Archive for the ‘APOLLO’ Category
AIR is finally 1.0 and live as well as Flex3, both launched today. That is quite a 1-2 punch. These are both great technologies and AIR extends the reach to the desktop and lots of power with that being finally 1.0 and officially launched. It has been hard to convince people to develop on it other than tech demos and prototypes, this should help.
Ajaxian has the run down:
The AIR runtime and SDK has gone through an especially long beta cycle (since June 2007) to ensure that both security and compatibility with existing frameworks was achieved. Some key new and/or updated features include:
- Enhanced Desktop Fucntionality: Drag and drop to the operating system, copy and paste between applications, launching of AIR applications from the desktop or the browser, and run in the background with notifications.
- Data Access: Adobe AIR now provides both synchronous and asynchronous access to the local file system, as well as structured data within a local database. This database is implemented using the open source SQLite database.
- Security: Applications built on Adobe AIR can only be installed through a trustworthy install process that verifies that the application is signed via industry standard certificates, providing users with information about the source and capabilities of the application.
Adobe’s Flash-based RIA development platform, Flex, continues to mature and has been picking up steam in both the corporate space as well as sites such as blist and Scrapblog who have embraced Flex whole-heartedly. Some of the new features in Flex 3.0 include:
- Intelligent coding, interactive step-through debugging, and visual design of user interface layout
- New capabilities for creating RIAs and building applications on Adobe AIR
- Integrates with Adobe Creative Suite® 3 making it easy for designers and developers to work together more efficiently.
- New testing tools, including memory and performance profilers and integrated support for automated functional testing, speed up development and lead to higher performing RIAs.
One of the most compelling parts of the Flex announcement is the fact that Adobe has released the Flex SDK under the open source Mozilla Public License.
Adobe AIR apps are starting to pop up more. After the Grant Skinner AIR app for digg.com it appears Kevin Rose has launched pownce which is a twitter/email/friend/social sharing site/service. The desktop app for pownce.com is built with AIR. I believe AIR will really take off with these types of apps succeeding on it. Pownce is only alpha but it is hard to see it not being successful with the amount of digg users that will spill over.
Pownce (you have to be invited to private alpha)
Other apps for AIR so far that are usable and ready:
Competitor to last.fm. I wonder how long til a last.fm air app.
Digg Desktop Widget (from Adobe sponsored digg API contest)
Other AIR apps can be viewed here including kuler, a twitter app and more. And also here at Rob Christensen’s blog.
merhl has created an Adobe AIR iPhone widget for using the AIR runtime that is pretty cool. It only has some sample screens for most buttons in it but you can actually browse the web on it using the web browser and it flips sideways to show the screen flip. Check out your website or blog on the desktop iPhone. Get your AIR iPhone now!
merhl has made it auto updating with AIR so as he adds more functionality it will autoupdate. That is one neat aspect of doing desktop app/widget work with flash and AS3 in AIR is that it is much more capable of syncing content and that content is usually extremely optimized for fast delivery and keeping it up to date. Plus you can make chrome and shiny things with it.
Adobe is throwing down $100 million in venture funding to companies developing tools with Apollo. Or more specifically the “Engagement Platform“ Is Adobe serious about making Apollo successful? I would say yes. It is both an excellent PR move and it shows their dedication to making desktop as proliferated at Flash on the web.
Microsoft is already using companies to push the Silverlight technology who are known partners and to direct competition with Flash and Apollo with WPF/Silverlight. Although Apollo is a cross platform desktop application wrapper for Flash its more than Microsoft currently has and blows away widget libraries of today.
Here’s a snippet from Niall Kennedy
Adobe has allocated $100 million towards investing in companies that enhance its engagement platform and is especially interested in funding Apollo companies. As of last month Adobe had invested in 6 companies, including word processing company Virtual Ubiquity. Companies might develop for Apollo to take advantage a strategic investment from Adobe at reasonable terms.
