Renaming Eclipse RCP – Update

July 22, 2009

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 positive. Check out the comments on the original post as well as the discussion associated with the Bugzilla entry, and you’ll see what I mean.

So where are we right now?

First, there is a consensus that the renaming should apply only to the new version based on e4. Past versions and also future 3.x releases will continue to be referred to as Eclipse RCP.

It has also been expressed that the name should be chosen as quickly as possible so that it can be used for early milestone releases. I would prefer to see a name selected in the next month or two.

What next?

Do you have ideas for a name? An initial set of names has been captured on a wiki page, but it would be great if we had some more ideas. I know it’s the middle of summer, but that can bring out the creativity in some people! When you’re lying on the beach, why not spend a few minutes thinking about this. Who knows what you might come up with!

I’m particularly interested in names that reflect the fact that RCP brings modularity to the user interface. If you think of anything, you can either add it to the wiki directly, comment on the Bugzilla entry, or comment on this post. I’ll make sure that all suggestions make it into the final list.

In a few weeks, I’ll put together an online poll that will hopefully result in a short list of names (please do not tell Stephen Colbert). I’m sure other factors will be considered as well (trademarks, etc), but the poll will be an important part of the final selection.

I can’t wait to see what we come up with!


Announcement: OSGi online training now available

April 27, 2009

After only 10 years it seems that OSGi’s time has finally arrived. Everywhere you look, new OSGi-based products are being announced. Of course the Eclipse platform has been based on OSGi for some time and the SpringSource DM Server has been available for a while. But now ServiceMix 4 is taking OSGi into the ESB space and JBoss OSGi has just gone into beta. It’s great that so many more Java developers are going to be able to benefit from OSGi and modular software development.

To support developers getting started with OSGi, I’m happy to announce a new training course called OSGi Quickstart. This is a 2-day course that focuses on what you really need to know to get started with this technology . Instead of taking a grand tour of the OSGi specification, the course attempts to answer the following questions:

  • What is OSGi and why is it important?
  • How do I set up tooling to develop, test and build OSGi applications?
  • How do I migrate existing applications to OSGi?
  • What best practices should I be following for OSGi development?

The goal of this course is to give developers, architects and project managers the knowledge they need to be immediately productive with OSGi.

OSGi Quickstart will be offered publicly online. The first course is scheduled for June 11th-12th, and registration is now open. And as usual private courses are available onsite or online.

Thoughts on Eclipse RCP Training

April 5, 2009

At EclipseCon I had the opportunity to sit down with Wayne Beaton and record a podcast on Eclipse RCP training. It’s really not a sales pitch kind of thing, more of a discussion of the challenges faced by developers new to RCP.

But after we finished recording, it occurred to me that I’ve never really expressed what I feel the value of Eclipse RCP training is. It’s common for developers to approach me and say “I know I need RCP training, but how do I justify this to my manager?” Well for those of you in this situation, here is what I would say.

Time is money

The first argument is a purely financial one. It’s just a fact that acquiring knowledge takes time and effort. If you spend days or weeks at your desk assembling information on RCP from websites, articles and books, then your salary during this time is the cost of knowledge. The question is, how does this approach compare with learning from an instructor?

According to many of my students, learning RCP in a classroom is much more effective. There are a variety of reasons for this, which I’ll get to in a minute. But it seems to be true for most people that training significantly shortens the RCP learning curve. I’ve taught many classes over the past few years, and based on student feedback I’d say that RCP training often pays for itself in weeks, not months.

RCP is hard to learn

One of the main reasons RCP training is so effective is that the subject area is complicated. Unlike other technologies, RCP is not standards-based, so there is no canonical spec you can go to for answers. To be honest, RCP is less a coherent framework than an aggregation of related technologies (SWT, JFace, OSGi, Eclipse Platform).

The problem for someone learning RCP is where to start and how to acquire knowledge in a coherent and orderly way. What RCP training does (if it’s done well) is to cut through the noise and present a clear vision of what RCP is and how to use it.

Getting a team up to speed

Oftentimes RCP is introduced to a team by a self-taught lead developer who evangelizes the technology. When the decision is made to use RCP, the lead developer is often called upon to share his knowledge with the rest of the team.

The problem is that most developers are not (and do not want to be) teachers. Creating carefully designed presentations and labs is difficult. Communicating the information clearly to students with a variety of backgrounds and learning styles is even more difficult.

The real magic to being a good teacher is to remember what it was like to not know something. This might sound like a zen koan, but it’s really just another way of describing empathy. If you find a good trainer, I think you’ll be impressed by what this magic can accomplish.

Why can’t I just read a book?

This is a really good question. It’s obviously true that some people can learn RCP by reading books. That’s how I learned. But a better question is could you learn more effectively through a training course?

I’d argue that a training courses is more effective than books for a number of reason. First, students have a variety of learning styles. Some learn by hearing, some by seeing, some by doing, most from a combination of all of these. Only a training course can communicate information in all of these ways. Second, a multi-day training course appears to function something like immersion-learning for a foreign language. While people usually read books a bit at a time, there is a distinct advantage to focusing all or your mental energy on a subject for 3-4 days straight.

Speaking empirically, I’ve had more than a few students tell me that they’ve read books but that things didn’t click until they took the course. Whatever this click is, it appears to be what students need to get started working productively with RCP.

Real World RCP at EclipseCon

March 10, 2009

In my opinion, one of the best ways to learn about a technology is to listen to people talk about their own projects. Developers who have been in the trenches and worked through the nitty-gritty day-to-day issues have so much to teach us and can save us a lot of time and effort.

If you agree, I hope you’ll consider attending the Real World RCP session at this year’s EclipseCon. If you do attend, you’ll hear 4 developers talk about some extremely interesting RCP usage scenarios, including earthquake damage simulation and nuclear plant testing. You’ll also hear about how RCP can be combined with a variety of other technologies, including CNF, EMF, and GEF to solve real-world problems.

So stop by Wednesday morning! If you’re currently working with RCP or evaluating it for a future project, I think this session will be worth your time.

What a month!

December 11, 2008

I haven’t been posting much as I’ve been buried with work lately. Considering the state of the economy, I guess I should feel lucky! I hope to get back to posting more now that things have calmed down.

Also, I wanted to apologize to anyone who was hoping to attend my Eclipse World presentations in October. My daughter, who goes to college in Manhattan, needed to have an emergency appendectomy. I flew up to New York for the surgery and needed to cancel the presentations. Her surgery went well and she’s fine now. Hopefully there will be opportunities in the future to present the Eclipse World material.


November 1, 2007

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by TMA – Too Many Acronyms 🙂 ? Sometimes as a software developer I feel like my job is to figure out William Steig puzzles, except that his make sense!

So to translate the title, there is a new Eclipse project proposal – the Open Financial Market Platform (additional info here). This project is meant to create an OSGi/RCP-based client-server platform for financial applications, allowing users to extend it in areas that capitalize on their core competencies.

And with Eclipse World coming up next week, I’m wondering if there are others intrigued by OFMP who would like to get together at the conference for an informal Birds of a Feather (BoF) to discuss how we might like to contribute to or utilize this platform.

If you’re interested, just send me an email with times that work or don’t work for you. If there’s enough interest, I’ll send out an announcement with a time and location.