Apollo Blasts Off From Adobe

    March 19, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

The new platform has entered a public alpha test for developers who want to create web applications capable of running online or offline on a computer.

The challenge web application developers face comes when their desired audience takes their computer away from the Internet. With no connection there is no productivity, and that has probably hampered efforts to really drive a broader userbase into web-based applications.

Adobe’s Luis Polanco, senior product manager for Apollo, talked to WebProNews about the cross-operating system runtime ahead of a fully booked ‘Apollo Camp’ on Friday that took place in San Francisco.

Apollo can be used to make an online application ready for offline use. The business traveling audience comes to mind, as viable airline Internet options have yet to take hold in the United States. It’s difficult to wean people away from Microsoft Office if they can’t use a web-based choice when off the Net.

The runtime enables developers working in Adobe’s Flash or Flex, or in the HTML and JavaScript world, to use those tools and create their Rich Internet Applications (as Adobe likes to call them) for desktop deployment.

Support for PDF will be coming later this year; Polanco said deeper Ajax support likewise would be delivered later in 2007. With this launch, Polanco said Adobe wants to get feedback as developers evaluate the runtime, which is freely available as a download.

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.

Windows and Macintosh receive support at the OS level out of the gate. Adobe has plans to add Linux support in a future version; Linux fans who have waited a long time for an updated Flash Player from Adobe for their preferred OS may be taking a ‘wait and see’ view here.

Polanco said a benefit of Apollo would be the ‘Virtual Ubiquity’ of Apollo applications. Through the leveraging of local file system access, "experiences are the same as online" with web-based applications, he noted.

Such access made us curious about security implications for Apollo applications. Polanco stressed that mechanisms in those apps, coupled with sound developer practices, will mitigate those concerns.

Response from blogs observing the launch has been generally positive. Michael Arrington waxed enthusiastically about Apollo at TechCrunch, while Jay Fortner wrote at ReadWriteWeb that Adobe is "really engaging developers and bloggers in the roll-out process."