Saturday, October 06, 2007

Adobe AIR: Interesting!

Just viewed a screencast of Aptana's support for Adobe AIR. Although I had heard of Adobe AIR before, I didn't pay too much attention. Now I get it and think it's a significant piece of technology.

I compare it with Mac OS/X Dashboard Widgets (widgets). Widgets are a great way of building small applications using standard web technologies such HTML, CSS and JavaScript on Mac OS/X (will this change when Safari for Windows ships?). When I learned what widgets really are, I applauded Apple for doing a great job of keeping it simple and the same as the rest of the web: a widget is just a standard HTML file that has more privileges when run as a widget. Now comes Adobe AIR. It uses the same approach but goes farther and is a cross-platform way of building sophisticated desktop applications using standard web technologies. Wonderful!

A few years ago when people were talking about RIAs (rich Internet applications), I was concerned that when people rushed to building RIAs using Flash, they would build a second web, because Flash components are not accessible using standard DOM. I haven't revisited this point in AIR to see whether they have improved or not. But I'd like to see they make a Flash/Flex/AIR application's components accessible through standard DOM APIs so that these components are part of the web as we know. One example to illustrate what I am talking about is, if you see a link in a Flash/Flex/AIR application running inside a browser, you should be able to right-click it and see the menu with choices such as "Open in a new window", "Open in a new tab", "Copy link location", etc. This should come automatically by integration with the DOM in the browser. This is what I mean by not building a second web that is walled off from the first.

In any case, Adobe AIR is worth keeping an eye on at least.