Sunday, April 1, 2007

Industry View: What's Up with Adobe Apollo?

Last month I found myself at a Adobe user's group presentation on Adobe Apollo. I went because I was looking for a Flash developer to help out with some work on a web project. The presentation I saw was from a group called Effective UI. They were demoing a proof-of-concept front-end for eBay built in Apollo.

There were some things I found really interesting about the meeting.
  1. Effective UI is moving out of some very nice offices, because they have grown so quickly in the last year. I guess demand for UI work in Flash and Flex is soaring. There must be some market momentum around these tools. I had thought of Flash as a space for one-off contract developers, but now there are teams of people working on fairly complex applications.
  2. From about 20 people, the group was divided into about a third from Effective UI, a third from another local company called photobucket, and a third miscellaneous Flash / Flex / ColdFusion developers. (Everyone was very nice to me, even after they found out I work primarily in C#). As a group, they seemed youthful, energetic, and smart. It reminded me a little of the groups attending Microsoft presentations about 10 years ago. They understood things about graphics and presentation layer issues that few of today's business developers binding row after row of data into grids understand.
  3. Apollo is going to set Adobe head-to-head on a collision with Microsoft in the developer tool space. Its cross-platform, runs rich-client applications, and has a decent IDE leveraging Eclipse. If I had to build a rich-client application to run on Windows and Mac, I would probably have to at least think about Apollo.
  4. No one at the meeting knew (or would discuss) what the Apollo run-time distribution vehicle would be, but I'd like to venture a guess. If I was a program manager at Adobe, I'd want it bundled with the Flash Player. All the browsers distribute it anyway, and even Microsoft might have trouble distributing a browser which doesn't support Flash.

I was looking for a Flash or Flex developer, so I announced that twice at the meeting. I only got one card back for a salesperson at Effective UI. I guess everyone at the meeting was already pretty busy and not looking for extra work...