The Eclipse RCP became a prominent platform for building client software. One of the delivery mechanisms supported by Eclipse RCP is Sun’s Java Web Start (JWS). Since Galileo Edition some changes has been introduced in the platform. This article provides some hints for creation of the RCP delivered by Java Web Start.


In order to package the RCP I suggest to use feature-based products as described in a previous article. Following it, you should have a top-level plug-in (also refered as product-defining plug-in) and top-level feature, which is called “wrap”-feature in the context of the Java Web Start.

Exporting the product

Before you start with Java Web Start (JWS), export the product and make sure it starts as a standalone application. In doing so, you have to ensure that your references to the plug-ins are correct. One of the way of doing it is to hit the Validate button in the top left of the product editor. If the validation is successful, try to export the product. The PDE builder will run and create a distribution. The errors of the compiler/builder/assembler, if any, are reported to files zipped to the file in the distribution directory. A prominent error is

Compliance level '1.3' is incompatible with source level '1.6'. A compliance level '1.6' or better is required.

Which actually means that the plug-in classes has not been compiled at all. In order to avoid this error make sure to set the following properties in the file of the corresponding plug-in:


Exporting the wrap-feature

After a successful export of the product, just export the top-level feature (the wrap-feature). Make sure to provide the signing information, since JWS requires all resources to be signed. If you are aiming to deliver for different platforms, make sure to define a target platform (Window > Preferences > Plug-in Development > Target Platform) which contains a Delta Pack. A Delta Pack is a set of plug-ins which can be downloaded separately on the Eclipse Homepage. Also, don’t forget to switch over to the Java Web Start tab of the Feature Export Wizard, activate the checkbox “Create JNLP manifest for the JAR archives” and specify the site URL where the resulting JNLP will be located. Make sure all your features has the provider attribute set, since it is used as the “vendor” inside of the JNLP file, which is a mandatory attribute.

Creating the main JNLP

The PDE build will run and create a distribution in the specified directory. Along with the exported JARs in features and plug-ins, the packaging script will generate the JNLP descriptors for every feature. Still, the main JNLP file required for launching the application is missing and has to be provided separately. Here is, how it looks like:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<jnlp spec="1.0+" codebase="http://localhost/app/" href="app.jnlp">
        <title>application titel</title>
    <application-desc main-class="org.eclipse.equinox.launcher.WebStartMain">
        <j2se version="1.4+" ax-heap-size="128m" />
	<jar href="plugins/org.eclipse.equinox.launcher_1.0.201.R35x_v20090715.jar"/>
	<extension name="wrap feature" href="features/wrap_feature_1.0.0.jnlp" />
	<!-- OSGI setup -->
        <property name="osgi.instance.area" value="@user.home/app"/>
        <property name="osgi.configuration.area" value="@user.home/app"/>

Important is to specify both, the product id and the applciation id, otherwise you will see the “Application id not found” exception. Of course you can specify additional options as command-line arguments of the launcher itself. I found it useful to be able to let the OSGi running and then connect to it and query for loaded bundles. You can do it by adding the following arguments:


This will allow to connect via telnet with running OSGi, even after the application finishes.
This is basically it.