Adobe will launch the first public alpha version of its Apollo platform later tonight - Ryan Stewart got the news out first. Apollo is the code name for the much hyped Adobe cross-operating system. It allows developers to build RIA (Rich Internet Applications) for the desktop, using the development platform of their choice. A key value proposition of the new technology, according to Adobe, is the ability for developers to create desktop applications in a fraction of the time they're used to. Using Apollo developers can build applications using HTML, JavaScript, Flash, Flex and Ajax. Adobe's goal is to redefine the Internet application and how it interacts with the browser - and vice-versa.

Included in the Alpha release is:

  • Free SDK (in English) with command line tools for developing and deploying Apollo Applications;
  • The runtime is available for both the Windows and Mac operating systems.

A new feature in this alpha release is multi-window support, which means that all apps can talk to each other.

However there are still a number of things missing in the Alpha release. They include:

  • PDF support;
  • Flash content inside HTML (but HTML inside Flash is available);
  • Complex data storage;
  • Form Widgets;
  • Drag and Drop.

eBay and Adobe

In the press release eBay's Max Mancini, Senior Director of Disruptive Innovation, is quoted as saying:

"Our work with Apollo is an example of one of the many ways eBay is delivering a fun, immersive experience outside of the browser. In this case, the eBay.com marketplace is brought straight to users' desktops with improved caching, real-time product availability notifications, and auction updates."
(emphasis ours)

It's clear then that Apollo enables users such as eBay to complement (or bypass?) the browser.

The bottom line

This is an alpha version, so we have to expect some bugs and usability issues. But it's great that Adobe is getting this out as soon as possible - and really engaging developers and bloggers in the roll-out process. I recently had the opportunity to attend the Adobe Engage event; also last Friday Adobe reached out to Ajax, Flex, and Flash developers for Apollo Camp.

Adobe does have some challenges ahead - in my previous post, I questioned Apollo's capability to build applications that cater towards the mainstream web user. Creating value for the average user will probably be more difficult than it was getting adoption of Flash back in the 90's. However Apollo will be compelling for the early adopter.

Security will in my opinion be the number one concern, so let's hope that Adobe puts out all the fires before it reaches the mass market.