Eclipse v. NetBeans for rich client platforms

by Rick Jelliffe

Five years ago I looked at Eclipse and NetBeans as rich client platforms (RCPs) and thought both were crap for the purpose. Slow, ugly, immature, incomplete and bringing little but complexity to the table. I looked at both of them again anew last week.

The executive summary: both now look wonderful for Rich Client Platforms, you would need some pretty strong particular reasons to build your own framework now; Eclipse has the edge if your market is Java developers who probably have Eclipse already and your application can be made a suite-enhancing plug-in; Eclipse also has the edge if you want to provide a plug-in and a standalone version; NetBeans has the edge if you need Swing or all the OpenSorce libraries which use Swing—the wonderful SwiXML (which lets you specify Swing interfaces in XML, and uses reflection and the JavaBeans conventions to be very small and very fast) and the Substance look and feel library (whose Flamingo sub-project Topologi has contributed our BreacrumbBar control to) being high on my list.


Dan Sickles
2006-05-09 07:22:05
IBMs AJAX Toolkit Framework embeds gscko in Eclipse using xulrunner/javaxpcom.

2006-05-09 08:35:46
I'd like to see some effort in building an Office Suite into the RCPs of either Eclipse or Netbeans. Why couldn't the existing editors be enhanced to act as a WYSIWYG word processor? This would be an office suite that would actually be portable and could be extended by enterprise developers in ways that MS Office can not.
Rick Jelliffe
2006-05-09 21:21:36
Another aspect of this is that Office is in the process of abandoning menu-based user interfaces in favour of their Command Bar (Ribbon) GUI. Flamingo (Swing, in Substance) mentioned above has this kind of control, but there is no equivalent in Eclipse that I know. Indeed, the API of NetBeans and JSR 198 seems to be really based on having a menu bar and a button bar...I am not sure if Eclipse builds this in the same way.

But I don't know why anyone would start a new application without seriously considering having a Command Bar (Ribbon) interface. I made a prototype for Topologi Markup Editor and it really helped things. This is my big caveat for RPCs at the moment: they give you so much but they seem to lock you into a GUI that was state-of-the-art for 2001 not for 2006.

Jens E
2006-05-10 07:21:03
As far as the plugin market goes, MyEclipse just integrated Sun's Matisse into their platform. Matisse4MyEclipse is available in M1 now for free trial. This greatly improves the RCP functionality within the Eclipse/MyEclipse environment.
Matisse4MyEclipse Swing UI designer.
Rick Jelliffe
2006-05-12 01:22:55
Swing developers feel the pinch too: see Evan Summer's impassioned rave. On the other hand, I think Evan's framework has to compete both against XML-transforming systems and against the other frameworks which have suite power.