It is always great when the Eclipse community works hard on communicating a new and novel idea and then runs into someone who really understands it. James Governor‘s blog post today on RCP is a great example of that.
James is focused on the potential for RCP to dramatically change the playing field for rich client applications. We are starting to see lots of examples of applications popping up all over. And developers are comparing Eclipse RCP against some alternatives that we hadn’t even thought of, such as XUL. (Note that this is not in any way meant as a slight on XUL. I just find it fascinating that a development team even considered them competitive technologies.)
So where is this going?
Amongst other interesting possibilities, Eclipse RCP has the potential to be the best friend the Linux desktop has ever had. For Linux to really take off on the desktop, it must dramatically increase its share with both ISVs and enterprise developers.
ISVs need RCP because it allows them to build native applications which run on Linux and Windows. No ISV that cares about either expense or quality is going to maintain completely different code streams for products on both Linux and Windows. RCP offers them a great technology for building truly native applications which run on multiple platforms.
Enterprise developers face a similar issue. It will take a long time for large enterprises to roll out Linux desktops in their organizations. Co-existence with the incumbent (usually Windows) for their applications must be a key part of any strategy to migrate to desktop Linux. Not only does RCP provide IT managers the ability to build and deploy multi-platform native apps, but it allows them to manage those deployed applications.
The resurgence of Apple as a client platform that really matters makes this even more interesting, as ISVs in particular would like to ideally target all three of these platforms. Which makes the RCP story better still.
But the best part of the Eclipse RCP is that it is here now and it is very real. No waiting on Longhorn or Mustang required. The new Eclipse 3.1 is bringing better tooling support and loads of new features in just a few weeks.