Adobe ships Apollo public alpha

Ahh, nothing like the sound of shipping software on a Sunday evening. Adobe just turned on its servers to get the Apollo alpha software (Ryan Stewart has the scoop). For developers only. And even then I’d only go toward this stuff if you’re an early adopter who needs to be up to date on the latest stuff.

What will it let you do? Build Flash-centric apps that run on your desktop. One of the downsides of Web sites is that they cease to work if you aren’t connected to the Internet. Anyone who has tried to use Google Calendar inside an airplane can relate to that experience.

Lots of new apps ahead. Ryan Stewart has the best blog about the new Rich Internet Application space, which is what Apollo will let developers build apps for. Competes with Microsoft’s WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation).

First read? 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.

What do you think? If you’re a developer are you looking to build these kinds of connected desktop apps? If you are, what platform are you going to choose?

As with anything hot in tech, I’m putting the best posts on my link blog (another great Kathy Sierra post is on there now too).

Comments

  1. “What will it let you do? Build Flash-centric apps that run on your desktop.”

    It’s actually Flash or Ajax, or both, with eventual PDF functions. More than just “run on a desktop”, the emphasis is on cross-OS development, cross-OS delivery, and easy, efficient distribution.

    (For 3D, check into Shockwave and Reader, already massively deployed.)

    jd/adobe

  2. “What will it let you do? Build Flash-centric apps that run on your desktop.”

    It’s actually Flash or Ajax, or both, with eventual PDF functions. More than just “run on a desktop”, the emphasis is on cross-OS development, cross-OS delivery, and easy, efficient distribution.

    (For 3D, check into Shockwave and Reader, already massively deployed.)

    jd/adobe

  3. Just when I was about to give up on Flash, Adobe *has* to come out with this. All I can say is my jaw hit the floor after watching the eBay demo of it; I have been waiting for a technology like this to come out for years now.

    Thank you Adobe, thank you. I guess I will start brushing up on ActionScript again for the first time in 6 months.

  4. Just when I was about to give up on Flash, Adobe *has* to come out with this. All I can say is my jaw hit the floor after watching the eBay demo of it; I have been waiting for a technology like this to come out for years now.

    Thank you Adobe, thank you. I guess I will start brushing up on ActionScript again for the first time in 6 months.

  5. [...] Adobe bringt mit Apollo ein – uh, was eigentlich genau? Framework? – auf den Markt, das ganz interessant aussieht. Vielleicht sollte ich es mir heute abend mal anschauen. [via Scoble] [...]

  6. “What do you think? If you’re a developer are you looking to build these kinds of connected desktop apps? If you are, what platform are you going to choose?”

    Don’t call them desktop apps, or it will be confusing very fast. The whole point is that it has to work on any OS. By that definition alone, Microsoft WPF/E is already out. The whole point of Microsoft is, as always, to use WPF/E as a Trojan horse to lock-in as much people as they can with Windows. Unfortunately for them, Microsoft has lost his prestige. Find people other than the usual suspects to say nice things about this stuff. If you look around the blogosphere, it seems that only Microsoft people are talking about it. Kind of a problem…

    To me a real blog about RIA has got to point out real world cases (i.e. interview with people doing stuff with it that ships), and plain code review. None of those two apply to Ryan Stewart’s blog.

    And some other blog include JD’s blog, which is certainly biased since he’s from MACR.

  7. “What do you think? If you’re a developer are you looking to build these kinds of connected desktop apps? If you are, what platform are you going to choose?”

    Don’t call them desktop apps, or it will be confusing very fast. The whole point is that it has to work on any OS. By that definition alone, Microsoft WPF/E is already out. The whole point of Microsoft is, as always, to use WPF/E as a Trojan horse to lock-in as much people as they can with Windows. Unfortunately for them, Microsoft has lost his prestige. Find people other than the usual suspects to say nice things about this stuff. If you look around the blogosphere, it seems that only Microsoft people are talking about it. Kind of a problem…

    To me a real blog about RIA has got to point out real world cases (i.e. interview with people doing stuff with it that ships), and plain code review. None of those two apply to Ryan Stewart’s blog.

    And some other blog include JD’s blog, which is certainly biased since he’s from MACR.

  8. I am developing in flash for many years and this functionality was something that I constatntly tried to implement by any available means. I used flash cookies to store info when offline, I used delphi envelope to make my flash games run on desktop as native apps. So when Macromedia announced Central (previous Macromedia’s try, before Apollo) I was VERY excited. And I allready preparing to transform most of my games into Apollo.
    I think Microsoft will lose here, too. There is no “presentation developers” for microsoft platform, while there is giant army of “flashers” and web prorgammers (who hates IE). So all of them will choose Adobe. It’s great opportunity to extend their ability into desktop develpment. I think Apollo will be huge success.

  9. I am developing in flash for many years and this functionality was something that I constatntly tried to implement by any available means. I used flash cookies to store info when offline, I used delphi envelope to make my flash games run on desktop as native apps. So when Macromedia announced Central (previous Macromedia’s try, before Apollo) I was VERY excited. And I allready preparing to transform most of my games into Apollo.
    I think Microsoft will lose here, too. There is no “presentation developers” for microsoft platform, while there is giant army of “flashers” and web prorgammers (who hates IE). So all of them will choose Adobe. It’s great opportunity to extend their ability into desktop develpment. I think Apollo will be huge success.

  10. Well we develop for the ‘Internet Platform’ and we develop on Macs and Linux. We use Windows also, but primarily for testing rather than developing. I think Apollo is smart and a pretty platform but we are unlikely to switch from the internet to it because it is a single vendor platform and we are not going to make that kind of mistake again. We only use open standards and platforms now, competition is essential for us. Also we envisage that we will be able to achieve 80-90% of what Apollo offers through open standards soon anyhow.

    regards
    Al

  11. Well we develop for the ‘Internet Platform’ and we develop on Macs and Linux. We use Windows also, but primarily for testing rather than developing. I think Apollo is smart and a pretty platform but we are unlikely to switch from the internet to it because it is a single vendor platform and we are not going to make that kind of mistake again. We only use open standards and platforms now, competition is essential for us. Also we envisage that we will be able to achieve 80-90% of what Apollo offers through open standards soon anyhow.

    regards
    Al

  12. I’ll be using Apollo. I’m sure I’ll be one of many. Developers are still learning what they can do with Flex 2 (Flex 1 costs tens of thousands of dollars, so it was a real non-starter; Flex 2 is free) and it’s been out for months. I think it’ll be probably just as long before we see what people do with Apollo once it is out.

    My prediction is that one of the first things you’ll see is social networking apps. MySpace has already expressed interest in Flex. With Apollo they can have a few Flash/web devs put together an app that will run on all platforms.

  13. I’ll be using Apollo. I’m sure I’ll be one of many. Developers are still learning what they can do with Flex 2 (Flex 1 costs tens of thousands of dollars, so it was a real non-starter; Flex 2 is free) and it’s been out for months. I think it’ll be probably just as long before we see what people do with Apollo once it is out.

    My prediction is that one of the first things you’ll see is social networking apps. MySpace has already expressed interest in Flex. With Apollo they can have a few Flash/web devs put together an app that will run on all platforms.

  14. I was looking at “Apollo” today, it looks more like some sort of “Frankenstein”, Flash, HTML, Javascript, Some other XML. I am not sure what it runs on, how it’s compiled. Having used Flash in the past (hated it), I am not certain I will buy into the stack. The only Demo app I saw that looked good was Scrybe, I haven’t seen the eBay demo though. Does anyone know the learning curve for this stuff, how much longer does it take to create applications using this platform?

  15. I was looking at “Apollo” today, it looks more like some sort of “Frankenstein”, Flash, HTML, Javascript, Some other XML. I am not sure what it runs on, how it’s compiled. Having used Flash in the past (hated it), I am not certain I will buy into the stack. The only Demo app I saw that looked good was Scrybe, I haven’t seen the eBay demo though. Does anyone know the learning curve for this stuff, how much longer does it take to create applications using this platform?

  16. “…cross-OS development, cross-OS delivery, and easy, efficient distribution.”

    Hmm… Sounds like Java. As the applets never quite succeeded, Adobe is now trying their approach.

    Interesting, I did not see this coming.

  17. “…cross-OS development, cross-OS delivery, and easy, efficient distribution.”

    Hmm… Sounds like Java. As the applets never quite succeeded, Adobe is now trying their approach.

    Interesting, I did not see this coming.

  18. I prefer to view Apollo as a way to build offline-capable HTML/JS/CSS applications which have full access to the Actionscript API via a JS/Actionscript bridge and an option for tighter integration with flash.

  19. I prefer to view Apollo as a way to build offline-capable HTML/JS/CSS applications which have full access to the Actionscript API via a JS/Actionscript bridge and an option for tighter integration with flash.

  20. I’m the product manager of the eBay Apollo product (code named San Dimas). Of course I’m very excited that Apollo is released and I can finally talk publicly about it.

    “All I can say is my jaw hit the floor after watching the eBay demo of it” – thanks, Sam!

    “I think Apollo is smart and a pretty platform but we are unlikely to switch from the internet to it because it is a single vendor platform and we are not going to make that kind of mistake again. We only use open standards and platforms now, competition is essential for us.” – That is a valid criticism, but I am encouraged with Adobe’s recent moved to standardize PDF and offer their actionscript VM as open source.

    “Does anyone know the learning curve for this stuff, how much longer does it take to create applications using this platform?” – Carolus, speaking as someone who in the past had tried to learn Flash 3 different times, I can say that it was very easy for me to pick up.

    “Hmm… Sounds like Java. As the applets never quite succeeded, Adobe is now trying their approach.” – It absolutely is like Java, only with a focus on the desktop, and only the desktop. I’m a Java guy at heart, and I can say that they have learned from Java’s mistakes, for example the install process for apps is very smooth.

    Cheers,
    Alan

  21. I’m the product manager of the eBay Apollo product (code named San Dimas). Of course I’m very excited that Apollo is released and I can finally talk publicly about it.

    “All I can say is my jaw hit the floor after watching the eBay demo of it” – thanks, Sam!

    “I think Apollo is smart and a pretty platform but we are unlikely to switch from the internet to it because it is a single vendor platform and we are not going to make that kind of mistake again. We only use open standards and platforms now, competition is essential for us.” – That is a valid criticism, but I am encouraged with Adobe’s recent moved to standardize PDF and offer their actionscript VM as open source.

    “Does anyone know the learning curve for this stuff, how much longer does it take to create applications using this platform?” – Carolus, speaking as someone who in the past had tried to learn Flash 3 different times, I can say that it was very easy for me to pick up.

    “Hmm… Sounds like Java. As the applets never quite succeeded, Adobe is now trying their approach.” – It absolutely is like Java, only with a focus on the desktop, and only the desktop. I’m a Java guy at heart, and I can say that they have learned from Java’s mistakes, for example the install process for apps is very smooth.

    Cheers,
    Alan

  22. Although it’s not perfect, we’ve actually decided to use Java Web Start for a Desktop-based RIA system we’re currently building, aimed at the general public.

    The decision to use Java for the client was actually pretty finely balanced. As Alan said in #13, Adobe have really got the whole deployment issue nicely sorted; and in that regard, Java Web Start isn’t perfect by any means.

    My feeling was that the deployment issues with Java Web Start were such that it made it “not good enough” for us to use. And, of course, it’s possible to build some amazing apps with Flex/ActionScript. So, Apollo was something we considered.

    However, the truth is – aside from the deployment issues, Java has some pretty big advantages compared to other “cross-platform” client platforms (assuming you have developers that are competent). So, we decided to do some (admitedly limited) usability testing with Java Web Start (and Java Applets too), using the very latest stable builds of Java – that is Java 6 Update 1. The aim being to see how “bad” the situation with client Java was.

