Loose notes from SXSW 2008 panel on Adobe Air, Taking it to the Desktop.
Anyway, this session helped put a few more of the pieces together mentally. Still not convinced it’s going to become a big hit though.
Traditional desktop envs: .NET (Win) Cocoa (mac) c/c++ (linux) Air is not these things Air runs identically on all of these. What kind of people are suited for AIR development? Both designers and developers. AIR technology stack HTML-based Flash-based Either side can include the other. Adobe AIR API. If you know Actionscript 3 you now have additional APIs (drag and drop, interact with filesystem, etc.) Full network detection Full read/write access to hard drive Native file dialogs Save Select Select multiple Directory Drag and drop clipboard System level drag and drop AIR to AIR AIR to OS OS to AIR Database support SQL Lite (same as Google Gears and what's in all phones) Zero setup Service monitoring Full online/offline detection API (unplug your network cable and AIR knows; does the right thing) Monitor network interface changes Mnitor services Support for multiple service types Custom window chrome shapes, alpha / transparency Multi-window NativeMenus Drag and drop with OS System tray / Dock System notifications Custom filetypes Handle file associations
Same as tools you use in-browser. Either continue to use Flash or Flex or Dreamweaver. AIR SDK is technically free – you could use a plain text editor and none of the Adobe tools.
Flash Player 9 is native (of course).
ActionScript 3 only.
h.264 video support
Additional AIR APIs for desktop-specific stuff.
Possible to build windows with OS chrome, custom chrome, pre-packaged chrome, or no chrome at all. Also support for non-rectangular windows.
Off-line caching – come back to a video site over and over again and you won’t be hitting the server for vids you’ve watched before.
Nick.com demo – lets users drag puzzle pieces from the actual web site to the AIR app, and it collects them for you; then lets you assemble the puzzle. So nice communication between online and offline modes/apps.
ebay.com demo – All built using Flex. Real-time data incoming, displays a little more powerful than web version. Grabs user=generated HTML on sale items and integrates that into the Flex app in real time.
Twirl – Twitter update client.
Is Air right for all desktop apps? Is Adobe trying to knock off .NET? No. It’s right for certain kinds of apps. Not trying to replace all desktop technologies.
Can I extend AIR to get lower level OS access? No – we don’t want people creating Windows-specific AIR apps, so it’s 100% cross-platform.
Doesn’t AIR create security issues? No more or less than any Windows or Mac desktop app. Exactly the same.
Are web devs smart enough for this? Do we really want web devs to create AIR applications? Absolutely. They’re exactly right, in fact.
Can you run AIR apps on mobile phones? Not yet, but we want those clients to appear.
“Badge” install you can put on your web site – will check for presence of AIR and install it if nec. No way to create a self-running version (that runs without installing the runtime separately).
There’s a full API for checking for newer version of your apps – if detected, can update app and relaunch as seamlessly as possible.
Full https support. Full web service support (REST, xmlrpc)
You can generate PDF on the fly – not a high-level API to do it, but it can be done. But you have to wite the PDF headers manually (similar to generating PDF in PHP).