Adobe offers early peek at Apollo

"Alpha" version of Apollo, which can run Web applications offline, is one of a handful of emerging Web development platforms.

Adobe Systems on Monday released an early version of Apollo, software that will let people run Web applications online and offline.

The first release is an "alpha" version, with a beta due sometime this summer. Version 1.0 is planned for the second half of this year.

The early version of Apollo is aimed primarily at Web designers and programmers. The free download will include a software development kit and the "runtime" software for running Apollo applications.

Apollo is designed to bridge the world of Web applications and desktop computers. Applications written for Apollo function like normal Web applications but act like locally installed software. For example, Apollo applications will have an icon that shows up on a computer desktop and will be able to automatically reconnect when a computer gets online.

"This is a great runtime environment for (Web) applications...that are used more frequently or where people want more interaction with local data," said Kevin Lynch, chief software architect and senior vice president of Adobe's platform business unit.

Once the software is made more widely available, users can download a runtime to their desktop PCs to run Apollo applications, much like people need a Flash Player to run Flash Web animations.

The release of the software is highly anticipated among people who develop so-called rich Internet applications, meaning Web applications that have some of the interactivity of traditional desktop applications.

There are a growing number of alternatives for building cross-platform rich Internet applications, including Adobe's Flash, Ajax, Microsoft's Windows Presentation Foundation/Everywhere and OpenLaszlo.

The alpha download of Apollo will run on Windows and Macintosh. It will allow people to use HTML, JavaScript and Flash programming and display Adobe's PDF format. An edition for Linux is also planned after the Windows and Mac versions.

Lynch noted that Adobe's upcoming Creative Suite 3, slated for release later this month, will also allow people to create Apollo content because Adobe has created more integration between applications such as Illustrator and its Dreamweaver Web development program.

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