    I have to say – the results were pretty surprising to me. They indicated that regular consumers are likely to find Java acceptable on the client. Deployment was pretty straightforward, and start-up time didn’t put people off. I should stress that the testing here was pretty limited, so your mileage may vary. I suspect though, that the advances Java has made with the release of Java 6, are pretty significant for people doing work on the client.

    As I said on my blog a few hours ago:

    http://www.psynixis.com/blog/2007/03/19/the-hype-around-apollo-am-i-missing-something/

    I’m not sure if I’m missing something with Apollo; but it just doesn’t seem that impressive to me.

  23. Although it’s not perfect, we’ve actually decided to use Java Web Start for a Desktop-based RIA system we’re currently building, aimed at the general public.

    The decision to use Java for the client was actually pretty finely balanced. As Alan said in #13, Adobe have really got the whole deployment issue nicely sorted; and in that regard, Java Web Start isn’t perfect by any means.

    My feeling was that the deployment issues with Java Web Start were such that it made it “not good enough” for us to use. And, of course, it’s possible to build some amazing apps with Flex/ActionScript. So, Apollo was something we considered.

    However, the truth is – aside from the deployment issues, Java has some pretty big advantages compared to other “cross-platform” client platforms (assuming you have developers that are competent). So, we decided to do some (admitedly limited) usability testing with Java Web Start (and Java Applets too), using the very latest stable builds of Java – that is Java 6 Update 1. The aim being to see how “bad” the situation with client Java was.

    I have to say – the results were pretty surprising to me. They indicated that regular consumers are likely to find Java acceptable on the client. Deployment was pretty straightforward, and start-up time didn’t put people off. I should stress that the testing here was pretty limited, so your mileage may vary. I suspect though, that the advances Java has made with the release of Java 6, are pretty significant for people doing work on the client.

    As I said on my blog a few hours ago:

    http://www.psynixis.com/blog/2007/03/19/the-hype-around-apollo-am-i-missing-something/

    I’m not sure if I’m missing something with Apollo; but it just doesn’t seem that impressive to me.

  24. @Stephane I had to chime in here. It’s a bit difficult to write about things that have shipped with a bunch of the technologies I talk about (WPF/E, Apollo) haven’t shipped themselves.

    That said, I try to do just that. I interviewed Alan Lewis about their eBay application, I profiled the Finetune Desktop which released today, I’ve talked with the Yourminis team, done a couple of posts on the NYT Reader as well as Identity Mine’s reader.

    Expect more to come as a lot of the Flex applications get to the point where I can talk about them. The space is still so young and there are a lot of stealth startups I can’t wait to interview. Thanks for the feedback though.

  25. @Stephane I had to chime in here. It’s a bit difficult to write about things that have shipped with a bunch of the technologies I talk about (WPF/E, Apollo) haven’t shipped themselves.

    That said, I try to do just that. I interviewed Alan Lewis about their eBay application, I profiled the Finetune Desktop which released today, I’ve talked with the Yourminis team, done a couple of posts on the NYT Reader as well as Identity Mine’s reader.

    Expect more to come as a lot of the Flex applications get to the point where I can talk about them. The space is still so young and there are a lot of stealth startups I can’t wait to interview. Thanks for the feedback though.

  26. Tim: no. We receive money to put their content on our network. That doesn’t include anything about me. They are not paying us to take an editorial stance or “promote” them. They are, however, advertisers on our network.

  27. Tim: no. We receive money to put their content on our network. That doesn’t include anything about me. They are not paying us to take an editorial stance or “promote” them. They are, however, advertisers on our network.

  28. OK. It just seemed that there were a lot more posts per month since Adobe signed up to Podtech than before. I guess that’s just your exposure to the technology.

  29. OK. It just seemed that there were a lot more posts per month since Adobe signed up to Podtech than before. I guess that’s just your exposure to the technology.

  30. @19 Of course, looking at it from Adobe’s perspective, more “unbiased” posts on a “personal” blog by an “executive” of PodTech just MIGHT motivate them to do more advertising.

  31. @19 Of course, looking at it from Adobe’s perspective, more “unbiased” posts on a “personal” blog by an “executive” of PodTech just MIGHT motivate them to do more advertising.

