym soup.

    I’d be interested in your thoughts on the process for renaming RCP. I understand that there has to be a consensus, but I’m wondering what steps need to be taken to actually make something happen. Maybe this could be discussed in the Bugzilla entry.

    — Patrick

  12. Mike Milinkovich says:

    I wasn’t sure if I should comment on this blog or on the bug. Let’s try doing both 🙂

    See https://bugs.eclipse.org/bugs/show_bug.cgi?id=277947#c10

  13. Ian Skerrett says:

    RE: Nicknames vs acronym, I don’t think one is better than another; BIRT and EMF are pretty well known projects.

    Projects are responsible for naming. You will need to convince the RCP committers to change the name.

  14. Guillaume says:

    I really agree with your remark. Eclipse RCP sounds like a development product code, not like a mature product name.

    Eclipse is a product, Equinox is a well identified product as well. I think that a good name could represent a product line that is consistent with the existing ones.

    The first ideas I think about are Helios or Selene. To me, it is cohesive with the names of the products they are related to, and they sound a little poetic, don’t they ?

    NB: EMF or BIRT are horrible names also!

  15. Patrick says:

    Hi Guillaume,

    Glad you agree. Hopefully we can make this happen.

    As for the names, it looks like Helios is going to the be used for the entire release train in 2010. Selene is indeed poetic, and I’ll add it to the list. The only negative to it is that it doesn’t say anything about the product (modularity, framework, etc.), but that doesn’t have be a requirement.

    — Patrick

  16. Manjunatha says:

    Some simple commonly known word is always goes very well in the market, like sun, moon, windows, builder, bus,face. because you know in this software development world there are many foreign people are there and for them simple worlds make easy to remember and broadcast in their circle.

  17. Manjunatha says:

    These are some of the good things makes new framework more popular:

    1) Do not make your framework dependency on Eclipse IDE, provide a steps to develop using any text editor and deploy and execute without using your IDE. That gives us full control and understanding of your framework and it makes popular. As like any other spring, hibernate, AJAX, SWING, JSP.

    Now we feel many times whether we need your IDE to run our developed application also? like many mis understandings and it is hard to migrate existing application to new one because of setting binding old resources and old application files.

  18. Patrick says:

    Hi Manjunatha,

    Thanks for the comments. If you think of a name that would work well, feel free to comment on the Bugzilla entry linked to above, or just email it to me and I’ll add it to the list.

    — Patrick

  19. […] Eclipse RCP – Update It’s been two months since my post requesting that we rename Eclipse RCP, and I thought it was time to provide a progress update. The response has been overwhelmingly […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: