updated 10:20 am EDT, Thu May 25, 2006
Adobe details Apollo
Adobe has revealed more details on Apollo, one of the first products of the Adobe-Macromedia merger that will be integrated into Flash Player and Acrobat Reader. The technology will provide developers with the tools to create run-time applications available offline without a browser, and will incur the lower costs associated with Web development tools that require Web browsers, according to PDFzone. "This is the natural evolution of what [Adobe and Macromedia] have been promoting for a long time," Todd Hay said, director of platform marketing and developer relations for Adobe. "A lot of our core community really sees PDF not as a portable document format but rather a portable application container." Hay said the idea behind Apollo is to enable applications currently made from flash and PDF to "move beyond the browser" by assigning flash-based applications a desktop icon that is launched the same way traditional applications are.
"It's incorporating the skills that people are using with HTML and adding to that much tighter integration with the desktop," Hay said. "So it's kind of a bridging [of] the worlds of the in-browser Flash experience and the desktop client Reader experience-but focused on the delivery of a new form of rich-media applications."
Flash developers will likely have a head start in creating Apollo applications, though Hay said his team is working to give Apollo application-like attributes such as wizard-style guides while another part of the team works to make Apollo integrate with forms created in Adobe Designer and Acrobat, according to the report.
Developers will also be able to create Apollo applications that can save information offline, such as ticket reservations, which will later automatically synchronize with the server when the computer reconnects to the Web.
These features will aid Adobe while it works to integrate PDF, flash, and HTML into a single "universal client" as a part of its long-term strategy.
"Apollo aims to create a cross-platform run-time that will allow you to develop desktop applications using traditional Web development," Mike Chambers said, an Adobe senior product manager working on developer relations for the Apollo team.
Chambers also dismissed rumors that Adobe is planning to merge Flash Player with Adobe Reader into one massive browser plug-in.
Adobe is aiming to release a free Apollo public alpha for developers as soon as possible on the Adobe Labs site, which will allow those developers to experiment with creating their own applications. The alpha version won't be released, however, until later this year. Hay said the idea is to get developers experimenting with the services they already know how to utilize so that they can expand their use with Apollo.
Apollo will also likely show users that PDF is more than a simple electronic photocopy of a paper document, by including more rich dynamic content in the PDF wrapper.
"I think the really compelling features of Apollo for the PDF developer is being able to expand beyond the document metaphor for those parts of the application that require that," Hay said. "Apollo may not be a significant value-add for them at first. But as they begin to add some of the additional capabilities—application UI or run-time, dynamic charting, financial information, taking better advantage of offline business logic and offline data—Apollo becomes a pretty compelling addition to the tools that they have in Reader and PDF."