What Rhymes with AIR? I Don’t Care

I am not interested in developing for AIR, Adobe Integrated Runtime. While the features sound compelling, they do not offer me anything I need in my day to day development for clients. I do not believe the market, currently, has a supporting model for those types of applications in a compelling way. AIR additionally does not offer anything new beyond it being a Flash projector wrapper with Adobe’s name behind it. All of the features I’ve seen can be done, and have been capable of being done for over 5 years now. I believe the only reason there is a perceived vested interest by the community currently has to do in part with Adobe’s immense marketing initiatives, and part because all the new Flex blood has no idea of the history Flash already had doing this stuff.

I consider Flash and Flex really fun tools to make a living. I used to love doing desktop multimedia using Director, embedded Flash into Visual Basic & C, and even all of the 3rd party projectors (mProjector, Zinc, Screenweaver, etc.). The market, however, has been paying me since 2002 to build for the web. I know of 1 guy up in Detroit, Michigan who does nothing but desktop development doing Flash & Zinc. That’s pretty crazy when you look at all the wonderful things Flash can do being embedded into these various environments. They never got mainstream, even with all the cool things they can do. AIR is not fated to repeat this same history. Regardless, I fail to see how a big brand name with more cheddah’ than Macromedia, and newly christened Java-turned-Flex Developers can do what Director MX, Zinc, and mProjector couldn’t; get enterprise customers paying for Flash on the desktop.

All the main features of knowing when you are online or off, saving local data into either text files or mini-database engines, and running cross platform was capable of being done for years in Director, mProjector, and Zinc. Clients still didn’t pay for it. Yes, AIR DOES have transparency on an embedded browser, but that is not going to score me more work.

While I think Google Gears has potential because it actually positively affects my daily life as a consumer, I don’t yet see how AIR will. For example, if I could read my GMail and Google Docs while I’m on a plane with snakes travelling to client sites, that’d be wonderful! Until Delta gets wireless like other airlines, I’m offline when I’m at 30,000 ft. I’m no longer capable of using all the web apps I use up there. There is a real need to satisfy the occasional connectivity problem by having the ability for all of these web apps to work when offline. It’s hard to really gauge interest from the wider web development community when reading the echo chamber. Furthermore, Google Gears clearly shows Google is solving it themselves. Yeah, I know, Kevin Lynch being there might not be coincidence, but if you were Google, what would you do?

Bottom line, there are 2 sources of revenue that clients who hire me have. Either it comes from advertising, or they have an existing business model, and want me to build software to help them make more in that market. The former will use my content amidst other web content, aka adverts of some sort. The latter loves the deployment model of the web, and uses my applications on their intranets or internal websites to deploy to their customers.

So, the money fueling my Flash & Flex work right now is web based advertising models, and in using web based software applications to reduce overhead / increase customer retention & draw. People use web browsers to do both of the above, and so do consumers. They all have Flash Player 9 installed, or don’t mind installing it in the 12 seconds it takes on slow DSL . To this day, server admins still perceive Flash Player as a harmless animation toy and this works in my favor in getting them to install it corporation wide.

The only monkey wrench in the above is an un-substantiated (aka un-cited source because I don’t believe the info yet) report about click through rates. I’ve heard that click-through rates (meaning the percentage of people who see an ad AND click it) are EXTREMELY higher for widgets. While I don’t believe that strictly on the fact I’ve not been shown any official data, there is certainly evidence of it. For example, I’ve gotten 2 contract gig offers to do widget work, 1 from an agency, and 1 from a smaller software shop. The trend the past few years has been moving to bigger apps, not smaller ones, so this is odd… and using Flex, not Flash, to do them to boot. Third, the explosion of widget engines in the past 4 years. Kapsules, Konfabulator & Mac OSX’ built in stuff, Windows Vista’s sidebar, SpringWidgets, and Yourminis … and the 10 billion I’m not documenting here. It’s taking me 6 months to really try the ones that came with my Mac. Could I live without them? Sure, but do I want to? No, I’d prefer to keep them, and have access to them. Finally, the weird MySpace drama where they blocked a widget embedded on MySpaces user pages because it had it’s own ads, thus “stealing” MySpace’s ad revenue… and then subsequently buying them a week later since the company obviously knew how to make more money from MySpace’s users than they did. They wouldn’t do that if they weren’t concerned about losing money, enough to inconvenience users.

