Adobe Aims to Bring Web to the Desktop

Adobe took the wraps off of AIR on Monday, its cross-operating system platform that allows developers to use Web-centric programming languages and environments to create desktop applications.

AIR, formerly code-named "Apollo," works hand-in-hand with with Flex, Adobe's framework for creating rich Internet applications. Together, "the masses would be able to create applications," senior product manager for Adobe AIR Louis Polanco told BetaNews.

Whereas before developers had to learn separate code languages to develop for both the Web and the desktop, Flex and AIR would make it possible for both environments to run on the same code base without much additional work from the developer.


"They don't have to learn desktop languages," Polanco said.

The two platforms allow developers to also tap into the vast array of applications within the Adobe portfolio, Adobe says. For example, the new version being released Monday supports PDF, allowing developers to easily add the technology into their programs.

AIR also supports SQLite databases, allowing developers to build data storage backends for their applications. Polanco added that Google is using the same technology in its Google Gears product, and the company was aligning itself with the search company to promote SQLite, and ensure continuity with other industry partners.

Flex has been out for three years, however this release is much more feature heavy than its predecessors, with the biggest enhancement being the move by Adobe to promote Web technologies on the desktop.

Other enhancements include tighter integration with CS3, enabling developers to build UI elements in the suite and then port them over to Flex for use in the application. Additionally, productivity enhancements will speed the development process.

Adobe Flex group product marketing manager Dave Gruber told BetaNews that one company using the beta reported that they were able to make changes within applications created in the environment in "weeks instead of months."

Finally, the new version of Flex would also change the way applications are delivered, making for faster deployment. In previous versions, the framework would be delivered every time an application was downloaded. Now, only the application itself would be downloaded if the framework is present.

Gruber said the company would also open source the Flex framework under the Mozilla Public License following Monday's release. This would include the release of nightly builds, a bug reporting system, and the public release of a roadmap for the platform.

In that spirit, both Gruber and Polanco stressed that Flex and AIR would treat no programming language differently than its own. Polanco said no language "would be a second-class citizen," while Gruber added that Flex would provide "equally great support" for other non-Adobe platforms.

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