Adobe on AIR tour in London

This Wednesday Adobe’s on AIR tour rolled into the UK - around 250 developers turned up for a day of talks and demonstrations at the Brewery (once the Whitbread brewery, now a very classy conference and event venue). I’m enthusiastic about AIR - it’s inevitable that internet applications will escape from the browser, and AIR does a great job of providing firstly the right set of application services to set RIAs free in the desktop/platform world, secondly the tools to make building and distributing these applications straightforward.

It was good to catch up with the Adobe folks. Mike Chambers does a great job of introducing and positioning the technology (his blog got me interested in AIR in the first place, back in the days when it was Apollo).

What stood out for me? Firstly, I’d had the wrong impression about AIR, Flex and HTML/JavaScript, thinking that Flex and FlexBuilder were being positioned as the high road to AIR development, with HTML/JavaScript a poor second. Not the case - all the AIR APIs are exposed to JavaScript developers, so not only can you port existing RIAs to AIR, you can enhance them with all the graphic sophistication and access to the system that the AIR runtime provides. I’ll try this out by building a couple of games in the next few weeks.

Secondly, there were some really sweet applications on show. From little demos that the team had been building on the tour itself, through to Nico Lierman’s slick application providing Google Analytics reporting to the desktop. Makes a great case for the interaction + services model of application architecture (those services don’t need to be web services, of course - think of building an application by building your own services, which may be locally hosted, then coding all your interaction using JavaScript or Flex and AIR).

Thirdly, the majority (probably 70-30) of people at the show were designer/developers, not hardcore desktop application programmers. AIR is going to democratise app development - a good thing? Kevin Hoyt talked about bringing mash-ups to the desktop - again, it’s a very different concept of an application.

AIR still has some holes as a platform - which Adobe are aware of (it’s not as if the community hasn’t been shouting about things like threading, invoking external applications and others…). But with a stable 1.0 released on Mac and Windows and a beta on Linux, it’s setting the pace.

And … the AIR launch poster is pretty cool too.

2 Responses to “Adobe on AIR tour in London”

  • IanM responded:

    Is it coincidence that AIR is RIA backwards?

  • David responded:

    Sure it’s not lost on the marketing folks at Adobe!

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