Either way, the only thing that could top the AIRBus travelling the country is if they did what Microsoft did and pay someone to build your existing, and proven to already work but let’s risk breaking it, in an unproven and new technology. Aka Yahoo building their Yahoo Messenger in WPF. On the flip-side, it seems that the Cerulean Studios peeps on their own accord checked AIR out when it was still Apollo, aka alpha, so I’m sure that saved some dough and garnered great feedback from viable developers. I use Adium on my Mac, and Trillian on my PC so does that mean I’d install AIR so I could use Astra on both? At least Yahoo knows that Vista has WPF pre-installed whereas, whereas the rest would have to install AIR even though WPF would be only Windows (they said WPF, not Silverlight, so…).

Don’t get me wrong, Meebo is cool and all, and I’ve used it from time to time, but there is a reason some of this stuff is out the browser. Those reasons are usually to use powerful code not included in enough browsers to depend on it. Waiting on AIR to implement said useful code means waiting years for it to come to fruition assuming AIR survives to version 2. I don’t know about you, but I like building stuff today, and in the next 6 months, and I fail to see incentives to do so. Yes, I’m aware of the various initiatives to allow talking to the OS via installed local socket programs to allow AIR apps more functionality, and while neat, it’s a hack, building something into AIR that is notnatively there.

Don’t get me started on how easy it is to write destructive viruses using AIR and how Adobe’s brand will be held accountable.

Same thing with ubiquity. Flash Player 9 is reported to be at 80% now. In a few months, we’ll have AIR v1 at 0%. What incentives do consumers have to download a large runtime to install your app? What does this to do to adoption rates which in turn affect development initiatives?

What about multiple computers? GMail works on any box with an internet connection. For AIR apps, however, the runtime has to be installed as does the app yet again on the target machine you wish to use. Furthermore, this assumes you have admin privaledges on the box. In all fairness, so does Flash Player. Finally, your data is probably saved locally unless the developer(s) of the AIR app made a way for it to be saved on a server. If not, your data is on that other machine as well.

People have spent a lot of money putting their brand online. Those people hire me to help that brand continue making money… online… and in a web browser. An unnamed company was quoted as saying, “…applications connected online that have the benefit of the desktop”. I can do that right now, and last year, and the year before that. It’s just that now, we have a bad ass runtime, and even more awesome tools that are still young, and have yet to be fully integrated. Combine that with a new breed of experienced programmers coming to the party. Just imagine a few years more when Adobe starts getting some competition (yes, I’ll keep praying for this dream, and just act delusional till then). Maybe that’s the tipping point?

It’s not so much that I wouldn’t enjoy doing development using AIR, but rather, I see it as an extreme niche, and one that there isn’t a lot of opportunity for people like me in. Can AIR do more than a browser? Sure. Will some consumers use AIR in tandem with their browser? Sure. Even so, I highly doubt the mid-size to Enterprise sphere will invest heavily in it. Getting “Flash Player 9” deployed on internal company networks is one thing, getting an app deployed, and then later updated potentially multiple times is another thing. While I love getting experience through hardship, after hearing the horror stories (DLL hell, etc.) I don’t really regret missing the desktop revolution.

As a Flex and Flash developer who drank the Central kool-aid to an Evangelist degree, I can clearly say I am not interested in developing for AIR.

41 Replies to “What Rhymes with AIR? I Don’t Care”

  1. ‘if I could read my GMail and Google Docs while I’m on a plane with snakes travelling to client sites, that’d be wonderful!’

    Therotically, you could probably do this with AIR through a combination of the HTML/Javascript integration and the integrated SQLite db.

    My viewpoint is quite the opposite. The people I work with aren’t very comfortable with web apps and would much prefer to have these things running on their desktop. I’m quite looking forward to being able to deliver them a desktop version they can use on a regular basis and an online Flex version of the app that gives them access when away from their desktops.

  2. I’m with Jesse on this.

    Air has no super exciting features yet, cross platform is great, but with only file system access? Come on.

    Let’s get real. If adobe made a Zinc and made it actually stable and lightning fast. Then I’d be all over Air. IT doesnt even have an embedded runtime option, bleh.

    Use zinc or an external wrapper…

    Anyway, adobe needs to rethink the strategy on this one I feel. IF they made hardware support and started going big on features then they’d get somewhere.

    Or actually able to extend the API. You cant do jack right now except use the existing api.

    I wanna write some C++ or C# plugins/ASsemblies to do some cool stuff. I dont wanna sit there and be hoping for some new features later on. I wanna write the stuff now for what I need to do.

    Flash interfaces on the desktop are very sexy. But not without some features like what zinc gives you. The problem is zinc is slow and unstable.

    Adobe, give me some plugin support for air and I’ll support you. Get off the high horse on cross platform and let developers go big on extending. Then we’d be getting somewhere, because it would be the responsibiltiy of the developer to implement the cross platform solution on top of what he has.

    My two cents. Nice post btw.

    – A

  3. Jesse, I hear you and don’t disagree.

    for me, I’m interested in AIR to give me rich VisualBasic x-platform and have a couple of projects I could use it on, one of which is to replace an Authorware app (no mac support).

    my grief is how un-baked it is and the support has not yet reached ‘critical mass’ (like Flex achieved only a couple of months ago).

    If the Mikes and Ted really want AIR to kick along, using the public to shakedown the platform, they’d have more ‘AIR action’ from Adobe staffers. As it is, there’s not enough to get anything done.

  4. Hey jesse,

    A very bold post indeed, and a lot of good points in there. I am going to fully respond to this shortly. But for now the GF is waiting to go out for dinner. But I am certainly going to put my 2 cents in here later tonight.

  5. Canadian Ryan Stewart… ha! Can’t we let Canada shake US?

    Anyway, yeah, I pretty much am right with you here, but because I prefer controversy I think there are a coupla points to consider: The first is one I didn’t realize at first. Namely, AIR lets people leverage their skills. So… when you DO need a desktop app (sure, there is not exactly a growth there) but when you do need it, it’s nice for the HTML/JavaScript and AS folks to have a way to deliver to the desktop. With all due respect to the kids out there today, many never experienced the joy of delivering to the desktop. (Note: I see 0 features in AIR that you couldn’t do with Director 5-10 years ago

  6. Although it was possible to do _some_ of the things that AIR can do using flash/director 5 years ago, flash and director are a flash developers playground – timelines, scores, stages whatever – not exaclty an environment suited to building event driven applications, its really not surprising it wasnt a huge hit in that area is it.

    Now that flex2 is around its a different ball game. I also think you have glossed over the fact being able to use existing web dev skills (html/js) to build a desktop app.

    For the company I work for, about 250-300 employees AIR will be adopted become an important part of the environment. Its going to be easy to integrate web and desktop apps to provide more functionality and usability where required using AIR.

    We have about ~2500 client companies that will still use the existing web applications we have developed and the new flex apps we have been working on more recently, while other clients and internal staff will get AIR apps allowing more usabilty and using the same dev teams we have in place now.

    For real applications AIR has a lot going for it.

    If you can, I would also be VERY interested to hear you ‘get started’ about writing viruses for AIR or is that just a bit of FUD you threw in for dramtic effect. :)


  7. I really think I’m missing it if there’s something AIR can do that Director can’t.

    Seamless install–that’s something.

  8. I don’t quite agree with your’s opinion on AIR.
    The AIR platform give us web developers who not familiar with Director or mProjector and C++ language the ability to develop desktop software, to develop a desktop software using exsit skill such as actionscript is a DREAM for me, the platform is significant to me, not mention the local file access and data stored as well as the sqlite.

    Also the actionscript and javascript is simpler and easier than other language such as C++ to build desktop software, that is to say, the AIR magnified the ability of two script, this is another meaning of the platform.

    Not everyone can use Director or zinc, the new stuff has the new feature and signify the new develop model, not just B/S and C/S, there will be A/S.

  9. Ok so here we go. Back from dinner.

    First off, the ‘Canadian Ryan Stewart’, hmm that is a new one, I will take it as a compliment.

    So, I have a problem with your argument Jesse. The thing I do not like is that you are using your cross section of client work, which seems to be mostly web focused, to try and suggest that desktop application development is extremely niche, and that AIR will likely not succeed as a product.

    In a way, you and Phillip sound like grumpy old men complaining about kids playing music too loud and too late…

    Now, here’s the meat of what I am getting at. You clearly state in your post that there is a demand for desktop application development with Flash. You even quote that a colleague of yours does it full-time. Regardless of whether or not there are already competitors in the space for ‘Wrappers’ around the Flash Player, it makes perfect sense that Adobe would enter this market, as it is becoming quite a common type of project these days. We get requests to design desktop applications with Flash frequently, almost 50% of the work we have has a desktop component.

    Without being to much of a ‘kool-aid’ drinker I certainly welcome Adobe’s new runtime into the arena, because you know the product is going to be well documented, stable, and well supported upon launch, which is something that you cannot say for many of the competitors in the Flash ‘Wrapper’ space. Adobe is also developing the product very transparently with the community, and I have witnessed them make big changes in response to feedback from users already.

    In regards to Central,it is clear that AIR is the next generation of the Central project. Central itself was not a bad product at all, it was just too far ahead of it’s time. The general populace was not ready for such a concept at the time it was put in front of them. Adobe took all of the advice from Central testers and evangelists (including me and you), and built AIR, which as far as I am concerned, turned out to be exactly what I wanted. Check these blog posts out from way back in the day:


    AIR is really version 2 of Central. If you follow the blogging over the last 3 years on the topic, you can easily make that determination. So Central didn’t die, or didn’t get abandoned, it evolved into AIR.

    Now looking at AIR’s features, one may be able to claim that there has been technology that can do what it did in the past, so what’s so special about it? To me, the thing that makes AIR so appealing is FLEX. The ability to use such an awesome RAD platform and just roll something out to the web or the desktop, or both, has never existed before in the Flash world at least. Central’s failure had a lot to do with this point.The Central story would have been totally different if Flex was as powerful, and easy to walk up to, as it is now (actually if it even existed at the time?). The speed and ease at which you can develop apps using Flex is astounding, and AIR being just a couple clicks extra to roll out to the desktop is pretty awesome.

    Don’t forget AJAX app development on the desktop, with SQLite, and the help of AS3 where needed! Do you really think that when Ajax devs start playing with this, that they’re not going to be totally stoked about it? This massive development community hasn’t really ever had tools like AIR in the past, so it’s really new and exciting for them. Google Gears does what it does, but can it facilitate drag and drop from the system and clipboard?, does it give you enhanced windowing control?, etc.

    The virus thing is silly….. Jesse come on man….. Any EXE file you accept onto your machine today, may or may not wipe out your hard-drive. AIR apps will have a real signing system though, and more than that, anti-virus software can deal with AIR apps in the same way they deal with any other desktop app. The real deal is that I will download AIR apps from parties I trust. Just like any other software.

    I don’t see this massive AIR app downloading orgy happening like everyone is worried about. I will just download the AIR apps that I want to use or need to use, just like I do currently with my desktop apps now.

    ‘Cocoa on the Mac is a bad idea, because someone could create an app that I could install and it could so something bad to my machine. Don’t even get me started on Cocoa…’ Give me a break…….

    And finally Director………. oh my god, I cannot believe this one came up. So who today, is going to build desktop applications using Director? The answer is people that learned Director a long time ago, and are used to it, but that is it. Director is not approachable to developers coming from other backgrounds. It is a dinosaur, a good one, but still a dinosaur.

    So I mean I could go back and forth about the details with you Jesse, but the fact is that AIR is a special runtime that will allow you to run your Flex (and AJAX) apps as desktop apps with little or no extra work than what you are used to. It is clear that you love Flex, and you love Flash, so all I can say is:

    ‘It is available for you to use when you need it.’

    Finetune has an internal developer that just started learning Flex and AIR. He was formerly a Python and .NET developer. He started playing with it, and now most of their back-end content management UIs have been re-written in Flex, and Wrapped in AIR where appropriate. Things like batch uploaders for MP3 files and album art are the biggies done in AIR.

