Thoughts on Crossplatform, Offline Web-Apps & Apollo

Adobe just demo’ed Apollo.

To my understanding, Apollo is a platform that is available on major operating systems, which allow web-apps to work as “real applications”. I understand this is similar to the “offline apps” feature that is being worked into Firefox 3. From 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.

In laymans terms, it’s the web without the browser.

This is interesting for a number of reasons. In the most recent years we’ve seen the rise of such web-apps as Google Docs (spreadsheet & word processor), various sticky note/todo-list services and a myriad of other more or less useful services. Personally, I’ve recently switched to using Gmail as my only email client.

Writing / re-writing these services to take advantage of a runtime such as Apollo would give a number of benefits; each app would/could be a standalone “application” instead of requiring a browser. Each app would work offline, simply queuing whatever actions were taken to then synchronize them when going online. Finally, they’d get the ability to read/write local files, which could be used for a number of things. It could be a major push for web-apps, one that would finally cross the boundary problems of being web-only. I think it’s the next big thing for the web.

I, for one, would love to have a quickly launched, offline-ready Google Calendar app handy instead of being limited by connectivity and a browser. You?

6 thoughts on “Thoughts on Crossplatform, Offline Web-Apps & Apollo”

  1. Gareth says:

    I have already started to port my vj app over to apollo, looks great so far.

    fintune is a nice early example apollo in action.

    http://www.finetune.com/desktop/

  2. I saw this too; if (and maybe even if it doesn’t) it’s going to be as widely distributed as flash/pdf reader is, it’s going to be one hell of a force in computers/web.

    Looks very interesting.

  3. Joen says:

    I have already started to port my vj app over to apollo, looks great so far.

    Very cool. If it looks great in an alpha, then it must be easy to use! Cool!

    I saw this too; if (and maybe even if it doesn?t) it?s going to be as widely distributed as flash/pdf reader is, it?s going to be one hell of a force in computers/web.

    Looks very interesting.

    It does. Essentially, Apollo seems to be what Java has tried to do for quite a while, but miserably failed to. I believe Apollo can bring to Google Docs that edge it has missed over real Office suites such as Microsofts. Flash just can do more things with text than HTML can.

    One thing the Flash Player is sorely missing, though, is hardware acceleration! While Flash content can run reasonably quickly, it’s still not hardware accelerated, which means as soon as there are many vector shapes on the screen, things grind to a slow, especially on older machines. Just look at my installments section, where my most recent installments have been in “low quality antialiasing” due to the speed issues.

    While I can imagine crossplatform hardware acceleration is quite a feat, it certainly shouldn’t be impossible. Fact is, there are a few 3rd party Flash Players out there that are hardware accelerated, showing significant performance gains. While these are usually really limited in their actionscript capabilites, it does show that it’s possible.

    So, while Apollo looks interesting, I’m thinking it really does need hardware acceleration to be a killer competitor, and it needs it soon.

    By the way, while looking around for more Apollo info, I found out there are quite a few interesting videos available

  4. It does. Essentially, Apollo seems to be what Java has tried to do for quite a while, but miserably failed to.

    That’s exactly what I was thinking!

    Can’t wait to see how Google Docs will turn out in it 🙂

  5. Thom says:

    You know, as an IT guy with the Adobe Labs RSS feed in my reader, I really should have been following this more. Somehow I managed to ignore it. But the concept definitely seems to fill in the gap of where web apps fail – namely when you don’t have a connection.

    I too have switched to Gmail full time, as well as Google Reader, and am now playing around with their calendar. It sure would be nice to have access to some of that offline. And, more importantly, there are small companies that I might be doing side jobs for – this would give them yet another option to avoid the heavy MS licensing fees.

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