Sunday, February 22, 2009

First look at e4

I finally had some time to take a look at the first e4 Milestone. Download and install from here. New and Noteworthy here.

My main interest is in the declarative UI and CSS components. So I spun up the photo demo per Boris' instructions. It works and looks about what I would expect for the first milestone. I found the CSS file and tweaked it a bit, restarted, and saw my changes take effect. That was cool. Some thoughts on CSS in Eclipse:

  • Styling RCP apps can be left up to a designer. I wonder what the collaboration challenges will be like.
  • What does this mean for native widgets? Will people go hog wild and make their application so customized that it doesn't look like it fits in anymore? Ditto for plugins. I see a need for a whole host of new UI standards..
  • I wonder how well you can hot replace your CSS tweaks.
  • I haven't looked at Tk-UI (the CSS engine) much yet, but I wonder to what extent they support the CSS spec, and how much of that translates meaningfully into SWT constructs. First thing I'd be looking for is a mapping document.

Quick spin through the photo demo is complete. Lets look under the covers at the app itself. First class I look at is ExitHandler. Except, its not a handler. Or at least it doesn't extend AbstractHandler.. what's going on here? I can only guess: dependency injection. This will take some getting used to.

I also see an .xmi file. Quickly I can scan through it and see the structure of the entire user interface. I'm comparing this to the umpteen times I've had to follow that "parent" instance variable up the tree, to figure out where the heck a particular Composite lives, and what the structure is.

I can see already that I'm going to need Ctrl+Click to go from the .xmi file to the relevant classes. (Maybe I just need the appropriate EMF editor)

I have to wonder what newproject.js is. I can only think it is related to writing plug-ins in other languages. I see mention of Rhino as the toolkit. Perhaps the BIRT team can lend some expertise in this area.

I hope to get to the Resource model changes next time.

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