[Adobe MAX 2009] Adobe offers developers a fresh breath of AIR

By Kshitij Sobti | Published on 07 Oct 2009
[Adobe MAX 2009] Adobe offers developers a fresh breath of AIR

For those still not introduced to Adobe AIR, it is essentially a tool which allows web developers to easily create desktop application using a free SDK. Content created using web technologies such as HTML JavaScript CSS or Adobe Flash can be complied into a desktop application which is packaged as a .air file.

While this has allowed many web developers to reuse their skills by creating desktop applications, AIR has been criticized for some of its grave flaws: first, that AIR applications use an inordinate amount of memory. Second, that AIR applications were unable to launch native applications or open documents with their associated programs; a rather severe limitation.

Adobe AIR 2.0 will now introduce further optimizations, will introduce the ability to launch native application, and open files with their associated programs!

Since AIR 2.0 will build on Flash 10.1, it will also bring along all the features that the 10.1 version of the player offers. 

AIR 2.0 new / improved features:

  • Open files with default associations
  • Launch native processes (this will require the app to be installed using a native installer instead of an .air file) and communicate with them
  • Volume detection. AIR can now detect and raise events when volumes (i.e. pendrive, CD Drive etc.) are added or removed.
  • Direct microphone access. This functionality, included with Flash Player 10.1 will allow for better and more powerful audio processing application written in AIR.
  • Audio Encoding. Audio captured from a microphone can be encoded in AIR itself.
  • Multi-touch gestures. Another feature included in Flash Player 10.1, will allow for much more interactive interfaces for AIR apps in Windows 7 and Mac OSX 10.6
  • P2P support. Network resources could be better optimized by distributing some of the burden on P2P sources. Adobe also has a P2P system for Flash called Stratus, allowing people to build P2P voice / video chatting, and gaming applications. AIR application could even run local servers.
  • New bundled webkit engine with HTML5 and CSS3 support! While the internet fills up with articles about how HTML5 will kill off Flash, Adobe seems to be integrating well with the technology!
  • Improved accessibility. AIR 2.0 applications will have better accessibility with better support for screen readers.

A beta of Adobe AIR 2.0 is expected by the end of this year, with a final release in the first half of 2010. As with the previous version of AIR, it is expected that the feature set will improve over time, however, even with these announcements we can expect a wave of new and improved desktop applications built using AIR.

Kshitij Sobti


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