Apollo in its current form seems overhyped, but the cross platform development space will definitely look different in a year as we see new toolkits from big companies executed inside and outside of the browser. It’s not too difficult for a web application to pop out of the web browser and into a standalone web technology, and the marketing and investment dollars being spent by large companies such as Adobe and Microsoft should help boost the visibility of cutting edge web apps.
This was announced at MAX the Apollo/Flash9/AS3 funding effort. There were lots of interesting things going on in the vector app space and direct to browser desktop apps. Ray Ozzie added his points about the future of desktop apps in that winforms apps are dead…
Adobe is in the process of Open Sourcing Flex Under the Mozilla Public License (Mozilla Public License FAQ: http://www.mozilla.org/MPL/mpl-faq.html )
Adobe is announcing plans to open source Flex under the Mozilla Public License (MPL). This includes not only the source to the ActionScript components from the Flex SDK, which have been available in source code form with the SDK since Flex 2 was released, but also includes the Java source code for the ActionScript and MXML compilers, the ActionScript debugger and the core ActionScript libraries from the SDK. The Flex SDK includes all of the components needed to create Flex applications that run in any browser – on Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux and on now on the desktop using “Apollo”.
The timeline to do so will be by the end of 2007.
The source code for the Flex framework is already available within the free distribution of the current Flex 2 SDK. By this summer, Adobe plans to put in place most of the infrastructure (public bug database and public daily builds) required to run the Flex SDK as an open source project. We expect to complete the transition to a fully open source project (source code for the compiler, infrastructure for community contributions, etc.) by the end of 2007.
This is pretty interesting in that it will lead to more applications challenging FlexBuilder but I imagine its largely to get around Open Sourcing Flash altogether. They will never do that. But some think that if Adobe were to do this that it would make flash more accepted as an application bulding tool.
Silverlight Incoming! Flank ‘em
However you might see more backing of Flex. I know many Flash developers and designers but not many are raving about Flex just yet. In fact its a bit of a confused strategy. It needs more support and this is a very good tactical move.
This is Flex trying to still get in the game
The reality is Flex is not really a player right now. Flash is the best for interactives, games, learning systems, etc and it completely OWNs online video. Director owns 3d games on the web. And .NET, Java, PHP, Rails, Python etc own the web and enterprise. That is just the state of the industry today. Flex isn’t a top choice right now.
Vector based to be more accepted?
With WPF entering and Flex possibly gaining more ground then vector based desktop apps and websites will be the norm maybe one day, but Adobe and former Macromedia’s sites aren’t even flash or flex. Its more about applications and as the web becomes even more of a platform for that more trusted than even your own hard drive this may change. The thing is people like to read content on textual systems like HTML. Vector based RIAs just do not do text correctly yet. All text should be selectable and able to be searched and copied. Many systems have dual content systems to be indexable but teh text in the flash also needs to be selectable. The closer the usability and readable content in flash comes along maybe this will change. Vector based interfaces are great for visual and advertising mediums but for most content its not there yet. Flex is starting to bring this in with better HTML support but I think that this move to open source was important to save a falling off initiative or one that had a bit of lag due to the switch from Macromedia to Adobe. I am still wondering what happened to Director in that hand off.
BumpMapping shows off the power of per pixel operations and how beneficial the addition of per pixel work is when it was added to Flash 8 with the graphics libraries and filters.
BumpMapping is great for simulating 3d depth in textures and can only be used minimally right now in flash due to the per pixel nature of the operation. It seems more work in this area is maxing out at 256×256 textures/maps.
For a quick benchmark you can see that ByteArray’s AS2 BumpMap sample is much much slower than the AS3 version. Its a small glimpse into the optimizations and reasons for graphics that AS3 is simply the best choice now. UnitZero’s BumpMap for AS2 is much faster but the comparison of ByteArray’s experiment is a better comparison since its using the same algorithm ported to AS3.
Adobe vs. Microsoft Vector Wars/Development platform heats up
Silverlight, formerly WPF/E, is a cross platform competitor to flash that launched today. The new name leaves something to be desired but this is a new technology battle over vector application for RIAs, interactives, 3d, games, etc.
