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Adobe to release Apollo code to developers

Adobe Systems will give developers a free preview of its forthcoming runtime code-named Apollo on Monday by releasing an alpha version of the technology on its Adobe Labs' site.

The technology allows rich internet applications to run offline, and could threaten the popularity of programming platforms such as Java and Microsoft's .NET, Adobe says.

Developers can download the technology for free from the Adobe Labs site. The release includes a free software development kit that provides a set of command line tools to develop and work with Apollo applications. Web developers can use the Integrated Development Environment of their choice to build applications for the runtime, Adobe says.

Apollo, like the Flash Player, is a runtime, but one in which applications built using standard internet development technologies -- such as HTML, Flash and AJAX -- can run offline.

Kevin Lynch, senior vice president and chief software architect for Adobe, says the alpha release will let developers use Adobe Flash, Adobe's Flex tool and HTML to build applications, but won't have all the functionality of the full release, which is expected in the second half of the year.

"There is still some functionality we want to add to Apollo but we feel it's far enough along so people can build on it and experiment," he says.

The alpha release will include support for AJAX, though the technology will be "refined" before the last release of Apollo, Lynch says.

Apollo will not be the final name of the runtime, though Lynch said Adobe has not decided what that will be yet.

With Apollo, Adobe seems to be making a run at Microsoft by giving users an alternative for building web-based applications that can also run on the desktop independent of a browser. Microsoft, too, has been ramping up its own strategy to give developers tools for building web applications, but it has been trying to tie those applications to its Windows desktop OS and development environment.

Indeed, Lynch says Adobe and Microsoft are trying to solve similar problems, but approaching it from two different directions.

"What we're really focused on is to enable the web to have a greater presence on the desktop, so as a web developer you can create your application and have it be installable on the desktop," he says. "We're bringing the web to the desktop."