More responses to comments as I struggle to communicate -- I am glad to be receiving these comments because maybe there are things I am not getting, and maybe there are things I am not communicating effectively.
"visit the URL of the Apollo/Flex application. What, I need a plugin!" -- ok, then, what is the URL of your firefox executable? Actually the URL of the Flex / Apollo application, if you want one, can be on the web.
More important, however, is to recognize the Flex or Apollo app's URL is not as important as the URLs of the *resources* that app consumes. Especially since those resources can, and should, be fully restful, and so any app can access them.
One more time: Flex / Apollo apps can access *restful* services. Nothing about those services is specific to the Flex / Apollo runtimes. Take or develop any *restful* service and access them in any capable client. Flex / Apollo is just one specific set of components that can access these via URIs. It's just that once you use Flex / Apollo then that client "engine" is much easier to develop and much more expressive for the user than is a current Ajax toolkit. That is all I am saying.
"proprietary runtimes - that do not have the reach ordinary HTML, CSS, and JS do" -- well..
- Flex / Apollo to me are *signposts* of the future for building these apps.
- Flex / Apollo are becoming *more* open with hints of that continuing.
- Apollo specifically supports all these, just like any other browser. Both support CSS. Actionscript is JS-like. (I am not crazy about the AS extensions, but oh well.)
- Apollo apps can have HTML *or* Flex components. And the one can embed the other as desired. This is often overlooked I have found. Apollo uses the same open HTML components as Safari.
"what's planned for Firefox 3.0" -- I have looked a bit, and like what I see. Offline, etc. is good. I have *always* stated that I see Flex / Apollo as *directions* for RIA web clients, not the be-all-and-end-all-for-all-time. However from what I've read of FF 3.0 it will still have an Ajax + Canvas and some SVG. I think a rich, structured, retained, vector graphics capability in Flex is better than those things I think will be in FF 3.0. that said, I am interested in Flex / Apollo pushing FF and other web clients to be even better. Convergence could be good, but competition to some extent could be even better.
"I think you drastically underestimate what can be done with current browsers, even in a cross-browser manner." -- maybe, but it seems awfully painful and unnecessary. The key is, I believe, to get services more restful, less UI-oriented, and then various kinds of clients can interpret them in their own ways. Restful services are more important to me than semi-compliant HTML web browsers.
"it's better to evolve the browser rather than replace it" -- the browser is *stale*. As I said above, Flex / Apollo is useful for pushing the current browsers to the next level. Meanwhile it is also a hell of a lot nice to develop Flex / Apollo based apps than Ajax. With restful "data" services you have more choice in client components per se.
"WS-Deathstar" -- N/A -- misunderstanding on my part.
"Apollo and (especially) Silverspoon aim at replacing the deployed infrastructure, when they cd have enhanced existing browsers instead (as apparently Mozilla intends to do)." My response...
I agree, although arguably MSFT's and Adobe's current approach is more expedient for them. I would hope they are participating fully in the WHAT-WG or whatever (pun) that workign group is that's trying to push the browser forward.
A fairly good signal so far -- Adobe has donated their VM to open source, in particular Mozilla. The Flex API is opening sooner rather than later. The Apollo folks have said this is a likely direction for them as well.
Apollo did choose the HTML component used by Safari and others rather than Mozilla's. But they are using an open, popular one. I imagine they have valid technical reasons for this choice over Mozilla's.
All things considered, I think the state of the web client is moving in a positive direction by having many various clients. Given the browser stagnated for so long, this seems to be a time to expand choices and think creatively.
Thanks again for the comments! I hope this is helping all of us.