Adobe Launches Apollo

Apollo from Adobe Systems Inc. brings Flash to the desktop.

Microsoft's upcoming Windows Presentation Foundation/Everywhere (WPF/E) browser plug-in has produced its share of buzz. Often labeled a "Flash Killer," WPF/E is meant to enable certain advanced features native to Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), such as vector graphics. Deployed via a browser runtime, WPF/E content can play on multiple platforms. (WPF/E is now available as a community technology preview.)

But Flash pioneer Adobe Systems Inc. is proving itself to be a moving target. The company in March released an alpha of "Apollo," a cross-platform runtime capable of building and deploying rich Internet apps (RIA) on the desktop.

With Apollo, the company seeks to leverage the massive Flash install base and deep familiarity among developers well before .NET 3.0 technologies like WPF and WPF/E are in wide use.

Adobe Senior Technical Evangelist Christophe Coenraets says Adobe's Flex architecture is also bettered suited for cross-platform environments. "They come from the desktop and try to extend the desktop to the Web, and we're trying to extend the Web to the desktop," Coenraets says.

"It's not [Adobe's] first shot at taking Flash beyond the browser," says Burton Group analyst Peter O'Kelly, noting the previous Macromedia Central toolkit. "I think they're probably taking a pretty serious run at it this time."

Adobe and Microsoft find themselves in a race with the typical roles reversed, O'Kelly says. Adobe is trying to court developers through the Apollo Software Developer's Kit (SDK) and Microsoft is reaching out to designers -- long Adobe's prime audience -- with its Expression line of tools.

As a platform, Flash is long past its early days as the "skip intro" client, as O'Kelly quips. "There has been a very significant state change with the latest release of the Flash player," he says. "Flash in many respects is delivering on the write once, run anywhere promise that Java never delivered."

The point of Apollo is to enable users to work with Internet apps without launching a browser. If content is changed or added offline it can be synced back up with the app once a user goes online.

Adobe says due to the desktop integration, users eventually will be able to drag and drop files and assets into Apollo apps. Also, the company says future versions of Apollo will support Linux, feature PDF integration and work with mobile technologies, as well as include more support for AJAX. The alpha version of the Apollo application runtime and the Apollo SDK are available for download at

About the Author

Chris Kanaracus is the news editor for Redmond Developer News.

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