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InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

September 4, 2007

5 Min Read

RIA and Offline

This is the second time I have written about Adobe, but I have to truly say they are getting it right. Recently they released Flex 3.0 and Air. Now developers can use Flex to create rich internet applications (RIA) with desktop-like functionality in the browser. With Air, developers can take their experience offline: this is the Holy Grail everyone wanted, but could not deliver. But the fun, vision, and magic does not stop there, Adobe is adding some new and exciting functionality to its development tools and application environment that will allow developers to take the power into their own hands and create applications that will help their customers become more productive, efficient, and connected. The story of Enterprise 3.0 will not be the vendor creating applications, but rather it will be about custom applications that businesses create with exceptional development tools. This blog includes a description of additional functionality to RIA and offline capabilities that will make up the developer tool kit of the future.

+ P2P

With Adobe’s acquisition of Amicima, they will be able to add Peer-to-Peer (P2P) and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) capabilities. With the addition of Amicima and the use of AIR’s offline capabilities, developers should be able to create P2P applications where users can not only have online access through a central server, but they could also choose to instant message, email, and share files and data directly with other users without a central server. Communication would be done from PC to PC, and data would be replicated from one user’s PC to another. This is a very powerful capability if you are building an application that requires security or if you want to save the user from paying monthly fees.


Skype uses P2P functionality for VOIP, and several other bloggers have commented that Adobe’s acquisition of Amicima could position them as Skype’s biggest competitor. Adding VOIP to Flex and Flash would further enhance a user’s experience. With VOIP integration, users would not only be able to call each other from a browser, but they would have a much richer VOIP client with AIR. The vision of unified collaboration would no longer be a vision that only companies or developers with deep pockets could afford. Using Adobe’s tools, developers would be able to build their own VOIP application that includes Skype-like functionality applied to a specific business process. Adobe is already making plans to deliver VOIP capabilities with its release of Flash player 10, and I am sure we are not far from more enhanced VOIP capabilities.

+ Web Conference

Adobe's Acrobat Connect and Connect Pro are Adobe’s web conference tool, which currently is very expensive, but has rapidly grown in market share. Much of Adobe connects capabilities are also found in the Flash Media Player. In my previous blog, I listed several projects that already have started to build their own web conference tools with Flash. The one seminal part that is missing as part of the Flash Media Player, which Adobe has not released, is the ability to do desktop sharing. If Adobe releases this functionality in Flash, then developers will be able to build fancy and affordable custom real-time collaboration systems. Adding real time web conferencing to custom enterprise applications would help developers come steps closer to the enterprise 3.0 experience, where not only asynchronous collaboration is possible, but synchronous collaboration becomes a part of the every day work process and a dominating capability for virtual teams to collaborate and improve their productivity and efficiency.

+ 3D

The final capability I think is the coolest is the 3D rendering capability in Flash and Flex. Developers have already started creating 3D multi-player environments where multiple people can be online at the same time and collaborate virtually with each other in a 3D environment. Some examples of this include: (1) ISO Interactive’s Chamber of Chat, a 3D world for Harry Potter Fans and (2) Outsmarts 3D Room.

Building 3D environments in Flash and Flex allows people to experience Second Life-like abilities in a browser without being required to install a client. The only problem is that rich 3D capability and the number of multi-players in a flash browser is limited, but with the addition of AIR and, hopefully soon, P2P, this limitation will be removed. Consequently, in the near future we may see the development of 3D team workspaces not only limited to Second Life, but we may see more of a 3D integrated environment build for a specific business application.

= Enterprise 3.0

Hopefully by now I have been able to create a vision of the development tools that developers will soon have in the future which will allow them to create Enterprise 3.0 applications. I can imagine a CRM application that is cross platform, has a rich internet interface, and is available offline for Mac, Windows, and Linux users. Users would not have to pay monthly hosting fees, because they would be connected to a peer-to-peer network. Additionally, real time collaboration would be enabled within the CRM tool for users to call customers, share presentations, and collaborate on RFP’s without leaving their application. Finally, search, team meetings, and socializing would be conducted in a 3D environment where users would be able to work remotely but feel like they are in the same room with colleagues. All this power and capability is made available to developers who can easily apply to a business application. Enterprise 3.0 will give the developers the power to create the tools their customers need. Why buy when you can easily build? No more yearly maintenance and upgrade protection fees. Reinvest money back into people and the company. This will be the mantra for the Enterprise 3.0 era.

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