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Adobe Flips For New Programming Environment

Adobe Systems  has introduced a new platform that lets programmers develop rich Internet applications that users can interact with on their desktops.

The new client, code-named Apollo, is being previewed at Adobe's MAX 2006 developer conference, along with a next-generation e-book reader, Adobe Digital Editions.

Apollo is part of a broad new strategy that Adobe hopes will encourage developers to create rich Internet content for non-browser-based applications on desktops, laptops and other portable devices.

The client allows developers to use their existing Web development skills, including Flash, Flex, HTML, JavaScript and Ajax, to build and deploy rich Internet applications for the desktop.

Apollo Product Manager Luis Polanco demonstrated an enterprise application built using the Apollo SDK  that contained several online solutions, including separate mapping and calendar functions, that were accessible offline on the desktop.

Adobe hopes that this kind of development will drive demand for other Adobe applications as well as its new e-reader.

"The Apollo client is really a bridge between the desktop and the browser," explained Pam Deziel, director of product marketing for Adobe.

"It offers a new range of things for developers to develop in rich, immersive applications," she told internetnews.com.

Apollo will allow developers to build applications using any combination of those technologies and will also allow integration with PDF documents.

Moreover, developers will be able to continue using whichever integrated development environment (IDE)  they like.

One benefit of this solution, said Deziel, is that users will have access to enriched content even when they are offline, or if they need to access an application that is only available on their desktop or corporate network.

"It gives users the benefits of desktop applications but in a lighter-weight, standards-based form," she said.

Adobe is also hoping to stimulate demand for its other applications, like Flash and Flex to create richer forms of content.

"The name of the game is to provide an environment where creative professionals can go ahead and do their thing," noted Mike Mankowski, senior vice president at Tier 1 Research, a division of research firm the 451Group.

"The more content there is, the better off Adobe is," he told internetnews.com.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company also hopes Apollo can catalyze the creation of rich content appropriate for Adobe Digital Editions.

The software incorporates Flash and other rich media, enabling publishers to create digital publications that go beyond simply making digital versions of paper books.

It is also designed to support a wide range of business models, including ad-supported content.

"It's Google-esque kind of thinking," noted Mankowski. "It's an ad-driven world."

But while the solution has long-term success written all over it, short-term prospects are dimmed because there isn't enough content to support it.

This is where Apollo can come in, because it may encourage publishers to create rich content that is compelling to consume using the new reader.

"They're closing the loop on the entire ecosystem," said Tim Bajarin, president of strategic consulting firm Creative Strategies.

Deziel agreed that the two projects are linked, although she didn't want leave the impression that Apollo was launched to help feed the e-reader.

"The e-book platform is certainly a part of the [Apollo] picture," she said.

Adobe has not announced a formal launch date for Apollo, but said it would make it available in limited release later this year, and make it broadly available sometime in 2007.

There will be no charge for users downloading the client onto their desktops, nor for the SDK used by programmers to develop applications.

A beta of Adobe Digital Editions is available for free download here.

The company expects to make version 1.0 available in early 2007.