Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Eagle has Landed at 601 Townsend St.

I spent last night at Adobe's Apollo Camp. The Apollo Camp was about exposing a group of developers to the (almost) latest build of Apollo; introducing some partner apps and the insights and clever tricks these apps have already spawned; and letting us meet, chat, question, and occasionally argue with the guys who build Flash, Flex, and Apollo.

Since this is a commentary blog, I'll let the tech news blogs cover all the great content that was presented last night. Much of it is probably in the blogosphere by now; a lot more is due to be released by Adobe via Labs very soon.

Apollo is going to be an important and prominent platform. It's not perfect (Adobe certainly doesn't claim it is right now either), and the truth is it doesn't actually do all that much. But it is a kind of fabulous connective glue for the front end. Metaphorically it reminds me of OLE/COM/ActiveX in its desktop ambitions. It's not defined to be a desktop object bus per se, but it's way easier to use, and it's cross platform. It is also reminiscent of web services and RSS in the middleware realm, in that it provides a connective mechanism simple enough but expressive enough to throw the door open for all sorts of creative mixing and mashing and integrating fun.

It's interesting that we're at this juncture with Adobe/Macromedia poised to leap into the RIA lead with this tech. Credit is due to some long-range strategic thinking. For example, we were told that Flash player has for years now been designed as an express install vector for Apollo. And moving to from AS2 to AS3 reminds me of the bold but necessary move from VB6 to that Microsoft took in '01.

More than a little is owed to luck, or lucky timing, as well: without the evolution of Agile and TDD, leading to effective development practices with dynamic languages (and popular day-to-day AJAX, Ruby, and Flash apps as a result), it would be hard to imagine a bright future for desktop apps built on ActionScript. But these things have come to pass, and AS3/Flash9/Flex/Apollo/Tamarin has shown up at just the right place, and just the right time.

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