    He messaged me yesterday and told me that Flex is all he wants to do now, and AIR is one of the most exciting things he’s used in a long time. The speed in which he can produce these awesome applications is what has him so pumped up.

    So the most ironic thing is, that many of the early adopters now seem jaded, when it comes to AIR and it’s anscestors. You seem to be struggling to see why it’s valid, where he can’t stop coming up with new ideas of ways to use it.

    Is AIR a guaranteed success? No, but already alot of people are interested, and building cool stuff with it. I think the chances of it going somewhere are pretty high this time.

  10. Thanks for writing what gets my ‘thought provoking blog post of the week award’…really.

    I agree it’s not blatantly in our faces how AIR will play out…but 1. it will be part of firefox 3 so the 0% install base might grow faster than you think. 2. I can think of many ways a publisher can take advantage of off line apps…especially for ads. Just being able to count the almighty 1×1 pixel that someone saw off line but got loaded when they reconnected makes for a model in itself (that could be applied to video metrics etc..). I too am pensive yet very curious to see how well the integration of taking a full blown massively scaled web app works in AIR. If is is truly build once and deploy..It could save companies millions spent today on endless debugging, cross platform testing, and refactoring. So all of this may have been possible 5 years ago… well, I would have to say it’s akin to tripod.com being available 10 years ago. Do you not have a myspace page today?


  11. I know it doesnt mean much for you Jesse, but it means alot for the javascript and html peeps. Also once we start to see more devices enabled I think some more value might become more aparent.

    I am in much of a same mind as you though. tryint to think up a killer app to enter the Air Derby, and you know what….its a fricken hard thing to come up with, bar moving existing things from web to desktop

    I guess its hard to comment when I dont really understand Adobes whole game plan.


  12. As others have pointed out, the ability to leverage existing HTML/JS, Flex, AS3, Flash, and PDF skillsets (not to forget JAVA, ColdFusion, ASP.NET, PHP server-side skills – levergared while connected), I see AIR as a way to target the desktop in a fast, efficent way. If done correctly, I see iAIR as getting much closer to the write once, run everywhere that we are all chasing.

  13. You are forgetting productivity and business apps Jesse.
    IMHO office like software will profit the most from AIR, because if you use a piece of software like more then 4 hours a day, then a desktop version actually does make sense.

    Don’t underestimate this sector. A lot of apps have never made it to the web because people don’t want them there.

  14. Michael… you say ‘but 1. it will be part of firefox 3 so the 0% install base might grow faster than you think. ‘

    Not sure what that means.

  15. Also, my point about AIR capabilities being nothing new is not to say that’s why it won’t succeed. Rather, I was just saying it because I don’t understand when people go gah-gah over something like a non-rectangular window.

  16. Sorry Tony, you posted after I was asleep. If it has 2 or more hyperlinks, I have to approve it, but you should see it now.

  17. One major difference between Zinc and AIR: Zinc is buggy as hell, AIR does not appear so and gets my vote. Plus Zinc claims to be crossplatform but if you’ve ever tried to build a true crossplatform app with it then you know the pain…

  18. I’ll try this again but shorter…..

    First off, I am wondering what the Ryan Stewart from Canada thing means.. I appreciate his work, and understand what his role is as an evangelist, but I am quite different. I am solely a strategist and developer for Teknision, and yes I blog a lot about work we do, and technology we use, but I am far from filling the same type of role that he does. It is a little lame, because those kind of statements are the type you see in ‘Digg hating’ comment threads. A little childish for a professional blog that one is supposed to take seiously.

    The thing I don’t like about your post is that you make a sweeping judgement about the validity of AIR based on the your personal clients and what they may be asking for. To crap all over AIR because the majority of your clients want web-centric applications is a little lame.

    As far as I am concerned great strategists prescribe the right solution for the diagnosed problem. That may or may not be AIR, or whatever other wrapper one may decide on, but regardless, there is certainly a market for desktop application development.

    You even stated it yourselfwhen referring to your friend who you quoted as doing it full-time. (he’s not the only one that gets those types of projects.)

