Silverlight is a cross-platform browser plug-in that enables rich media experiences and .NET-based Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) within the browser. While Microsoft creates developer and designers tools, interoperability scenarios using other tools makes sense simply because in many situations there are development teams working in heterogeneous environments. Searching for ways to assist these teams is how Eclipse tools for Silverlight came to life!
The Eclipse tools for Silverlight project, aka eclipse4SL, is an eclipse plug-in that enables Eclipse developers to use the Eclipse IDE to create applications that run on the Microsoft Silverlight runtime platform. Announced in October of last year, the project is led by Soyatec, an IT solutions provider based in France & China, and also an Eclipse Foundation member (Yves Yang, Soyatec President). Microsoft provides funding and architectural guidance (in particular my colleagues Vijay Rajagopalan and Stève Sfartz).
Since the release of a new beta version in December, additional technical content for Java developers has been published on the project site, giving guidance on key interoperability scenario sought by developers: facilitate interoperability between Silverlight clients and REST and SOAP (JAX-WS/CXF) Java web services.
Even though the V1 of the project is not yet complete, Soyatec has done a great job of building the early pieces of this bridge between Eclipse and Silverlight. The interoperability scenarios this project enables are very interesting, as it provides more choices to Java/Eclipse developers and opens up new opportunities for Silverlight adoption.
So if you haven’t had a chance to see the Eclipse tools for Silverlight in action, take a look at this demo. It gives an overview of the developer experience of creating a basic Silverlight application in Eclipse, shows how collaborating with a designer could work, and finally you’ll see a sample Silverlight application talking to a Java web service, from the www.Youtube.com/interopbydesign channel:
If you want to try it for yourself it’s very easy, just follow the step-by-step installation guide on http://www.eclipse4sl.org/download/. The eclipse4SL plug-in can be installed directly from the internet with the Eclipse software update wizard (see screenshot below):
Then you can explore the Hello, world and DataGrid tutorials that my colleague Stève Sfartz has prepared for you. Also you might want to check this tutorial that has just been posted on Devx: Getting Started with Silverlight for Eclipse.
I don’t write a lot of code these days, but from a developer point of view I think it is cool to deliver interoperability at this level, and to extend the Silverlight development experience to Eclipse developers. For a nascent project, the eclipse4SL has been well received by the community and is currently in the top 10 “Top Rated” on www.eclipseplugincentral.com (a portal that helps developers find Eclipse plug-ins):
(Screenshot taken on 02/03/2009)
Of course, if you have feedback, feel free to join the conversation.
Jean-Christophe Cimetiere – Sr. Technical Evangelist