Friday, June 22, 2007

Google Gears Vs Adobe Apollo ??

Overtly dramatic title, aye??? The whole world is talking about Adobe Integrated Runtime (started the buzz as Apollo) and Google Gears. So, why shouldn't we too talk about that. In one of the blogs written by Adobe employees I found an earnest but futile attempt to sell a product that no doubt has elegance and finesse but falls flat when it comes to value proposition it offers.

I have nothing against Gears or AIR, they are working towards the same cause as we are but I still consider them as a different league altogether. They don't share the same philosophy and certainly not the same route to a common goal that we are all trying to achieve.

The Common Goal

Suddenly there has been a sharp rise in offline applications, RIA platforms, AJAX, Web 2.0 etc. And thanks to Google and Adobe, people are taking it seriously. The common goal is to provide a desktop based Rich Internet Applications platform, that allows applications to run in offline mode and have the flexibility to sync-up when online.

This would ensure a lot of end-user control on the applications making them more interactive and usable by the ever growing Internet user community. All the major players have acknowledged this sudden trend as an important and necessary step towards growing their market share and are fiercely competing to outrun their contemporaries.

Identifying the Best Way to this goal

There is still a bit of a disarray as a standard has not yet been formed and all the players in the market wish (along with working hard on it) that their's becomes the de facto standard. Who will win the race will be largely dependent on who comes out with a simple and yet robust idea, crosses the threshold visibility early enough and offers a value proposition that no one can deny being genuine.

AIR talks about providing yet another runtime, after JRE and .NET, to be installed on our machines and then to be maintained version after version after version. They are have ignored the importance of browser based application by writing it off as :

...runtime environment that allows you to use existing web technology for apps on the desktop is an obvious next step from building desktop like Ajax applications that seem to be awkwardly confined to a browser window. (Ryan)

Also, their focus remains strongly on making elegant UI simpler to create. But to what end are they pursuing this simplicity beats me. What makes an application worthy is its business proposition, functionality, ease of deployment and availability. These are the issues one has to focus even while providing a platform for end-users. Or a platform that focuses on making online stuff available offline. Both developers and end-users appreciate the need of having offline environments but how far is making classy UI building platforms going to help them. That is something I have strong doubts about.

The only thing that they talk about which makes sense to me is using existing web technologies. Taking away the pain of going through an entirely new learning curve. Incorporating GWT is also a wise decision and even using Flex can enhance the applications' look and feel but trying to belittle the importance of browser might become a cause to regret later. A hint at that is, Adobe's Acrobat Reader and Flash have both been plugged in to the browsers which enhanced their popularity.

Gears as of now, according to me, is playing it too easy and making things slightly more dicey. Even though a noble concept, it doesn't sound like a fully thought through one.

The configuration has to be taken care of by the end-user or developer, a database support is required just to cache resources and provides no other flexibility. The entire sites would require to be re-written using gears api in order to be made available offline. There is no duplication, yet the decision for making content available offline has to be made at the time of designing the site and it certainly doesn't sound the best solution for making offline availability possible for websites.

Gears is just a tool for creating applications.There is no platform as such that might take away the housekeeping pains and let the developers focus on just building applications. The framework sounds 'just ok'.

Road Ahead

I would rank AIR much superior than Gears in terms of utility and flexibility. However, both of them have to understand that it's the end-user and then the developers who are governing the market today. You can't simply make things sell just because you are huge brand name. There has to be something special and long lasting to make it big on the popularity list.


Beyond WWW said...

Quite a piece of upload!!

Rob F_ing Base said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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