What is Adobe Apollo?

Update: Apollo has since been rename AIR – Adobe Integrated Runtime. Personally, I Preferred the ‘Flex’ name.
What is Adobe Apollo? You know, Adobe , the people that give us the PDF reader.
Is Apollo the new Java for this Decade? Will it replace Atlas and .Net? Is Apollo an answer to problems we have in building web sites that all users can see? Will Apollo replace Ajax , Flash and plain vanilla HTML? Does it play well with Ruby and JRuby?


I don’t know. And neither does the Financial Times Tech Blog. But it does say

Adobe (and incidentally eBay) looks like it has a winner – if only the company can find a better way to explain what Apollo does.

I do know that Apollo may fix the pain of cross-platform web development. So, I’m over to the Adobe Labs site to find out more. Ajaxian has the demo. Mike Chambers (Adobe product development) has the slides. According to Mike:

Apollo is a cross-operating system runtime that allows developers to leverage their existing web development skills (Flash, Flex, HTML, Ajax) to build and deploy desktop RIA’s.

Translation into plain English:Powerful web pages,easy to build , loads of pretty colours. If it’s delivered as promised


  1. I hope Apolo will make it easier to deal with platform-dependent features.. like DLLs. Because that’s the only big point that current Adobe Flex doesn’t support.
    And I can’t imagine how they plan to allow people to write desktop applications using HTML. CSS I would understand. πŸ™‚

  2. About Web pages working as applications on the desktop –

    From reading the docs , it looks like the intend bundling the same html rendering engine as used in the Safari browser.


  3. Flash, Flex, HTML, JavaScript, Ajax? We’re supposed to get users to install another client application on their desktop yet while we’re at it we’re unable to do any better than the current mishmash of browser-based tools? Doesn’t anyone else long for the good ‘ol days when you wrote your application in just one language?

  4. Peter

    Yes, sometimes I look back to the ‘old days’ when life was a lot easier – one language easier. Then I remember the pain of having to deploy each application on every single PC, with it behaving differently on each πŸ™‚

    We’ll have to see where Flex goes and if apollo fulfils it’s promise. Bruce has a point though – sooner or later Ajax will run out of steam.


  5. HTML/CSS/MXML are actually appearance statements, not languages, even Delphi and VB have this kind file for each screen.

    But I believe that, when you create a screen in apollo, you have to choose from a HTML environment or MXML environment

  6. If you choose HTML, you’ll have javascript as the scripting language or, if you choose MXML you’ll have AS3.

    But the problem is that they’ll have to implement too much classes like socket connections, file access and so on. So I think the base language will be AS3 and javascript you be able to call it

  7. Andre,

    Went into the Spec in more detail – it’s a 9mb download (ouch!), whereas Flash is pretty much installed on every machine (thanks to YouTube at the very least).

    *IF* Adobe ties this to the flash download and *IF* people swing behind it then I can see huge demand for it (see Bruce Eckels original post). Those are still 2 big ‘IF’s and only time will tell …


  8. Actually I wasn’t expecting it to have a virtual machine like Java. I thought it would be compiled like some Flash movies are. Maybe there will be both options. I need to read more about it. πŸ™‚

  9. If it’s interpreted, 9mb download maybe even smaller than I would expect. Good for us.. I’ll read more about it, and post at my blog. What’s your name Admin?

  10. Appearance statements/declarative languages, I don’t care what you call it. The fact is that DHTML/CSS/JavaScript are kludges necessary to build applications in what was originally a document presentation application, the browser. I think a lot of people have been working with web apps so long they forget that and think that these are some ideal toolset for building applications.

    If we can get people to install a new client-side application, then the options are wide open. We could take this opportunity to get back to a single implementation language. Note that just because you’re using only one language doesn’t mean that all of a sudden you have to deploy it the old fashioned way. For example, instead of downloading an HTML page full of CSS, JavaScript and Flash crud, a URL could download some binary instead. And that binary could be written in a single language that makes developer’s lives a lot easier, just like the good parts of the good old days.

  11. Andre , I’m Paul Browne (contact details at top)


    If we can get people to install a new client side application. That’s a big if, but I hope somebody will come out with a standard that people can agree on . Adobe seems the best bet – people don’t trust Microsoft. Java had his chance , and failed on the client.

  12. Paul, the new client side application I was referring to is Apollo. I think it’s a shame that it looks like it’s nothing more than another way to deliver DHTML, JavaScript, and Flash.

  13. Only the un-informed think that java has failed on the client. It’s come a long way since 1.2, 1.3. In conjunction w/ building on top of an RCP like Eclipse or Netbeans, it’s better than .net or flex. See what Flex Builder is built on top of(Eclipse RCP).

    Also, you’d be foolish to think that you get once chance at it, and are not capable of redefining yourself…WTF did AJAX come from?! Hello javascript!!!!

  14. Bob,

    Java’s capabilities on the client *have* come a long way (e.g. SWT based applications are as good as anything I seen built with .Net).

    It’s a pity the distribution lags behind – including Java Web Start. For you non-techie user there is nothing as ‘smooth’ an install experience as (for example) is available with Flash.

    I’m confused by the last line; it seems to imply Javascript = Java which we know is not the case πŸ™‚

    Sadly , sometimes , we do only get one chance , and it is hard to regain momentum once lost. If only Sun / Java had somebody like Steve Jobs to champion it!


  15. Paul, sorry I didn’t spell it out more clearly.

    Your point was java client is dead. My point was “WTF did Ajax come from” meaning I thought it was very short sighted of you to say that…esp b/c javascript was more dead Jade Goody’s career, and then bam…Google Maps came out and everyone went gaga on AJAX.

  16. Bob,

    Ah! I see – that makes more sense to me now.

    As much as I would like to see Java reborn on the client , I’m not holding my breath. (BTW I didn’t say Java was dead, only that it’s difficult to get 2 bites at the cherry).

    There is an investment every year to learn new skills, and you try and pick the ones that will pay off the best both in the short and the long run.

    So the question is do I bet my time and effort on a technology that could be big (again) i.e. Java client. Or do I go with a company that has a good track record in delivering plugins that work in the browser (i.e. Adobe , with Flash and PDF being 2 major success).

    It’s not a choice that I like to have to make. Maybe I’m biased by the fact that I have enough Java Client skills / experience to cover that are (should it make it big), and I need to get to a similar situation if Adobe wins out.

    None of the above is about the technology , but a mercenary decision on what is going to pay the rent in coming years πŸ™‚


  17. Pingback: dev.Floriansweb
  18. Delixe,

    Too late! I download Apollo yesterday, just after I got the announcement email.

    Only beginning to play with it now, so no opinion as yet.


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