28 June 2010

Adobe AIR 2.0: A New Boost For RIA’s

Adobe AIR logo

Alongside with Flash 10.1, Adobe also released their desktop RIA runtime. The also very awaited Adobe AIR 2.0 release.

Lets Start With Some History For The Sake Of Context

Going back in time (2007) when the very first beta releases were out giving the rounds.Adobe AIR (back then called Apollo) It was a little more than Adobe version of mimicking the .NET Framework and Java principles as a platform while focusing them completely for the consumer market. That their play of extending what they had with Flash, Flex and Shockwave to the desktop. It was a captivating idea that managed to capture the attention of non-adobe developers as the option for using web tech in desktop apps was also included. An idea that came from the now pretty much forgotten HTMLapplets and the not so forgotten but severely underutilized and not anywhere popular enough SSB managers.

Adobe AIR represented a big “eureka” moment for Adobe because they  thought that it would ensure their supremacy  for the long-term future as its goal was to leverage it from the one they had in the browser (with Flash,Flex,Reader and Shockwave) into to the desktop.


Of course that Apple had another idea as it would capitalize on the explosion of the Smartphone market with the iPhone and its new focus on betting its future in iOS disrupting the consumer perception of Apps and their consume. Something that would start a war with Adobe, because at first they never thought they were going to get completely locked out it (iOS) for good. Now it is obvious why, back then not so much for Adobe that underestimated Steve Jobs scorn and contempt. 


Then you had Microsoft fully ready to counter attack all of Adobe new strategies with its own RIA runtime derived from .NET/WPF now known as Silverlight. But more importantly, it would strike back Adobe idea of being the new RIA platform developers would want by dropping Expression Studio and Visual Studio in their way. The biggest and meanest IDE along with its new cool younger IDE brother.

But then……

It was not all bad news for Adobe:

From Arms (Apple) To Arms (Google)

Their war with Apple brought in a previously indecisive Google to a partnership with them on all fronts. A Google that previously didn’t wanted anything to do with Adobe Tech and that was going solo developing all sort of plugins while pushing for the development of HTML5 and better JavaScript rendering engines.

Now Google has completely restructured their strategy, after it became obvious they were now in a heated war with Apple and Microsoft (Now their common enemy, thing that made them a bit more amicable to each other). And that it was impossible to wait for HTML5 maturity or  their own plugins development to fight in the present and in the short term future. Adobe was pretty much the only fitting partner. And Google was also Adobe best possible partner.

The RIA Dazzle From Silvelight

While Microsoft came guns blazing in the way of Adobe. It also benefited that Microsoft had done that. The presence of Silverlight brought people to choose sides and to those in the fence of adopting RIA’s to do so as the paths were marked down.  Adobe had a advantage in RIA’s and that was AIR since even at this moment is about one year ahead in adoption, market and extensibility compared to Silverlight 4. Adobe AIR is already placing its sight on Mobile and Devices thanks to the advancements of Flash 10.1 that has started shipping to Mobile OSes. Starting with Google’s Android 2.2.

Simply put the competition of Adobe vs Microsoft in the Rich Internet Application space was a needed sight for developers and companies (even Google!) to jump into looking for a RIA solution.

What Is New With Adobe AIR 2.0

In General: 

  • 30% less CPU consume in current AIR Apps (1.0-1.5) when run with AIR 2.0 and in future apps compared to what they would had consumed in AIR 1.5
  • 20%-50% less RAM consume in current and future AIR apps.
  • Better RAM utilization
  • Better Cross-Platform Compatibility (Windows – OS X – Linux)
  • Less Cross-Platform Optimization Needed
  • 75%-90% of code reutilization when porting from Desktop to Mobile AIR
  • Faster App Startups
  • 25-50% more responsiveness

In Detail(SDK):

Native Process API

SearchCentral (Mac only) - SearchCentral lets you search your desktop, Google, or Wikipedia from within a single application. SearchCentral takes advantage of the new native process API to communicate with the Mac OS X Spotlight feature. It also uses the open document API to open files when double-clicked.


KeePIPE - a JavaScript-based application that lets users share files on the same network. The application demonstrates how the new networking capabilities can be used to create peer-to-peer applications. KeePIPE also demonstrates the new open document capabilities. If you use an application such as VMWare, you can use this application to transfer files between your VM and host computer.

HTTPeek - HTTPeek is a proxy which demonstrates the new ServerSocket APIs in AIR 2. It listens on a designated port, and proxies HTTP requests while displaying the both the request and response HTTP headers.

Mass Storage Device Detection

FileTile - FileTile demonstrates two new capabilities in AIR 2: mass storage device detection, and opening files with their default applications. When running, FileTile detects when a storage device (such as a USB drive or a Flip video camera) is connected, and displays the contents of the files on that device. Right-click on images to preview them, or double-click to open files with their default application.

Local Audio Recording

Microphone - Microphone records and plays back audio locally. It demonstrates a new feature in AIR 2 that lets you write audio locally without requiring a server. You can also speed-up or slow-down the playback speed of the recorded audio.

EchoExample - The EchoExample application records a sound, then plays it back simulating an echo using the new ability in AIR 2 to sample microphone data directly. It also demonstrates the use of the SoundTransform object to modify the sound dynamically before playing it back.

Multi-touch & Gestures

PhotoPhysics - PhotoPhysics is a multi-touch application that includes a built-in physics engine. Note: PhotoPhysics requires a multitouch device such as an HP TouchSmart PC or a Dell Latitude XT2 running Windows 7.

GeoTest - GeoTest lets you throw images around the screen using a built-in physics engine. This application demonstrates how a user with a non-multi-touch system may tests multi-touch APIs. Note: GeoTest does not require a multi-touch device.

SpriteFract - SpriteFract demonstrates a mouse-compatible, direct-manipulation interface. It has a built-in physics engine and leverages the new multi-touch APIs. It also uses PixelBender to asynchronously process a large amount of geometry data. Note: SprteFract does not require a multi-touch device. Optional multitouch devices include the HP TouchSmart PC or a Dell Latitude XT2 running Windows 7.

TouchTest - TouchTest allows you to drag, scale, and rotate images on the screen. This application demonstrates the new multi-touch capabilities in AIR 2. Note: TouchTest requires a multitouch device such as an HP TouchSmart PC or a Dell Latitude XT2 running Windows 7.

Print Feature Demo

PrintFeatureDemo - Demonstrates many of the powerful new printing capabilities of AIR 2 including printing without a dialog, querying the list of local printers, and more.

  • What It Is In For You, The Consumer.

    Now lets go for what matters, the end user. The reason why you should install AIR 2.0 is because it will open you doors to lots of new good apps that will bring you better interactive experiences, utilities and content. Apps with very varied designs but overall with a distinctive signature pleasant look. And finally Apps that you can control and use from your desktop that integrate properly with your OS without having to depend completely of your browser or your internet connection.


    Adobe AIR 2.0

    Adobe AIR 2.0 SDK

    Adobe AIR Development Center




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