May 25, 2007

When kuler and Apollo collide...

A few months ago, Adobe released an alpha of Apollo on the Adobe Labs website. Some developers are certainly excited about what Apollo will mean moving forward, but I have to admit that I'm often bombarded with people wanting to know what Apollo actually is. My response that Apollo is a desktop runtime environment that allows developers to build RIA's (Rich Internet Applications) using Flash, Flex, Ajax, HTML, and JavaScript.

Usually, the response I get is a variant of "huh?" (although one person did actually respond "oh yeah, that's what I thought" and then that person turned and walked straight into a wall).

Of course, one of the best ways to really describe something is to actually SHOW it, rather than try to describe it. So do you want to see something cool?

Adobe has just released an Apollo RIA that allows you to access kuler (the online web community around color). To use it, you must have the Apollo runtime installed (currently in Alpha). If you're familiar with Widgets in Mac OS X's Dashboard, or Gadgets in Windows Vista, an RIA is similar in some ways, only it runs right on your desktop (not within a shell like Dashboard for example). RIA's are also cross-platform, so by definition, the Apollo kuler app works on both Mac and Windows.

RIAs can be developed in a variety of ways and can take any shape, which is certainly evident when you see the Apollo kuler app.



What's exciting about all of this is that Apollo is only in Alpha -- can't wait to see what the future holds in this regard, and what other cool apps we'll be seeing!

:) Mordy

10 comments:

Teri Pettit said...

Here's how I'd describe it in a sound bite for non-geeks:

You're probably all familiar by new with all the cool interactive Flash web sites that feel more like being in a gaming environment than scrolling through an old-fashioned html browser window, right? But, bottom line, those dynamic web sites are still packaged inside an old-fashioned clunky browser window, with Back and Next buttons and everything, which makes them feel like going to a web site, not like using an application.

What Apollo does is act sort of like a windowless browser. As an application, it doesn't have any "footprint" of its own the way a browser does. It's completely invisible on its own. It lets the same kind of interactive internet technologies that web developers are already using put up their own little specialized (and potentially non-rectangular, unframed) windows and widgets, so that to the user they feel just like stand-alone applications, but all the code except for the Apollo runtime client is hosted on an external web service, just like it is when you play a Flash game in a browser.

And like a browser, there are versions for different operating systems, so that the developers don't have to worry about writing for Vista or writing Mac OS dashboard widgets. They write platform-neutral scripts, almost exactly the same way they already do for the web.

Anonymous said...

This whole spiel reminds me of the David Cross routine about square bagels--change the shape of an ancient product and let some marketing drones try to convince the public it's something new and exciting that they can't live without. It's more of a branding campaign than anything anybody actually needs or wants.

How is the kuler user experience improved by having an eyeglass lens shaped border? How will this cross platform runtime compete against Dashboard's ability to support inter-application communications via Objective-C based bundles (and I'd assume Windows offers something similar)? Will enough people feel that it is worth the effort for them to download and install some obscure utility that allows them to run a web application, or will it make more sense to simply run a web application in a web browser the way they have been for years? How well will Adobe keep up on all the various security vulnerabilities this runtime will doubtlessly bring with it (the CS3 installer already forces ports open your firewall without warning or permission, so confidence levels are pretty low at the moment)?

These pet projects look good on a résumé, but user inertia is a powerful force, and this just doesn't strike me as being useful enough to combat it.

Also, unless every single application will have a full copy of the runtime embedded within its heap, it's pretty much impossible for there to be no "shell" or "footprint" orchestrating the platform specific event tracking somewhere. The kuler widget does seem to require over 60MB of physical memory and 10% of my processor cycles to sit there doing absolutely nothing, so maybe that really is how it works.

Woz said...

I remember this real-world Apollo project: Ebay. There's also a video demo online:
http://www.adobe.com/devnet/videos/apollo_demo07/index.html

jimHere said...

I mentioned elsewhere that html is still a bit more usable. Sites like http://colorblender.com/ and http://www.colourlovers.com/palettes/top are very helpful as html gizmos.
Teri Pettit said: "...those dynamic web sites are still packaged inside an old-fashioned clunky browser window..."
Kuler is nice and works, but you have to sit through those annoying easing tweens and fades. Plus if it's a desktop app, why does it open into web pages for the details (With the samples I listed above, you're already in a browser)?
It's good to have a physically small app to copy hex colors from (does it drag? The widget version does, but it's in widget land). A smart person recently made a free hex color picker: http://wafflesoftware.net/hexpicker/ so we'll see which works best.
Kuler does look good, though. But Illustrator and PS and ID have great color pickers as it is. Maybe the guys are bored in San Jose...

Anonymous said...

OT and found throuhg the MM weblogs

http://www.downloadsquad.com/2007/05/23/dear-adobe-what-the-hell-happened-to-you/

It worries me that adobe is getting this perception. Some of the comments are unfair/untrue and those corel users are like a virus. But still, it worries me adobe is getting closer to MS to the public eye.

Gary Spedding, Ph.D. said...

Mordy,

Do you have any clout with Illustrator Techniques magazine?

They are not currently taking new subscriptions and from what I see, from their open forums, are not doing a good (timely) job with mailing the magazines to current subscribers. You would figure that their business plan would have gleaned the potential for such a magazine (NAPP has 50,000 members!) and how best to poise themselves for the onslaught.

While Illustrator does not have the pull of Photoshop this is a sorry state of affairs for a fledgling business.

Maybe someone new needs to take them over?

Anonymous said...

Apollo has some very interesting possibilities. I also look to the future to see what develops.

I must also admit, I was very disappointed that Kuler themes cannot be imported into Flash CS3...

Anonymous said...

look for the kuler extension for flash at macromedia weblogs

Anonymous said...

Hi, Found a cool news widget for our blogs at www.widgetmate.com. Now I can show the latest news on my blog. Worked like a breeze.

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