A Comparative Look at Eclipse RCP and Netbeans Platform

by Scott Delap on Sep 14, 2006 |
Eclipse RCP has been in the news lately due to increased adoption numbers and the growing use of OSGi. The RCP framework provides a jumpstart to developers looking at writing modular rich client applications. Many developers are unaware that the Netbeans IDE also includes a framework to develop such applications called Netbeans Platform. Netbeans evangelist Geertjan has published an interview on his blog of Kai Tödter, a Principal Engineer at Siemens Corporate Technology, on his experiences comparing Netbeans Platform to Eclipse RCP. 

Todter started the comparison with extensive experience using Eclipse RCP. He also considered other projects such as the Spring Rich Client Project both starting his look at Netbeans. In terms of the development experience he found Eclipse RCP easier to use. Changes made to the source are quickly reflected in the applications. Netbeans on the other hand ran numerous ANT scripts taking up to 45 seconds per change/test cycle. Todter did like the Netbeans resource and node management APIs noting that they could easily be used in domain specific applications. Branding support (splash screens, etc) in Netbeans was easier than in Eclipse RCP but more basic in terms of options. He also praised the professional looking appearance of the Netbeans docking system.  Todter also commented that he felt that the application lifecycle support in Netbeans Platform could be improved in comparison to Eclipse RCP.

In respect to choosing Netbeans Platform or Eclipse RCP:

...if there is already an existing monolithic RCP application that you want to port to a platform, to get rid of all the underlying mechanisms that a platform provides out of the box, if the application is built on Swing components it would be a pretty big effort to port them to SWT. In contrast, porting such an application to the NetBeans Platform, would make it easier to reuse UI components. If the requirement is that the application is to be built in Swing, then the NetBeans Platform makes the most sense...

If there is no such requirement about which UI toolkit to use, there might be a requirement that the application should look & feel as native as possible. SWT based Eclipse RCP would then be a very good choice, although the native look of Swing is constantly improving...

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Re: Summary by Scott Delap

Geertjan Wielenga, who posted the original interview on his blog, has written a follow up post disagreeing with my summary.

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