Today I have officially starting looking into development for the Eclipse platform (that is: me writing eclipse code). We already have an Eclipse based IDE (called Vortex) underway but my instinct tells me this is where the focus of our real "visible" innovation will occur. Up to now we have built something no-one can actually see which really is quite terrible for demos! We can explain and espouse the greatness of this thing we call Puakma Tornado Server until we're blue in the face, but nothing works as well as a GUI based example. Understanding the capabilities of the Eclipse platform is integral to shaping the future of our products.
As my "training application" I am playing with an administration application. This will be very simple to begin with allowing the monitoring of one or more servers, viewing the logs and executing console commands.
All communications between the eclipse client and the server is SOAP over HTTP. This means the admins and developers will be able to monitor and interact with servers of standard HTTP ports and through firewalls. Small ISVs will be able to maintain their customer's servers and applications from anywhere. No more opening obscure ports on the firewall and needing console access to the server. If you need some security, just wrap it in SSL. Too easy!
We will still be supporting the browser-based admin and webdesign applications for those times where you don't have the Vortex IDE handy.
Summary: The learning curve for plugin development is steep. My head hurts.