Rich Internet Applications and Greek Mythology

Ever since I first starting hearing about Adobe Apollo, I had a feeling there was more to the name than was apparent.

Apollo or Apollo (Greek God) ?

Adobe wants you to believe that the name Apollo is a reference to the Apollo project, the series of NASA missions aimed at landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth, a goal set by JFK that’s the point of the Apollo icon, with it’s orbital circle.

But I’ve decided the codename “Apollo” (Kevin Lynch has said that there will be a real release name which is different) is a disguised swipe at Ajax.

Ajax, in Greek mythology, was not a god, but a human hero and King. Interestingly, in the Illiad, he is the only major warrior who receives no assistance from the gods, suggesting “the virtues of hard work and perseverance.”

Microsoft called their Ajax platform (now more prosaicly known as ASP.NET AJAX) Atlas – a Titan and brother to Prometheus who held heaven and earth on his shoulders as a punishment from Zeus for leading the Titans in a revolt against the gods.

(Side note: This is the same Atlas who retrieved the Golden Apples of the Hesperides for Hercules, who tricked Atlas into taking back up the burden of the world on his shoulders).

So why does Adobe choose Apollo? Well, the god Apollo unites art and reason, and is the god of beauty, the sun, music, light, truth – the ideal of beauty. Perhaps Apollo plays in both senses here – rather than holding up the earth (like Atlas) Adobe’s Apollo is taking us to the moon and back, and providing beauty. Ajax was merely human, Apollo divine. Atlas tried to usurp the gods and was punished; Apollo brought order, music, and poetry.

Perhaps it’s time for an open source web/desktop framework named after Dionysus? (See Apollonian and Dionysian)

p.s. The Microsoft codename for what is now called Windows Presentation Foundation was Avalon. Why does Avalon sound familiar? It’s a mythic island associated with King Arthur – where Excalibur was forged, and where Arthur’s body rests. It’s also, though, famous for its beautiful apples. Microsoft admitting to the inspiration for their focus on improved graphics capability?


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  5. For what it’s worth, I haven’t seen any copies of Bullfinch’s Mythology around the Adobe offices…. ;-)

    (The earlier Macromedia Central project was codenamed “Mercury”, and the Apollo spaceflight program succeeded the Mercury launches. The Apollo runtime supports Ajax approaches.)


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  7. One thing I noticed when I saw the name Apollo used for this product, and going back to my Latin days in high school, was this : Of the major gods in ancient Greece and Rome, which were basically the same gods, Apollo was the only one who had the same name in Greek mythology and Roman mythology. And since one of the goals of Adobe Apollo is to be seamlessly cross-platform, I thought it was pretty clever naming.

  8. Not everyone cares deeply about names. I’ve been around projects named Fallos (Frequency Allocation System) and Icarus (with unfortunate mythological associations)

  9. And then there was Microsoft Silverlight, the new name for Windows Presentation Foundation/Everywhere, formerly part of Avalon.

    Why Silverlight? Well, early photography was based on the reaction of silver-based compounds to exposure to light. Where Flash photography is based on creating large volumes of light in order to better encode the image, silverlight is the core technology used in film.

  10. Funny that we choose the name Gaia which is the greek “mother of all” goddess, in fact even the mother to Zeus… ;)
    Do others see the “ladder” here…? ;)


  11. This is coz I´ll write a PERL module (or a framework. Not decided yet) call´d ‘Tuthankhamon’.
    Or ‘Imhotep’.
    Maybe ‘Sekhemet’.
    Hmmmm… What abt ‘Ahnksunamun’?

    Let´s the greek rest in peace, folks!

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