Bridging the gap between desktop and Web applications, Adobe Systems is set to ship today its AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) 1.0 technology for melding applications from both of these realms. Formerly known by its code name Apollo, the free technology already is being used in applications at places such as NASDAQ and AOL.
AIR is a desktop runtime that allows Web applications to be run on the desktop in a disconnected fashion, said Michele Turner, vice president of the Adobe platform business unit. "We really believe the innovation in technology today is … on the Web and that the desktop has stagnated over the last couple of years," she said.
[ Learn how Adobe AIR compares to other rich-media and Web apps tools. ]
Desktop applications, in turn, update applications automatically and have branding. AIR applications have a Web look and feel. "We're seeing a number of hybrid applications today where developers are writing AIR applications and they also have a Web version of that," Turner said. AIR's capabilities include capturing data, pulling it into an Excel file and then uploading that onto a Web application.
"AIR is a way of packaging up Flex applications," said analyst Michael Cote of Redmonk. "It has more of a [focus] on running on the desktop and integrating more closely with the desktop rather than just being a Web application," he added. Flash content plus HTML and PDF could be packaged into one application, said Adobe's Turner. Or a Flash, Flex, or AJAX developer can take an existing application, and with minor updates, run them on the desktop.
Early adopters create a range of applications
NASDAQ is using AIR in an application that provides "instant replay for the [stock] market," said Claude Courbois, associate vice president in the NASDAQ data products division.
To be officially launched within a couple of weeks, the NASDAQ Market Replay application pulls stock data off the Internet to help ensure that buyers are getting the best price on a stock. [Editor's note: NASDAQ launched the application on Monday] Users can get a realistic replay of trading activity and zoom in and out of pricing details. The application essentially serves as a desktop application that reaches out to where NASDAQ stages data.
"This a powerful tool for going back to a certain point in time in the market and comparing the trade price that prevailed at that point," Courbois said. NASDAQ has been "thrilled" with AIR although it has had challenges like any other development project, Courbois said. These have had to do with complexities of NASDAQ data. Still, NASDAQ plans to build other applications using AIR, Courbois added. "AIR has definitely opened up a door for us in terms of delivery of data."
The New York Times Co. is featuring AIR capabilities in its ShifD Web application for moving content between devices.