    Now AIR may be nothing new, but Flex and AJAX as development platforms for building desktop applications is. That is relevant to many many people, beyond the hardcore Flash devs(who seem to be hating on AIR) that have done it in their little bubble for years. ‘Early Adopter Baggage’ (Central) perhaps?

    As for Central, AIR is the evolution of that product. Adobe did not abandon the project. Many people (including you, Phillip, and myself) contributed hardcore feedback to Macromedia, and they went forward and developed AIR that gave us what we were asking for, and shed all the things that we hated about it.

    So at the end of the day what are you stating here, is it?:

    ‘I think AIR is crappy and feature set is the same old same old’

    or is it:

    ‘I do web application development, why would I want to move apps to the desktop?’

    Either way, your client work is how you make money, and you will prescribe the right solutions for their problems. Fair enough.

    I fail though to see any compelling argument in this post as to why others should not consider ‘AIR’ when they are faced with a project that requires desktop development.

  19. Hey Jesse,
    There are a few things that I’ve been keeping in mind with the flood of Desktop RIAs.

    First is that the folks testing the waters are producing widgets and not applications (with the exception of apps like Finetune, Pownce, San Dimas or Buzzword). This will initially turn a lot of folks off because they are seeing a ton of useless ‘things’ being offered as examples of AIR capability. This will eventually change as folks get more comfortable and more businesses give go ahead to implement applications using AIR.

    Second, it’s hard for people to get out of the mind set of the differences between a desktop app and a web based app. The last few months I’ve heard folks over and over asking, ‘Why do we need web apps on the desktop?’. We don’t. Desktop apps are a whole other application toolset that have an entirely different purpose.

    Third is what I see as the main focus of Desktop RIA development – content delivery. Want to keep more users engaged with your business? Want to push updated content to the user? Branded AIR apps is the perfect solution. Its way easier to retain users when you deliver the information opposed to counting on the user to go and see what’s new.

    All in all, I think desktop application development will segment itself away from ported web based apps in the near future. I think folks will see the value in those applications and the difference between the two.

  20. Tony, dude, lighten up. We’ve played XBox Live together, collaborated online, and debated plenty of times before. Everyone fell in love with Ryan Stewart because they would always leave his blog entries with a warm, fuzzy positive feeling towards RIA’s . You are much the same in way in espousing all the good things and not focusing the negatives. You also have a unique perspective because you own a business AND do development. So, in short, you have very valuable opinions on this.

    I’ll still beat your ass in Halo, though.

    My point isn’t ‘AIR is invalid’ but rather ‘AIR is not being marketed at someone like me effectively’. Your point about me being 100% in the web sphere is very valid. All of my work comes from it, so I was hoping that reiterating my source of income would clearly show the perspective (horse blinders?) that I have with regards to desktop development. I use desktop apps, I just don’t make them.

    Finally, dude, I can think of a ton of ideas to build in AIR… I just don’t have the clients to fund said ideas. I’m sure if I took the initiative and marketed a lot of those ideas and/or applied them to a lot of my clients’ problems, then I could defiantly get funding.

    Right now, the funding for Flex & Flash on the web comes in like crazy without me having to do anything.

  21. I don’t disagree with anything Tony says (except maybe that I SOUND like a grumpy old man… I AM one)… however, I think I’m in a similar boat as Jesse in that my clients don’t have a need for desktop apps very often. In fact, the continuted growth is in web apps. Perhaps it’s like the huge mobile opportunities that keep passing me by.

    But, sure, when you need a desktop app AIR is definitely the first option to consider.

    Also, be certain I’m not trying to hurt AIR. I’m just surprised by some of what I’d call hype behind it. Having said this… what I predict we’ll see a lot of is AIR apps that have little or no benefit being on the desktop. That’s not Adobe’s fault, but does indicate hype. I know for a fact people are already trying to push AIR for no other reason than it’s something new. Reaching for AIR is fine, pushing it is silly. It also seems that people are seeing what they want to see in AIR… sort of definining a future by painting it themselves. I saw couple points in this thread where people say things that are either pure speculation or wishful thinking.

