the markITeer

Adobe AIRs Apollo

Posted by the markITeer on June 12, 2007

Adobe AIRYesterday, Adobe released a beta version of its framework for Rich Internet Applications. The framework, previously known by the codename ‘Apollo’ is now called ‘AIR’ : Adobe Integrated Runtime. Shame that they gave it such a ‘techy’ name, because it’s actually something really pretty: It allows you to port Rich Internet Applications from the web to the desktop.

And so the lines between Internet and desktop applications are starting to blur…

AIR is a small (9MB) piece of software you have to install on your computer. Once installed, you’re ready to run any AIR application available. Think of it like the Flash plug-in: you install it once and you can see all flash-enabled websites. The beauty is that, just like Flash, AIR applications are also platform-independent. After you installed your version of AIR, you can run any AIR application you want on your desktop, whether you’re on Mac or PC!

To create AIR applications, Adobe pushes of course it’s own Flex development environment, which is kind of the programmers equivalent of Flash aimed towards creating Rich Internet Applications. But you could also use the plain old HTML and JavaScript web technologies (and AJAX) to built your web application and port it to the desktop using AIR. Needless to say that AIR will also be fully supported by Adobe’s Flash and DreamWeaver products in the new CS3 product suite…

To make the story complete, Adobe teamed up with Google to deliver real off-line capabilities to online applications using Google’s recently launched Google Gears. This open-source browser plugin installs a very light-weight database on your computer that can be used when online applications -which often depend on a database- are taken offline. As an example of this, Google made it’s own RSS reader available offline. If you have a Google Reader account, be sure to check out the ‘Offline’ link at the top of the application. It allows you to read your RSS feeds even when you’re not connected to the Internet!

Although all this may sound very technical, it really is the next big killer app out there. And what’s more: it’s a nice example of the convergence trend going on between Internet applications and desktop applications. It’s a new game and all the big boys are playing: Adobe (AIR), Google (Google Gears), Microsoft (SilverLight), Sun (JavaFX), …Time to place your bets…

Here’s a demo of the eBay AIR application given some time ago by Mike Downey from Adobe:

To test it yourself, download the AIR beta from http://labs.adobe.com/downloads/air.html and check out some neat examples (at this point, the eBay desktop example shown in the video is not live yet).

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