RCP – Rich Client Platform

Thats the new kid on the block… RCP is a framework that allows developers to quickly assemble rich client components like menus, toolbars, drag/drop functionality, etc into a client application. Currently the most popular RCP platforms are Eclipse and Netbeans.

Basically the IDEs allow developers to build application much like the same way in the old VB4/VB6 days. They still lose to VS.Net when it comes to ease of development. However, consider that a step forward for the Java community.

The idea sounds good as a big picture, but it’s going to be a big headache for those implementing it. These real developers are stepping into the same (dung) as Microsoft programmers. For one, performing tasks are not so straightforward. To get a button on the screen to display a tab becomes a wild-goose chase in the API for which is the correct function to call. More spaghetti code. Second, debugging becomes just like Microsoft: developers don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes and those chain of method calls. Only one in a thousand will have the curiousity (and TIME) to really figure out how things run behind. That leaves the other 999 using trial and error to fix bugs, ugly workarounds as long it works… pastamania code.

Rich clients are not to be confused with thin/thick clients. Before 2003 [1], rich clients meant a thick or fat client. But now a client may be thin AND rich at the same time — having the interactive features of a rich client, yet processing and business logic are handled in a remote server.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rich_client

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