what you describe, is a mess not an environment.
Sunday 10 September 2006 @ 9:49 pm
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Sometimes a simple one liner found deep down in some active message forum thread is worth a seperate blog entry.

> Apollo is cross-platform desktop technology mix that
> allows you use Flex/xHTML/Ajax/PDF on desktop, use
> filesystem, DBs, networking and so forth.

“what you describe, is a mess not an environment.”

This quote, coming from (yet another) Javalobby discussion about the future of java on the desktop, hits the nail right on the spot. Due to the lack of a decent environment for application distribution we’re trying to fullfil the needs of richness with a mess of browser techniques that make application development look ancient again. We have spoiled our end users with the most fabulous human-being to machine interfaces and meanwhile, due to some rediculous narrowminded views on how end-users are allowed to access applications (actually do their job), we have been selling ‘no, sorry, not possible, technically unattainable’ for too many years. And instead of looking at a feasible solution for this problem, which indeed must be found in an environment and not in a trick, we keep on messing around with whatever technique as long as it is applicable within a browser. At this years JavaOne, Aerith has shown what is possible. The future of Java on the desktop is not a question, it is an idle void waiting to be filled. Maybe it is time to replace the internet browser for the sake of richness?

— By Okke van 't Verlaat     PermaLink

3 Responses to “what you describe, is a mess not an environment.”

  1. Waldo Smeets Says:

    Ha, interesting view on something that I have been following for quite a while from an internal point of view (I work for Adobe, where this Apollo project is being developed).

    I really think it’s too early to judge whether this is a mess (I understand where the author is coming from) or whether it’s a great idea (what’s bad about combining the best of different worlds into a single platform, as long as the integration is seemless and you are not confronted with the weaker parts of each technology?). Let’s first see what the Apollo team comes up with and then decide whether it’s good or not ;-)

    In general I strongly believe - and luckely some of your colleagues at LogicaCMG are with me - that Adobe Flex is heading into the right direction (feature wise and prise wise - a lot is free to use). If it’s two main weaknesses (HTML rendering and document security) can be solved by ‘borrowing’ from other techniques, then why not? However, to really judge this you first should play and understand the powers and weakness of Adobe Flex by yourself ;-)

  2. Okke Says:

    Waldo, don’t get me wrong. I’m not judging about Adobe products, I’m identifying the ridiculous gap between what end-users want, what current technology offers and how the two are ending up in a mess. Indeed, Flex is heading in the right direction. (At least it is much better than home brewing javascript). Just like GWT is also heading in the right direction. I think both technologies are great for distributing (small) apps (like a hotel reservation system) to internet users. But both technologies are inferior compared with regular desktop clients when taking richness into account. And that is exactly the reason I suggest to take a look outside the browser when richness is a key requirement. Just take a look at google earth. There is a reason this is implemented as a downloadable desktop application.

  3. Waldo Smeets Says:

    Hi Okke, I absolutely agree with you and that’s also exactly the reason why we are working on Apollo now. Google earth type of applications are definitily the types of applications that we are trying to support with with Flex and Apollo. Here Apollo would only function for the local disk access, which is not supported inside the browser - I am pretty sure that the rest is feasible inside the Flash Player 9, no need for combined HTML or PDF rendering here.

    It would be like Yahoo Maps beta (http://maps.yahoo.com/beta) on steroids (because of the better Flex 2 performance, and our developers still have some wild ideas on the shelves ;-) ).

    When looking at areas where traditional desktop tools are inferior to browsers and even Apollo, it defenitely is deep ‘low level’ integration and control; both the .NET framework as well as the JRE provide much more control at this level.

    Especially Microsoft with it’s Vista and .NET 3 platform is to be watched in this area. Where Adobe is moving from the web onto the desktop, Microsoft is trying very hard to do the opposite by adding more web features to .NET client applications (and beats Adobe at some places and some not). And of course they integrate it with their .NET backends.

    Flex might actually be the answer to this for Java developers, as I don’t see Java itself develiver the same richness on the client for the majority of clientside applications.

    Anyway, long discussion and I think in general we agree :)

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