The world of Java offers so many options that my beginner-brain is overwhelmed. I'm hoping to get some advice from developers more experienced than I. I'm trying to build a rich-client application (my first) that will track information about pets in a veterinary clinic setting. The app will be connected to a database (initially, Apache Derby; later, SQL Server), and will be multi-user (maybe, 5-10 users at a time).
I'd like to get started in a constructive direction so as not to waste too much time. Thus, I'm hoping for some recommedations in a couple of areas. I'm looking for tools that make it as easy as possible to develop a reasonable app and gui, while still allowing me to customize in a few areas if need be. And, hopfully, something that will not be outdated and unsupported too quickly. I will likely want to extend the application in the future, or modify it for use in other clinics, so the code needs to be reusable and modifyable.
1) What would be a good framework to use to support development of the app? So far, I've only heard of Spring-RCP project and Netbeans App Framework.
2) Is it better for me to use Swing or SWT/JFace? Or something else? Swing seems to lack much support for data-binding and validation (or am I not understanding?)
3) Is JPA ORM the right way to go? Or, just use straight SQL commands?
4) Does it matter whether I use Netbeans or Eclipse IDE?