Adobe's Apollo: an alpha announced (and ISO fast-track)

3... 2... 1... liftoff of Tuesday's IT Blogwatch: in which Adobe reveals its "Apollo" framework for rich Intenet applications. Not to mention Linus and RMS discussing Microsoft's Office Open XML standardization "process"...

Heather Havenstein has the scoop:

Adobe Systems Inc. today released the first public alpha version of its cross-operating system application runtime designed to allow developers to build rich Internet applications for the desktop. Code-named Apollo, the runtime focuses on allowing Web developers to use their existing skills in HTML, JavaScript and AJAX to create desktop versions of rich Internet applications.


The first version of Apollo for developers includes a free software developer's kit with a set of command-line tools for developing and working with Apollo applications. Web developers can use any Integrated Development Environment to build Apollo applications. A beta version of Apollo is expected by midyear, with the final version due out before the end of the year.

Rafe Needleman makes this point: [You're fired -Ed.]

Apollo is the new framework that allows developers to build rich applications that run without a browser, yet still take advantage of the Adobe Flash expertise that they've been using for the past few years to create cool Web-based apps. Like many other industry watchers, I've written very enthusiastic stories about Apollo. I believe it is going to be one of the key technologies in the development of hybrid applications--apps that put a rich interface on the desktop with most of the heavy lifting taking place on a Web server. Apollo is going to help Web 2.0 services escape from the confines and constraints of a Web browser. And that's great.

You can try some sample Apollo apps now, but don't expect to be terribly impressed. If you're not a developer, few are worth bothering with. Most do a good job of showing off some raw capabilities but aren't what anyone would consider must-have tools.

John Murrell adds:

Adobe has moved its Apollo project to the launching pad; now it's asking Web developers to build the payload ... If you're not a developer, you can safely file this under Things To Keep An Eye On for now.

Michael Arrington is infatuated:

I honestly believe that entirely new classes of companies can be built on this platform, which takes Flash, HTML and javascript completely outside of the browser and interacts with the file system on a PC. Photos, music, email and many other everyday tasks make a lot of sense in a single environment that is both local and in the cloud simultaneously. There is going to be a lot of creativity coming off of this platform over the near term.

Michael Gartenberg reminds us why we should care:

One of the biggest issues with web based apps is they just don't work at all in a disconnected state. By creating an environment that allows those apps to function offline and seamlessly re-connect, Adobe hopes to bridge the gap between the online and offline worlds ... It lets you build desktop centric and cross platform versions of Flash or AJAX applications. This is really the notion of write once, run anywhere that's eluded a lot of other stuff in the past.


What makes it more important is that the effort is not limited to a single OS or platform but will work across multiple operating systems. The initial version will work with both Mac OS and Windows and will later support Linux as well. The core environment leverages standards such as HTML and Javascript. Of course, Adobe is not alone here. This effort competes to some extent with Microsoft's Windows Presentation Foundation and Windows Presentation Foundation/Anywhere. Microsoft hopes WPF will become an alternative to Flash and hopes to leverage this functionality on to other devices and platforms, recognizing that there's more to the world these days than Windows but at the same time leveraging Windows look and feel and development tools.

Here's Ex-Microsoftie Robert Scoble:

Microsoft is ahead in workflow and 3D, but Adobe is ahead in ubiquity and cross-platform. Lots of developers like using Macs now, and Microsoft only makes WPF tools for Windows. Also, there’s WPF/E (for “everywhere”) but it is a small subset of WPF, so developers might find that to be frustrating and limiting and decide to go with Apollo.

Scott Gilbertson contributes this:

The road to cross-operating system, online/offline apps is littered with failed attempts. However, despite my initial skepticism, I think Apollo looks great.

Imagine for instance the entire online component of Flickr’s organizational and editing tools wrapped in a desktop app. You can use it offline to organize your photos. Then, when you connect to the internet, the desktop app updates your data. In Flickr’s case, there is already a cottage industry of apps that can do this sort of thing, but functionality and user experience varies widely. Using Apollo, it would be relatively easy for Flickr developers to simply repackage their online tools as an integrated on/offline application.


If you’re a web app developer wanting to see what Apollo can do for your applications, has has a series of instructional videos narrated by Adobe’s Mike Chambers available for download that walk you through creating and deploying a simple Apollo application in Flex.

David A. Utter was heard to utter:

EBay has been working with Apollo ahead of the formal public announcement. The online marketplace has been building an application to extend notifications to the desktop. When offline, eBay users will be able to create listing with the app, and have them automatically upload to eBay on reconnection.

Fortune's Oliver Ryan opines:

If Apollo catches on, it could be a big win for Adobe, becoming the basis of a whole new generation of applications for personal computers (and drive ever greater demand for Adobe tools, including Flash.) ... It’s yet another sign that the Internet is loosening Microsoft’s (MSFT) lock on software development ... In early trading, Adobe is up 2%.

Buffer overflow:

Around the Net Around Computerworld Previously in IT Blogwatch

And finally... Orifice Open

Richi Jennings is an independent technology and marketing consultant, specializing in email, blogging, Linux, and computer security. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. Contact Richi at

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