    Finally, if a client wants real time hardware accelerated 3D wouldn’t you choose Director? I’m just pointing out that you don’t want to gravitate to AIR ONLY because of the nice development environment. Sure, that’s one of the big attractions… and worthy too, but what I think the core of this thread is ‘give clients what they want’.

  22. Burak, Phio may be AIR ‘based’ (though I’m not sure if that’s true) but if it is, it’ll be a special version to support the DRM.

  23. Phillip, good point about Shockwave 3D, but with Papervision, and signs that the Flash Player is moving towards utilizing hardware acceleration, my guess is that, even that will be replaced shortly.

    Also, alot of the hype is aimed at the AJAX crowd. Remember they haven’t had this desktop fun that we’ve had for many years. It is new to a huge amount of developers that AIR is being marketed to.

  24. Hey Jesse,

    ok I’ll lighten up…. It’s just that I still can’t shake the ‘homeskillet’ definition from way in the past.

    We’ll se about the Halo action as well. When 3 drops, we’ll get it sorted out. So let’s save that until then.

    Back to AIR. I hear your perspective, but it truly is a matter of your clients vs others. Teknision has been approached about developing 3 full on AIR apps already and the software is still in beta. 2 of those are already in development, and 1 of them is already out: ‘Finetune Desktop’

    So anyways it really depends on your clients, who they are, and what they are building.

  25. I’m kind of surprised that so far I have seen almost no mention of ‘occasional connectedness’ in this debate over the merits of AIR. For me, that was the big selling point – I know of no other product that makes it easy to sync someone’s offline activities with a server when a connection becomes available. That’s why, as an online application developer, I care about AIR. There is almost no online-only application that wouldn’t be better if it didn’t bomb when your net connection drops. I’m looking forward to Flex apps that you can run both in the browser, and in standalone mode.

  26. Yea – I think the main thing is if you could extend Air to use c++ dlls and write your own apps to work with it. Including basic things like getting process lists and window handles.

    Then air would be useful. Unfortunately its not useful to certain people who are used to a regular software development on the desktop where you expect certain things to be workable.

    I would give my left eye if I could get C++ or C# or even java support dll/jars or something that could access the underlying hardware layer so we can write our own software professionally.

    If adobe keeps it to their own api then we can’t go farther which sucks. We need freedom!

  27. You know something — this is what air should have.

    Air should be able to natively execute bundled jar files and be able to load these similar to dll files. A basic remoting integration with compiled java code and then return the information back very similar to remoting is today except it could do it on the client desktop.

    That would be bad ass. Then you could extend air to do anything you wanted and you would be able to use the entire java library for use. And it would all be cross platform.

    They would just have to figure out something about the jre…. Anyway, just a thought.

    Air would go bigtime then.

  28. @ Phillip –

    I was referring to the Tamerin/AVM2 open-source project which will be part of Firefox 3. In hindsight, this will benefit Flex/Flash but not necessarily AIR…. so good eye my friend.


  29. Jesse, I seem to remember you as one of the hard core Central koolaid drinkers. Seems like AIR fixes a lot of Central’s flaws, opens it up and makes it far more useful. Curious why the change of heart.

  30. I see this has a lot to do with clients, skills, target industries. Jesse mentions ‘The market, however, has been paying me since 2002 to build for the web.’ In that same period i have produced several applications that were targeted to the desktop and in my new position a full 100% of our solutions have a desktop runtime version for the client to use in case they don’t have an LMS setup plus our authoring tool. So AIR is very interesting to me if it allows me to get away from zinc. For our company Director is not an option as we have no interest in bringing on a director guy when we can have our flash guys do the same with AIR (nor do we want one objective -c guy and a .net guy). In the end AIR just gives everyone more choices. Clients and developers. It gives me some desktop access and once it’s final i’ll see if the features cover what we need-if it does then we can run with it.

    So i see where jesse is coming from if his clients aren’t generating any chatter-it isn’t paying the bills so who cares. On my side it may simplify our dev cycle so i do care but it doesn’t mean anyone is wrong.

