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Eclipse Dives Into Ajax App Deployment

It's about to get a whole lot easier for web developers to develop Ajax rich internet applications. The Eclipse Foundation today is formally releasing its Eclipse Rich Ajax Platform (RAP) 1.0 application which brings the Eclipse plug in model to web developers.

"RAP is a runtime project and it’s the first Ajax middleware project that is being released at Eclipse," Jochen Krause, project leader of Eclipse RAP and CEO of Innoopract told InternetNews.com . "We enable web developers to develop applications that are based on components. It’s the same concept that has made Eclipse so powerful and it's now also available in runtime for web development."

The RAP project is what Krause defined as a subset of the Eclipse RCP (Rich Client Platform) project which enables cross platform desktop application deployment. RCP is the technology behind IBM's cross platform push for Lotus Notes and Sametime.

With RAP 1.0 there is a single sourcing of code with RCP meaning one code base can serve both desktop and web based applications. The single sourcing is also the root cause why 1.0 is coming out now, some three months after it had initially been expected to be released. The first RAP milestone came out in March of this year. Krause argued that community demand for single sourcing pushed the release out.

Code reuse is a key benefit of being part of Eclipse for RAP as developers don't need to start from scratch.

"With regards to functionality we can reuse existing code from Eclipse as an application framework so services for menus, toolbars and view handling can all be reused by us," Krause said.

With RCP it is the Eclipse Equinox runtime that closely ties it together with RAP. Equinox is the basic runtime environment and it provides the base infrastructure that both RCP and RAP run on.

RAP also co-exists and complements Eclipse's other Ajax effort, the Ajax Toolkit Framework (ATF). Krause noted that the ATF tools come in handy if a user wants to developer their own widget.

For Krause and his firm Innoopract, he is not looking to build commercial tools on top of RAP. The business model for Innoopract is by providing support and maintenance and is not based on extra code.

Just because Krause won't add additional code, doesn't mean that it can't be done.

"RAP can stand on its own but other vendors could build on top of it," Krause said. "A commercial ecosystem is possible and we will encourage others to do that."