Well, not quite, but (hopefully) we are getting closer.
I have been following closely on the progress of Apollo and whatever news I could find on inroads it makes in different types of applications. It seems that more people who are lucky to get their hands on it are switching from Web applications to disconnected or partially disconnected ones ( http://www.onflex.org/ted/2006/09/svn-client-with-flashnetsocket-in.php is a good example). In other words, we are moving to desktop applications again – this time desktop 2.0. As history repeats itself, let us recap.
Desktop 1 arrived as intelligent and jazzy replacement of mainframe terminal. Terminal emulation has been major function within the first 10 years of Desktop 1 era. Few “killer apps” (1-2-3 and WordStar) changed the way people see computers. You could own your private data. And on the way, new set of technologies named client-server emerged – reflecting relationship between the new and the old. The main selling point of that was the ease of opening up server data to the end-user. And it did – taking away terminals and mainframe UI along the way
The server world fought back – we had 10 years of JEE and semi-intelligent browser terminals
We are getting really close to “client-web” revolution – this time making all the data in the world available and personal in the same time. The trick is to remake all killer applications of the past in a different context. In case of word processor or spreadsheet for me collaboration and privacy are more important then spellchecker (and it probably shows).
Here is what I think the game is going to be. Making application development simplier will get us half way there. From a personal experience, I believe that a small team of developers can create any “Office” component in Apollo before it ships. The other half is to put end-user in charge of “experience” they want. Here is an example – a lot of browser handicaps were “fixed” by toolbars and components. Making RIA platform and applications capable of cross-integration is going to be vital.
This month we will finally start releasing commercial products for RIA platform. I can only assume from what I see and hear that quite a few others are on the verge of product delivery. If you have interest in making Flex/Flash/Apollo platform succeed, you better get cranking on the next killer desktop app.
PS. I am starting small pet project on Flex virtualization. Quite often we need preconfigured server/application (not just Tomcat, but mySQL, certain messaging, workflow, etc products) to be available to the clients or people going through training here at the company. I was thinking of VMWare nano-vm appliance that could be dropped on any desktop or server for instant deployment. If you have similar requirements and would like to participate, please drop me a line – we can always use good developers and beta testers.