The great thing about Silverlight is the use ot .NET and C# to code the interaction rather than Actionscript 3 in Apollo/Flex/Flash9. I like both languages but with a .NET language to code in flash this opens up the development of interactive to a whole batch of developers not into Flash.
One major glaring problem is that Flash won the internet video battle with FLV video but Silverlight only runs windows video.
All in all this is great news in that two of the biggest companies are going to be pushing Flash and Flash-like Silverlight, meaning mush more possible interactive work. Some are buying into the Microsoft vs. Adobe game but it just means better tools for smart developers that know how to leverage multiple platforms for their solutions. This usually leads to the best understanding of solution development when technology has your allegiance rather than a specific platform or company.
Widgets are here!
Widget libraries for the desktop are beginning to be more prevalent with OSX, Vista and many widget toolkits such as Yahoo Widgets (previously Konfabulator).
Here’s a great blog post(on yahoo so its slightly biased) but its pretty even handed on comparing the widget libraries from Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and Apple.
Desktop Widgets, Cross Platform please…
However, if you are trying to create a desktop widget (flash or AJAX based) that is for the desktop that is cross platform (in terms of Windows and MAC) the list quickly filters to the following types of tools:
- Yahoo! Widget Library or other widget library
- A Flash Desktop App Creator such as MDM ZINC (Embedded Flash in an application, ZINC is the best in my opinion)
- Adobe Apollo (RC Alpha, this has been in development and usable for developers for a couple of years but should launch by Q3/4 2007)
- Microsoft WPF/E(Not out for a while, now called “Silverlight”)
Widgets that are too platform specific
Essentially the Vista and MAC OSX widgets are cool, but unusable if we are only developing one codebase for all platforms.
Google Desktop Widgets (http://desktop.google.com/plugins/) don’t work on a MAC, Windows Gadgets (http://microsoftgadgets.com/) do not work on a MAC and MAC OSX Widgets to not work on Windows Vista. If we are only considering cross platform widget libraries these are all nixed.
So that leaves us with essentially three choices from before.
Pros and Cons
1) Yahoo! Widget Library
- Good user base already (Konfabulator has been around since 2002-2003)
- Familiar name (for download support)
- Easy to use
- Fairly easy to develop/design (have to learn the XML/DHTML lib of Yahoo Widgets which can be limiting)
- NO VIDEO SUPPORT (videos would have to be linked to)
2) A Flash Desktop App Creator such as MDM ZINC
- Allows Flash to be wrapped with a flexible skinnable application.
- Develop in Flash Actionscript and minimal integration calls
- Supports playing Flash Video FLV
- Each user would need to download the application.
- Would only work when downloading from a trusted site.
3) Adobe Apollo
- Allows cross platform support for one file type .air.
- Develop in Flash Actionscript and minimal integration calls.
- Excellent toolkits and development power.
- Supports playing Flash Video FLV.
- Each user would need to download the Apollo runtime.
- Not out fully yet.
4) Microsoft WPF/E
- Develop in .NET C# or other .NET languages
- Excellent toolkits and development power.
- Each user would need to download the WPF/E runtime.
- Not out fully yet.
- Lack of support for FLV video which has become the Internet standard essentially.
If you had to build an application that would run on the user’s desktop and this application woudl need to support FLV video and be cross platform in terms of Windows and MAC, the choice is down to Adobe Apollo and A Flash Desktop App Creator such as MDM ZINC simply because WPF/E is too large a download currently for the runtime.
Apollo is more of a risk in the interim due to the lack of the Apollo runtime not being propogated but a very large technology company is behind Apollo (Adobe) and in a short time it will be prevalent. Using MDM ZINC the user will still have to download the program to run and does not provide the tools for the desktop as good as Apollo.
My opinion, Apollo might be better for cross platform simple apps that can be widget like or bigger. A smart development might be developing the widget in Flash and then putting it into BOTH Apollo and MDM ZINC to offer users both ways to download only supporting one codebase in the main core application/widget.