Apple's quietly deploying a new web technology that could help it combat Silverlight and Flash, SproutCore.

SproutCore is a JavaScript framework designed to make web applications that work a lot like desktop apps. The solution was developed outside Apple by Charles Jolley, but Apple soon hired the developer to its .Mac (now MobileMe) team.

It's this use of SproutCore that makes the apps demoed for MobileMe last week appear so similar - in looks and behaviour - to their desktop equivalents.

What's key is that the system doesn't demand developers remain locked-into using one standard, such as Flash. That's because SproutCore is based on open JavaScript standards, which makes it widely compatible with browsers and platforms.

This also speeds up development and offers a variety of other usage and server-side improvements in comparison to some other rich internet creation apps.

And lets the application run inside the browser, rather than requiring a plug-in: "A SproutCore application is a JavaScript application that runs entirely in the web browser. It can often run on its own, without even needing support for a web server except when it makes sense for the application. This frees the server developer to focus on the things the server can do very well such as saving, restoring and aggregating data and performing expensive operations. Meanwhile the 'thick' client running in the web browser can handle the task of presenting the user with a friendly interface that is fast and intuitive," the SproutCore website explains.

SproutCore was demonstrated to 600 developers at WWDC last week.