Mark Anders on Apollo, Flex and WPF

The Register has posted an interview with Mark Anders of Adobe. The article touches on a number of topics, including Flex, WPF, and Apollo. In particular, this quote from Mark caught my eye:

If you look at what Microsoft is doing with WPF, they say it’s really about rich Internet applications but actually, I don’t think it is, because I think rich Internet applications are not about Windows only. I think the Internet is about a multitude of machines and you do not always know what they are.

This idea of Rich Internet Application being by definition cross platform is something I have been thinking about and discussing offline for a while. It seems to me that one of the primary reason RIAs have taken off is that as a developer, you can offer a compelling experience, and not worry about what OS the end user is running. You can just target a platform layer above the operating system (Flash or the browser). Of course, some people argue that this is increasingly making the operating system irrelevant, and for some classes of applications, I believe it is.However, one of the main issues with running applications within the browser is that the application is limited in functionality by the browser and the browser sandbox. For some applications, this is not an issue, but for others it places a significant constraint on the application (for both developers and end users). Apollo, which I work on, aims to address this by allowing developers to use the same development skills they use to target the browser (Flash, Flex, HTML, JavaScript, etc…), to build and deploy those applications to the desktop, and get away from some of the constrains of running within the browser. Thus, you get the advantages of RIAs (easy development model, cross platform), while also being able to take advantage of being on the desktop (access to local resources, first class application experience).I get asked a lot whether I see WPF and WPF/E as directly competing with Apollo. I personally don’t see them as direct competitors. WPF is all about building Windows applications, not cross platform Rich Internet applications. WPF/E is constrained by the limitations of the browser (and Microsoft doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to cross platform plugins and internet clients). Apollo is all about enabling Rich Internet Applications to run on the desktop, while staying true to what make RIAs so attractive in the first place (cross platform, ease of development).Im on vacation right now, so I am not going to drill down on this too much just yet, but I wanted to get a link up to Mark’s interview. (I plan to write more about this soon).You can view the entire article here.via [JD]

8 Responses to Mark Anders on Apollo, Flex and WPF

  1. Although I think Apollo is fanastic, I think part of the issue is people are connecting to webmail / web 2.0 applications from a friends pc, or from a families Apple? I think this is part of the reason the web and browser based applications have become so popular, people don’t want to install software every time they sit on a different PC? I think Apollo should have the ability to allow users to use an Apollo application without having to install the application. (Can it do this currently?) I think that installing Apollo on someone else’s pc isn’t a big ask, but I think installing one or several Apollo applications may be. Just my 2c.CheersGareth.

  2. mike chambers says:

    Yes. Being able to connect to an application from multiple machines can be a very big advantage to deploying to the web.However, there still might be opportunities to have an Apollo version of the same web app (using the same assets), that offers enhanced functionality.Regardless, not every web application is going to make sense as an Apollo application. In some cases it will make sense to either move an app from the browser to Apollo, or provide a browser version, and an Apollo version with enhanced functionality (i.e. access to local resources, work offline, desktop presences, etc…). Since Apollo applications are just built with existing web techologies, you can leverage the same assets and codes in both the browser and apollo versions.mike

  3. “If you look at what Microsoft is doing with WPF, they say it’s really about rich Internet applications but actually, I don’t think it is, because I think rich Internet applications are not about Windows only. I think the Internet is about a multitude of machines and you do not always know what they are.”I agree. WPF is not about RIA’s. It is 100% about desktop apps. WPF/E on the other hand is targeted to be cross-platform (already runs on the Mac in the current CTP) and for RIA’s (or Rich Web Applications; I think is their acronym) specifically. MSFT doesn’t have the best track record, true, but that is their goal.I deal with this question a lot though too. Everyone asks about WPF vs Flash/Flex (which don’t compare) and WPF/E vs Flash/Flex (which is a bit of a closer comparison). Apollo definitely stands out though. The cross-platform abilities make it an amazing tool to work with (cudos to the dev team).BTW, someone may want to touch up Wikipedia regarding the RIA page: Doesn’t MM (I guess Adobe) have the rights to the word. 🙂

  4. Andrew says:

    Mike,So, do you reckon that apollo will enable RIA developers to leverage WPF on Windows and Quartz on OS X for rendering of elements and thus give us hardware accellerated UI?That would be cool…Andrew

  5. I agree with John, comparing WPF to Apollo/Flash is like comparing a ferrari to a hyundai(no offense Adobe). But the reality of the matter is that WPF is a million times more robust and extensive than perhaps Apollo/Flash will ever be. Having said that. WPF/E on the other hand seems to be something that can compete with Flash in the browser, even though I personally think Flash has a lot more benefits than WPF/E. Apollo is obviously inferior to WPF which when you really think about it, the only advantage to using Apollo vs WPF is that Apollo is cross platform.Like Gareth, mentioned earlier, isn’t the fact the people do NOT want to install apps and would just rather go to a URL, the way the web is moving? Why is it then that Adobe, insist upon going against this populist movement. I understand why Microsoft would want to push development tools that help keep their position as a monopoly in the desktop space. But what is Adobe’s motivation? It seems to me that the more prudent business decision that Adobe can make is to concentrate on making the experience on the web as good or even better than the experience that Microsoft is offering with WPF in Vista across all browsers and platforms. While Apollo has some great ideas and marvelous enhancements, things that a lot of hardcore Flash developers have wanted for years, these things should be happening in the browser and not in the desktop. Time will tell if this decision by Adobe proves to be an intelligent one, but I would not bet on it.

  6. Riyaz Prasla says:

    Does Apollo make use of graphics hardware for rendering?Riyaz PraslaIDV Solutions

  7. gixx says:

    Crazy this Apollo technology. Question: Will Apollo support/allow to create Server Sockets on a client machine?Greetings from Greece.George

  8. Scott Barnes says:

    WPF can be in some ways compared to Flash but of course to those users out there that have .NET 3.0 installed prior to visiting the site (much like Flash Player I guess).Don’t forget with the .XBAP you can run them inside a browser – security contexts apply to calm the security folks out there – but its different to WPF/e in terms of featuresets. It isn’t X-Platform compatible so to underpin Gareths point, yes folks can run WPF applications from anywhere provided they have .NET 3.0 installed (again simliar ruleset as Flash Platform only sorry to Linux/OSX folks out there).Is it ideal for the web – depends on your outlook (heh no pun intended) – given the majority of desktop PC’s around the world use Windows and under 10% collectively use OSX/Linux, you do the math on reach vs depth.I’d declare WPF a candidate for RIA for sure. Different strokes for different folks though :)Scott BarnesDeveloper Evangelist,Microsoft.