Adobe’s Apollo to Ease Desktop Development?

    December 15, 2006

In early 2005, when Adobe announced an agreement to acquire Macromedia, creative professionals released a collective gasp. Many worried about a creative software monopoly, others pondered the fate of competing applications (GoLive versus Dreamweaver, Freehand versus Illustrator, etc), and some dreamed of what offspring may come of this union.

Since this summer, and somewhat quietly, Adobe has been promoting what might be the first true “child” of this merger, Apollo. Expected to pre-release in early 2007, according to Adobe Labs, “Apollo is the code name for a cross-operating system runtime being developed by Adobe that allows developers to leverage their existing web development skills (Flash, Flex, HTML, JavaScript, Ajax) to build and deploy Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) to the desktop.”

Like many, I’ve ever pined for a way to link the joys of dynamic online content with a desktop application. Widgets feel too “disconnected” and “tacked on,” Java’s GUI customization is daunting, complexity in building native applications (for any OS) is a turnoff for the uninitiated, and cross compatibility remains the bane of most existing methods. Thus, Apollo sounds great on paper!

Our laziness is also cause, in large part, for excitement. Web developers shouldn’t have to learn anything new in order to build an Apollo app. Retaining (and practicing) our general web-coding knowledge whilst working on desktop projects is also very appealing. As with widgets, bringing existing content out of browsers should be a mere afternoon endeavor.

Another given target is a complete respect for tight reins over design, giving us “100% control.” Supposedly, this will match the level we’re currently accustomed to with PDF. For similar reasons, most are excited at Adobe’s choice of WebKit for Apollo’s HTML and JavaScript engine.

eBay seems optimistic, as they’re already working on an Apollo project codenamed “San Dimas.” Excellent.

Yet, all is not perfect.

Unfortunately, the 2007 pre-release will only be available for Windows and OS X. Though Linux support is in the schedule, there’s no word on where it falls in the development cycle.

Additionally, few have yet to dabble in Apollo so little is to be said outside of demos and announcements. So, let us be wary; remembering that the Greek’s Apollo was both a god of healing and of plague.

For more information, take a gander at this recent presentation footage (courtesy, Mike Chambers) and visit Adobe Labs Apollo page.

Charlie is a videographer, web developer and occasional correspondent for the WebProNews Video Blog.