Adobe's upcoming Apollo runtime engine (hands-on look at Apollo) will be an important platform for Web and software developers, since it lets programmers create applications that work equally well online and off, and also across computing platforms. At the moment, Apollo requires developers to use Adobe's tools. It's a platform primarily for applications written in Flash or Flex, both Adobe products. But that's going to change.
Renamed AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime), the product previously known as Apollo will change from being a runtime for Adobe products to being a runtime for any Web application, even one written in nothing but HTML. Web publishers and developers will be able to make their Web pages into standalone apps when using Apollo.
Using optional Adobe (in other words, non-standard) extensions to HTML, these apps will also have access to Apollo's data synchronization functions, so they'll work when offline. Also, Apollo apps, regardless of language, will be able to use some of the fancy user interface tricks in Flash and Flex, like the capability to blur the background when a dialog box pops up in the foreground.
The tool should ship before the end of the year.
Microsoft's competing Silverlight runtime, in contrast, does not have the offline or synchronization capabilities of Apollo, but as with Apollo, it does enable developers to build fancy connected applications using tools they are probably already familiar with.
In related news, Adobe's Flex development platform is going open source. Last week we reported that another major Web platform, Movable Type, was opening up.
See also Adobe Apollo platform goes beta, on News.com.