Introduction to flying in AIR

In the last days, I had the chance to play with the SDK of AIR beta (Adobe Integrated Runtime). on Adobe’s website they introduce it as :

Adobe® AIR™, formerly code-named Apollo, is a cross-operating system runtime that allows developers to use their existing web development skills to build and deploy rich Internet applications to the desktop.

AIR is still in beta and till now it only supports the following operating systems

  • Windows XP SP2
  • Windows Vista Home Ultimate Edition
  • Mac OS 10.4.8 and 10.4.9 (Intel and PowerPC)

* they will start working on supporting linux after the 1.0 release.

AIR mainly targets web developers. it allows you to develop desktop applications using your web development skills. you can develop AIR applications using HTML, JavaScript and Flash. you are not forced to use flash. you can only use HTML and JavaScript if you want.

not like the normal web development, in your AIR apps you won’t need to check for the type of the user’s browser . AIR uses the open source WebKit browser engine that’s used by known web browsers like KHTML on KDE and Safari.

as I didn’t work with Flash before, I chose the option of developing using HTML and JavaScript only. the nice thing is that I still have full control as I can access the AIR, Flash player and ActionScript APIs from my JavaScript code. this will allow me to do things I’m not allowed to do in a normal web application.

AIR comes with

  • embedded SQLite database
  • native windowing API
  • file IO API
  • application update API
  • full control over your application’s chrome
  • online/offline API
  • drag and drop support
    – Between operating system and Adobe AIR applications
    – Between Adobe AIR applications
    – Between native applications and Adobe AIR applications
  • native icons
  • standard installer

you can see that not like the normal web applications, the AIR applications have access to your file system and this will make you think about security. so like any normal desktop app, you have to use trusted applications only.

What not to expect from AIR?
AIR won’t replace the normal desktop applications. Kevin Hoyt explains this here. AIR aims to get the web to the desktop (not vice versa).

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