Apple finally goes RIA

Apple finally goes RIA

Summary: I shouldn't say finally. The writing has been on the wall forever but most people couldn't figure out what the writing said.


I shouldn't say finally. The writing has been on the wall forever but most people couldn't figure out what the writing said. It turns out it has a name, SproutCore, an open source Javascript framework that has been getting some buzz because it may be powering the Mobile Me suite of applications from Apple soon.

There's a big, long, sometimes hard to read post on RoughlyDrafted that dives into a bunch of Apple vs Adobe vs Microsoft vs Sun vs Google scenarios with the central topic being that SproutCore is Apple's Flash killer. So what is SproutCore?

There are a couple of demos that actually ran pretty terribly on my Mac in Camino. Most of the news and following blog posts seem to come from a single session at WWDC that talked about SproutCore. The RoughlyDrafted post seems to imply that Apple will be supporting the SproutCore project. Could we see something like we have with WebKit? The SproutCore blog doesn't mention anything like that which I can see. But the creator, Charles Jolley, was hired as part of the .Mac team so I guess that means that Apple has acquired the framework.

So Apple now has a bunch of pieces to put together a real HTML/Javascript RIA push. They have the platform: Safari (Mac/iPhone/Windows), the framework: SproutCore, the multimedia: Quicktime/H.264, and the tools. If you want to start delivering RIAs and you want people to start building RIAs on your platform, that's pretty much what you need. But I'm not fully convinced this is a platform play for Apple. They don't seem to want massive developer adoption (note the miniscule 1.5% acceptance rate for the iPhone dev program) but rather a way to deploy online applications that can mesh with the Apple brand.

I think we're at a very interesting time in RIA. I've long considered Javascript and HTML a part of the RIA stack, but the places we're seeing Javascript and HTML have become more prevalent. I think we're reaching a point where the issue isn't so much "who wins the RIA war" as "who can deliver the best stuff on their platform". RIA is a big, big deal. It's arguably the future of application deployment. Flash used to be the only technology that could really meet user expectation as we moved from the desktop to the browser. But it's scary for companies like Microsoft, Google, or Apple to be tied to a technology like Flash that they don't own. So everyone saw the end goal - RIAs - and took different paths. There's still some wrestling for developer mindshare but we're quickly moving into a world of "what can I build" which I think is a great state to be in for RIA enthusiasts everywhere.

Topic: Apple

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  • Please convince me.

    How can RIA and privacy coexist? I mean, the same people who are delusional about the patriot act live on myspace, youtube, and facebook where privacy is valueless.
    • RE: Please convince me.

      I'm not sure I get the link. Do you mean "life in the cloud" and privacy? I'm not sure they can coexist.
  • i like

    its a great start, I think Apple is going in right direction.
    • How so?

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
  • RE: Apple finally goes RIA

    This is exciting stuff, but I think you're slipping into your
    Flash Evangelist role in a somewhat underhanded way.
    Correct me if I'm wrong.

    You said: "But the creator, Charles Jolley, was hired as part
    of the .Mac team so I guess that means that Apple has
    acquired the framework."

    This basically implies that SproutCore is just another
    proprietary RIA platform, even though you state earlier that
    it is open source. You're the developer: can you not
    examine the source code and see whether or not Apple
    owns the majority of copyrights?

    I realize that this innuendo (subtle as it is) might be due to
    mere laziness and sloppy work rather than malevolent
    intentions. But you need to ask yourself: Can you, as an
    Adobe Employee and Official Flash Evangelist, be fair and
    objective in your blog? Isn't this a duty you owe to your
    employers at ZDnet and your readers? Mightn't you want to
    go out of your way to avoid even the appearance of
    favoritism, spreading of disinformation, etc.?

    Sorry if this is harsh. FWIW, I haven't even read the Roughly
    Drafted piece because I've gotten tired of Eran's hardcore
    Apple advocacy. But at least one knows where he is
    coming from.
    Marcos El Malo
    • The comment filetering s/w has to go

      It censored the word <a
      d + core</a>.

      Ridiculous. Should I have used the word "passionate" or the
      phrase "deeply committed"?
      Marcos El Malo
      • it even censors words within links!!

        Someone tell the webmaster to take hardcore off the list and
        do a general review of their filters.
        Marcos El Malo
    • RE: RE: Apple finally goes RIA

      I think I've been pretty evenhanded with all of the RIA technologies. I'm just really excited about moving the web forward in terms of user experience and development productivity.

      But as to the question of SproutCore being a proprietary framework, it's open source, so even though Apple has hired the main developer, anyone can take it and use it. And it's been released under the MIT license so it's pretty liberal.
  • RE: Apple finally goes RIA

    Exciting times, indeed! And disregard the sour apples from
    folks who think that objectivity means infallibility and a
    complete scrubbing of all reference to your Adobe gig. Your
    voice is clear, cogent, & much-appreciated. With all the
    blogfog out there around platforms, RIA, and tech in general,
    it's nice to have a voice that's tempered with genuine
    enthusiasm for - and intelligent analysis of - the industry.
    • RE: RE: Apple finally goes RIA

      Thanks for the encouragement! I do try to be as unbiased as possible. Adobe doesn't always do good things and a lot of other companies are doing cool stuff. I just want to see more interesting RIAs.
  • "Open" Ends with Markets

    The Roughly Drafted piece did politicize this more than was
    necessary and your piece did not. The only thing that needs
    to be fully open is the marketplace itself. as long as it is,
    open and closed technologies can coexist. A truly open
    internet is the one that is inclusive of other closed
    Harry Bardal
  • RE: Apple finally goes RIA

    <<(note the miniscule 1.5% acceptance rate for the iPhone
    dev program)>>

    Is there some anti-Apple bias in your report??

    You should already know that this percentage is the
    number of developers accepted for the Beta test of the
    iPhone program. AFAIK, Apple is accepting all developers
    now that the SDK has been released.

    Or am I mistaken?
    • RE: RE: Apple finally goes RIA

      Nope, you're not mistaken, and they are accepting everyone. But I don't remember if it takes anything to get your app added to the iPhone store.

      I just thought that 1.5% was a very tiny number, even for a beta SDK. I think Apple tends to be fairly exclusive, and that's the reason, but I'm not sure Apple's strategy is to primarily get a bunch of developers. I think they more want good apps they can make money off of.

      Then again, there's nothing like making a small amount on a ton of little apps either.

      No intended bias, just thoughts.
  • Javascript is a deadend

    I don't think SproutCore is much better than lots of existing Javascript Framework out there. Apple should develop a plugin that runs Cocoa inside a browser.
  • I guess if you know what RIA stands for...

    I guess if you know what RIA stands for, this post would be a good one. Don't you guys have an Editor any more?