Workbench Structure

The UIWorks workbench is an empty GUI shell to which plugins contribute UI elements. The types of contributions that plugins may contribute include:

  • Menus
  • Toolbar buttons
  • Views
  • Pages and Perspectives (collections of Views)
  • Wizards

When you open your workbench it looks something like this.

The workbench is just a frame that can present various visual parts.

The workbench provides an extensive set of classes and interfaces for building complex user interfaces. Fortunately, you don't need to understand all of them to do something simple. We'll start by looking at some concepts that are exposed in the workbench user interface and their corresponding structure under the covers.


We've been using the term workbench loosely to refer to "that window that opens when you start the platform." Let's drill down a little and look at some of the visual components that make up the workbench.

For the rest of this discussion, when we use the term workbench, we will be referring to the workbench window (IWorkbenchWindow). The workbench window is the top-level window in a workbench. It is the frame that holds the menu bar, tool bar, status line, and pages. In general, you don't need to program to the workbench window. You just want to know that it's there.

Note: You can open multiple workbench windows; however each workbench window is a self-contained world of pages and views, so we'll just focus on a single workbench window.

From the user's point of view, a workbench contains views. There are a few other classes used to implement the workbench window.


Inside the workbench window, you'll find one page (IWorkbenchPage) that in turn contains parts. Pages are an implementation mechanism for grouping parts. You typically don't need to program to the page, but you'll see it in the context of programming and debugging.


A Perspective is used to layout a workbench Page. Perspectives control what views are contained in a page and how the views are layed out on the page. You typically don't need to program to the page, but you'll see it in the context of programming and debugging.


Views are where we move beyond implementation details into some common plug-in programming. You will be building your view according to a common lifecycle.

  • You implement a createPartControl method to create the Swing widgets that represent your visual component. You must determine which widgets to use and create any related UI elements needed to display your view.
  • When your view is given focus, the JComponent.requestDefaultFocus will be called on the component that is returned from the createPartControl method so that you can set the focus to the correct widget.

Throughout this lifecycle, events will fire from the containing workbench page to notify interested parties about the opening, activation, deactivation, and closing of views.

Seem simple? It can be. That's the beauty of workbench views. They're just widget holders, and can be as simple or complex as you need them to be.