Last night was a special Seattle Flex User Group (SeaFlex) meeting, where Christophe Coenraets spoke to us. He talked about Apollo, what it is, why it’s the best thing since sliced bacon and why we should anxiously await it’s release. He had some sample applications he was able to whip up right before our eyes. It was impressive!
Developers that weren’t sure if they should build a web app to take advantage of the centralized server and information, or build a desktop app to take advantage of file access and better ability to work with it on the road – will no longer need to ask that question. Apollo apps can store information when they aren’t connected to a network and sync with the server as soon as they detect connectivity… automatically.
You might still be saying “big deal”. There’s apps that do that already. Well, the other nice thing is that a developer creates the app ONCE and deploys it for use on Windows machines, Macs, etc… No more creating separate builds to run on each platform. It uses Flash Player 9 which takes care of all that behind the scenes.
Another thing I liked was the ability to change the program skin, so you don’t have to have the classic Windows chrome (blue title bar, red X, etc) that all your other applications use. You can specify different chromes, such as transparent. If that wasn’t cool enough, you also aren’t bound to the classic rectangle application box. Potentially, you could make your application contained in a circle, or a star, or a flower, or the shape of Tom Cruise’s head; whatever your creative side tells you is going to sell your application.
Christophe also talked about Flex Data Services, which is the department he works in. He showed a server he wrote that runs off Tomcat and gives users a lot of help getting up and running. It can be found on his blog, specifically, the entry titled “Flex Test Drive Server for Java Developers (Tomcat-based)”. It’s a great tool for someone who wants to integrate Flex with Spring, Hibernate, JMS. Check it out!
There’s a new era of desktop application development coming, and those that don’t know how to develop Flex and Apollo apps will be labeled “old school”.