PrototypeRCPClient

Erland Isaksson edited this page Dec 31, 2015 · 1 revision

Yggdrasil

Please note that the RCP Client prototype is no longer maintained, we have moved it our of the prototype structure into a regular module called Yggdrasil.

Introduction

A first RCP client is available in the prototype directory, the source can be found here:

Brief instructions on what you need to do to get it running is available in the Readme-file:

Latest pre-compiled nightly builds of RCP Client can be found here:

"Roadmap"

This section provides a very rough overview of things to do. For details, please refer to the shared "todo list".

Here are a few words on what I think needs to be done to bring this thing out of the prototype folder and let us start widening scope and honing details:

  1. (done: Move out of prototype folder, rename to Yggdrasil.)
  2. (done: Restructured plug-ins (as outlined in below))
  3. A bootstrap to deploy the basic client (e.g. JWS)
  4. An update site where we can upload new versions of the plug-ins
  5. (done: Create extension points to allow more editors)

Effective time, this would all take a couple of weeks or so. Working odd hours around midnight ... I'm not so sure :-(

Design Guidelines

Some brief and preliminary thoughts on the design principles for the RCP client. Comments expected and welcome!

  • JFace
    • JFace offers a convenience layer on top of SWT, making it much easier to work with. Application code should rarely touch an SWT component directly.
    • JFace data binding is perhaps the most important discriminator to separate a rich client from a thin. We bind widgets to properties using data binding, and we use observable label providers in grids.
    • Set rather than List or Collection. Design rationale: to ensure proper data binding and stable collections, we need a distinct collection type. By definition (?) a relational DB returns unique instances in undefined order. All grids sort rows on user request, and a Set is easier to diff/merge in general. All in all, Sets fit the bill better than Lists, and hence all core signatures accept and return Sets unless there is a specific reason.
  • Menus, Actions and Commands
    • Menu items (both main and popup) are primarily declared thru extension points, not attached directly to viewers. This makes common commands universally available; whenever and wherever an Artist is selected, a menu with all applicable Artist commands is available.
    • Actions vs. Commands - Commands are "new school" and more powerful, Actions are "old school" and less powerful. However, the command framework is pretty abstract and - to most people - confusing. We should use Commands to define "global" actions that we bind to keyboard shortcuts, but we use regular Actions and Runnables where a Command isn't required.
  • Nebula - if we want to stay RAP-compatible, we can probably not use any Nebula components. In time, we may offer alternative implementations (RCP vs RAP). If we ignore RAP compliance, these Nebula components would be of particular interest:
    • Grid - the Nebula grid offers most of the features that the standard Eclipse Tables and Trees lack. All lists, trees and tables could be replaced by the grid.
    • PShelf - could replace ExpandBar as the primary navigation widget.
  • UI Style and "Skins"
    • Now (Eclipse 3.x): we run with the default appearance produced by the Forms Toolkit.
    • Then (Eclipse 4): we use the new (CSS-oriented) way of styling the application. It is too much work to do that using the current platform.
  • Target platform - a pre-configured RCP target platform is downloaded and provided by Maven. This includes the RCP base framework and all desired plug-ins to avoid the dependency on individual installations.
  • Plug-in Component structure - we separate the client in a few main parts. The basic idea is to have a small base product that is easily installed and rarely updated, and to use an update site to maintain the other components.
    • Installer - an almost empty "bootstrap" to allow installation/update of other components from update site
    • Product - splash screens, license, intro pages, etc
    • Foundation - fundamental UI components; custom widgets, utils, common abstractions, ...
    • Server Connection (Data Source) - abstracts the server facade and produces UI-friendly objects (lazily loaded, observable, named ...)
    • UI plugins:
      • Navigator UI - A PShelf presentation of "shallow" objects, with the ability to "inflate" any object and open an editor on it
      • Core model editors - EditorPart subclasses that operate on SMDEntity instances from the core model
      • Subjective model editors - EditorPart subclasses that operate on SMD instances from the subjective model
  • i18N
    • At the time of writing, the prototype is not localizable. We should of course change this at some point in time, using the built-in Eclipse/Java mechanisms to do so.
    • character set is UTF-8. All projects should have this setting defined, to avoid dependencies and failures due to bad workspace settings.

Developer Notes

A few notes that may or may not be useful for RCP developers.

"FAQ"

  • Launcher doesn't launch
    • Q: Sometime the launcher just won't launch stuff from within the IDE, even though everything seems to be in order.
    • A: delete the launcher form the "Run Configurations" menu, and re-launch it by right-clicking the checked in launcher ("Run As - Eclipse Application")

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