  32. Well, it’s cross-platform, open source, and fairly lightweight, (smaller than Gecko at least).

    What else are they going to use besides rolling their own? IE’s engine?

  33. Well, it’s cross-platform, open source, and fairly lightweight, (smaller than Gecko at least).

    What else are they going to use besides rolling their own? IE’s engine?

  34. Talking about cross-OS desktop platform, how about bringing the desktop and the web even closer. Make desktop seamlessly to be a part of the “web” and get “web” closer to the desktop. Be able to access the web from desktop apps. And get desktop content, data and servcies into the web- get the desktop apps to “collaborate” over the web. Essentially get the power of the web, but “run” on the desktop, off the desktop data. And when needed, share and collaborate over the web.

    Adobe Apollo and Pramati’s dekoh are platforms in this direction. A cross-OS desktop platform for the web.

    Pramati’s dekoh (http://www.dekoh.com) goes a step further and does this leveraging Java standards- say, one can write a desktop application using Java and servlets. It goes even further by making this platform zero-install and auto-administered; will get automatically setup on first access (where otherwise, one would have normally located, downloaded and installed.. just as is needed for Adobe Apollo). Ontop of this zero-install zero-maintanance desktop platform for apps written in Java, dekoh also includes collaboration and sharing functionality available as APIs. This enables bringing the desktop closer to the web. Very effectively bridging the gap between desktop and web.

    Such functionality opens up a new class of desktop apps that leverage the web. This is what I would like to build going forward. Blurring the lines between programming environments for the desktop and the server. Need to see how Apollo compares on this front!

  35. Talking about cross-OS desktop platform, how about bringing the desktop and the web even closer. Make desktop seamlessly to be a part of the “web” and get “web” closer to the desktop. Be able to access the web from desktop apps. And get desktop content, data and servcies into the web- get the desktop apps to “collaborate” over the web. Essentially get the power of the web, but “run” on the desktop, off the desktop data. And when needed, share and collaborate over the web.

    Adobe Apollo and Pramati’s dekoh are platforms in this direction. A cross-OS desktop platform for the web.

    Pramati’s dekoh (http://www.dekoh.com) goes a step further and does this leveraging Java standards- say, one can write a desktop application using Java and servlets. It goes even further by making this platform zero-install and auto-administered; will get automatically setup on first access (where otherwise, one would have normally located, downloaded and installed.. just as is needed for Adobe Apollo). Ontop of this zero-install zero-maintanance desktop platform for apps written in Java, dekoh also includes collaboration and sharing functionality available as APIs. This enables bringing the desktop closer to the web. Very effectively bridging the gap between desktop and web.

    Such functionality opens up a new class of desktop apps that leverage the web. This is what I would like to build going forward. Blurring the lines between programming environments for the desktop and the server. Need to see how Apollo compares on this front!

  36. We at Ucompass.com, Inc., (a LMS/CMS vendor) are using Apollo technology to make it easier for online students to do their work. The Educator Desktop is the first commercial e-Learning application to be built on top of Adobe’s innovative Apollo platform. Attaching files to assignments is often one of the more troublesome tasks for new online students since normally files have to be uploaded within the confines of the web browser. With the Educator Desktop, the online classroom interface and the student’s desktop computer are one in the same, enabling students to simply drag and drop desktop files to a target assignment. Click to view info or to contact Ed Mansouri regarding the Educator Desktop Apollo app and other Apollo-based initiatives.

  37. We at Ucompass.com, Inc., (a LMS/CMS vendor) are using Apollo technology to make it easier for online students to do their work. The Educator Desktop is the first commercial e-Learning application to be built on top of Adobe’s innovative Apollo platform. Attaching files to assignments is often one of the more troublesome tasks for new online students since normally files have to be uploaded within the confines of the web browser. With the Educator Desktop, the online classroom interface and the student’s desktop computer are one in the same, enabling students to simply drag and drop desktop files to a target assignment. Click to view info or to contact Ed Mansouri regarding the Educator Desktop Apollo app and other Apollo-based initiatives.