March 22, 2007

Adobe Apollo

Adobe posted the first public preview of their Flash-based content runtime (codenamed) Apollo on Monday. Its pretty good - were I Microsoft, I'd be concerned.

I've discussed the ideas at some length before and Adobe's offering is clearly the strongest one out the gate... Microsoft's WPF(/e) strategy is very confused (at best), and XULRunner, from the Mozilla foundation, is potentially promising, but in practice looks to also be unsure of what its real goals are (for example, I think the ECMAScript edition 4 spec that's at its core is poorly maturing a powerful dynamic language).

But the Adobe guys seem to get what the real problems are that the browser itself solves (from a developer perspective), which is to say, a unified cross-platform development model (not for cross platform apps, per se, but to enable broadest developer knowledge) and distribution.

It's an alpha, so there's quite some goofiness, and it suffers from many of the foibles and issues that Flash does, but all in all.... its very credible as a development platform. I think the distribution and navigation aspects skew too heavily toward the desktop application paradigm, and that's a big mistake, but its one strictly of UI, not technology, so hopefully that can be addressed.

One nice bit of icing is the inclusion of a full web browsing component, enabling easy consumption of existing web content and infrastructure in your new "desktop" application. Its also the first instance of the KHTML/WebCore (the same browsing engine in Safari on the Mac and Konqeror in KDE/Linux) that's broadly available on Windows. So if you want to see how your site might look on the Mac, you can check it out with one of the Apollo samples (you can use "Scout") on Windows...


(and minor item for team Adobe: if you haven't exorcised icu and iconv from WebKit on Windows - you can save a few MB from your distribution size - by doing so...)

18 comments:

Twinsen said...

When first playing with the SDK I noticed several of the samples using some god awful file chooser dialogs (ala X11R5). Digging deeper, this alpha just plain doesn't 'fit in' with the hosting OS as any platform wishing to "live as one" with the desktop should.

e.g. No native file open/save dialogs, no fine control of window chrome, no file extension or file type registration, no native clipboard or drag and drop, (grrr, fix the scroll wheel folks).

In a couple posts Adobe lists these desktop app features as part of Apollo 1.0 (RC), so I'm hoping they don't sweep them under the carpet.

Sree Kotay said...

Good points - but also remember that the alternative for most companies will be browser/web apps, not desktop apps

bez said...

My bet is on something that not only leverages the web developemnt model but actually *is* the web development model taken to the desktop...the first of this trend is the joyent slingshot. The first of many.

Kilroy Trout said...

No just hold your horses! Currently Java is slated to take over the web & desktop. Apollo take a number as AJAX is currently next up, followed by WPF/e, followed by .NET ClickOnce, followed by ROR, Slingshot, Firefox 3, widgets, Dekoh,...

Twinsen said...

Beware Parakey. All your interfaces belong to us!

Sree Kotay said...

i dunno - joyent is an extension of web development model only insomuch as you embrace that specific one (ruby on rails)... not sure its "general"...

and java... the device folks keep pushing it (phones, settops) - but I really don't get it on the client...

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