launching out of Labs today the Adobe Integrated Runtime, or AIR. AIR is a really exciting platform that combines qualities of the web with a presence on the desktop by making it easy to build attractive Internet connected applications that live outside the browser. As part of today's launch, new AIR apps from Salesforce, FedEx, eBay, Nickelodeon, Nasdaq, AOL and The New York Times Company will be demonstrated at the Adobe Connect conference in San Francisco.Adobe is
Lots more AIR apps are coming soon and that's great news. Some of my favorite words to hear these days from startups are "we're working on/have an AIR app."
I've been excited about AIR for some time and am of the belief that much of the conversation going on today misses some key points about why AIR is important. Here are my top five reasons AIR is important, followed by some resources that can be used to look deeper into this fortuitous development environment and follow it in the future.
Much of this conversation is based on my experience with Twitter clients built on AIR. Many of the leading ways to use Twitter outside of the browser are AIR apps and it's a great way to get a taste of the possibilities - the lightweight communication of Twitter works very well with the lightweight beauty of AIR.
There are frameworks competing with AIR and there have been similar attempts in the past, but people are building useful and attractive AIR apps now. I think this is a framework we're going to see a whole lot more of in the coming months.
The Best Things About AIR
- Cross Platform
- It's beautiful
- It's not in the browser
- It combines the responsiveness of the desktop with the cloud of the web.
AIR lets developers write code once and offer their applications to both Windows and Mac users. If that was the only part of this announcement, it would be exciting.
AIR lets developers use Adobe Flash, Adobe Flex, HTML and AJAX to create desktop apps. That means no more ugly desktop software! AIR apps combine the beauty of Flash with the responsiveness that AJAX brings to the web and that desktop software almost always offers.
In addition to the gorgeous Twitter clients built on AIR, there are more serious AIR apps that leverage the same beauty and usability for more serious applications. See, for example, the company Acesis, which offers an AIR for the capture of structured medical data.
The browser is great but how often does yours get overloaded? To say that the web based future will be confined to the browser would be pure folly. I want web enabled apps that I can use outside of and during my otherwise frenetic bopping around web pages in my browser. The fact that some AIR apps are easy to set persistently above all other apps on your desktop makes it all the easier to use them throughout your workflow inside the browser and elsewhere.
Adobe demonstrated an upcoming design framework called Thermo in October that can be used to create Flex apps for the web or desktop. Thermo lets developers easily integrate Photoshop items into the user interface of their apps. The company describes this feature as the option to "Turn artwork from Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, or Fireworks directly into functional components that use the original artwork as a 'skin.'"
This means big improvements in user experience and visual appeal of apps. Put those puppies in AIR and it's going to be exciting.
It's not about a Web Operating System or anything that will replace your local desktop, it's about combining some of the best traits of the desktop with the cloud connectivity of the web in individual apps that live on your desktop.
The combined wisdom of the personal computer with the visions of the thin client or web-based world, is smarter than any picture of the future based solely on any of those paradigms seperately.
Now that AIR is in production, we're going to see a whole bunch of dazzling and mainstream AIR apps made available. Here are some resources you can use to dig deeper and follow this trend as it develops.
- Live coverage of Adobe Engage conference
Robert Scoble's using the Qik mobile video platform to broadcast live from the event. It's like a free ticket!
- Del.icio.us Popular AIR
Despite the fact that unclean air kills scores of people who try to breathe it every day and gives little kids asthma and stuff - the most popular items tagged "air" in del.icio.us aren't about air quality. They are about Adobe AIR - and there's some good stuff there. In addition to Popular, see also the "all" page.
- AIR Apps Wiki
With more than 120 examples linked here, this wiki is a much more exhaustive resource than the official Adobe AIR marketplace.
- RIA Weekly- Podcast
Redmonk's Michael Coté and Adobe's Ryan Stewart talk "Rich Internet Apps" (web/destop hybrids) with developers and news, and they don't just limit the discussion to Adobe platforms. Almost all the Redmonk Radio podcasts are worth a regular listen.
- Adobe's Blogs
There are only so many company blogs out there that you'd want to read for fun. Some of Adobe's fall into that category.