  31. Thanks for the post, Jesse. Definitely food for thought.
    After all the interesting oppinions, I feel that AIR still has a very important place in the larger web-app / disconnected desktop scope. We are building a failry large system in Flex and investigated the various options to offer it as a desktop app. I have used Zinc a little in the past and found it a bit hacky, but workable. We tried to use it in this project & couldn’t get multiple window support working. There was no documentation online to give alternative examples. After a few wasted hours we decided that AIR was the better way to go just in terms of stability, documentation and support. I do agree with you that AIR can be overkill for small disconnected widgets, but as far as support and integrated (and well thought out) features for web/disconnected desktop development it is a cinch moving a Flex app over to an AIR app. Furthermore it offers web-page support within the runtime – which I’m not sure how possible & seamless this is with Zinc.

  32. I wonder if AIR will be leveraged to create the next generation of Adobe software? A new subscription-based, opt-in business model. No more cracked (current) Adobe software on Bittorent.

    Probably not, but it’s a thought. I’m puzzled over AIR, but when I need it, hopefully it’ll still be there. Note: I didn’t mean for that to rhyme.

  33. >Burak, Phio may be AIR ‘based’ (though I’m not sure if that’s true) but if it is, it’ll be a special version to support
    the DRM.


    Philo / Adobe Media Player is built on top of abd deployed via the same AIR runtime that everyone else will have.

    mike chambers


  34. >Philo / Adobe Media Player is built on top of abd deployed via the same AIR runtime that everyone else will have.

    Cool… thanks for the correction. To be crystal clear then… are you saying AMP will only utilze APIs native in FlashPlayer/AIR? How does the DRM work?

    Specifically, say I want to build an app that can view DRM’d FLVs…. can I do that? I had the impression the end user would HAVE to use the AMP. I’d even be happy if the DRM was available as an add on via some server technology that my client would have to buy.

    My take–and please correct me if I’m wrong–is that the ONLY way you’ll be able to view DRM’d FLVs is using the AMP… is this not the case?

  35. Jesse,

    Always been a fan of your blog and today you nailed it :) I tried this approach many moons ago but it came off as being ‘MSFT says Apollo sux’ (goes with the brand i guess). Yet, you’ve pretty much just put it on the floor and said ‘this is what hurts, this is what rocks but overall this is where I need to be’.

    I think AIR could be enormous, but striking the balance between Security Context and Desktop Client App derived from Flex/Flash is the delicate balance. I don’t envy the engineers behind the product, as it looks awfully tough :)

    I did also giggle at the ‘Echo Chamber’ part.. that was funny.

    Scott Barnes.
    MossyBlog / Microsoft.

  36. Saying Zinc and others of its ilk already solved the sometimes connected local flash app is just a little bit over the top. Does anyone really believe that there is no room for improvement over Zinc or mProjector? I sure hope not, because my experiences with Zinc were a little less than perfect. Downright frustrating even.

    I haven’t used it in 6 months (and I’m thankful for that), but when I last used it, it still had bugs that required work arounds. The network connectivity detection sucked, learving you to implement wierd hacks like pinging sites or pinging in a hidden command line and parsing the results. The answer I got from Zinc was basically, ‘Well your network doesn’t always clear its state immediately, so sometimes it will be cached and return the wrong answer.’ That was in Windows by the way, I’m not even sure how well it worked on Mac.

    Or even better, the SWEET bug involving the activex flash plugin in IE. Apparently if that wasn’t installed on XP then your Zinc projector would crash. So much for a self contained projector that doesn’t require flash to be installed on a machine huh?

    Despite all of these shortcomings Zinc has, you’re still right about it, most of the things AIR does currently Zinc can do as well. But it can sure be a major pain in the ass to have to implement them in it. So even if all AIR ever becomes is a replacement for Zinc I would still welcome it and find it useful.

    Regarding your thoughts on AIR fitting into the enterprise, I don’t really see how it fits either, but I don’t think its intended purpose is to create industrial strength desktop apps. I think its intended to bring browser based apps offline, and give them a little bit more access to the machine than you can get in the browser.

    I think you need to give it a bit more time before pronouncing it useless. Once a 1.0 version hits the streets and we see how fast market penetration is occuring then it will be time to determine if we’ve got another Central on our hands.

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