Monday, August 1, 2011

From XML to Form to Diagram with Sapphire

Many of the systems that developers and administrators interact with on the daily basis are configured via a menagerie of XML files. Even armed with a schema and a good XML editor, users have a hard time editing these files by hand. A good tooling strategy to address this difficulty is to create a multi-page editor where a user can flip back-n-forth between XML source view and a higher level form-based view. Going a notch further, certain relationships can be presented with one or more diagrams on separate pages.

Unfortunately, building such multi-page editor using basic Eclipse platform facilities is a daunting challenge. It can take many months to create something half-decent for even smaller schemas. Sapphire can make this a much less daunting task by focusing developer attention on modeling semantics of the data rather than wiring individual widgets.


I have proposed a talk for EclipseCon Europe 2011 to present Sapphire as a whole and the new diagram editing features in Sapphire 0.3 (Indigo) release. You can comment and vote on the proposal if you are interested.

Proposed Talk: From XML to Form to Diagram with Sapphire

Sapphire is a relatively new project at Eclipse started with an initial contribution from Oracle. It is a UI building framework that allows developers to specify UI in terms of higher level constructs like property editors instead of widgets and layouts. This paradigm results in several orders of magnitude improvement in developer productivity while simultaneously delivering better quality UI that is easier to maintain.

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