Product review: Adobe breathes fresh AIR into RIA
Adobe's rich Internet application toolkit lifts Flash and AJAX out of the browser and onto the desktop; debut release shines with light technical requirements and good features, though security and OS integration could go deeper
Adobe AIR 1.0 brings new hope to Web developers looking to combine the global connectedness of browser-based applications with the persistence and functionality of first-class, local desktop apps.
The results can be spectacular. AIR applications can take on either a custom or native appearance. In particular, data-driven dashboards really sing when freed from browser constraints, as Nasdaq’s Market Replay application demonstrates.
[ See why Tom Yager is a big fan of AIR. And how InfoWorld used AIR technology in its Windows Sentinel service. See our special report on rich Web development tools including reviews of Microsoft Silverlight, Curl, WaveMaker Visual AJAX Studio, JackBe Presto, Nexaweb Enterprise, Backbase, Bindows, Tibco General Interface, and more open source AJAX toolkits than you can shake a div at. ]
The resulting application gains access to OS features such as dragging and dropping to and from the local file system, clipboard access for cutting and pasting between AIR and other applications, network connectivity, encrypted local storage, and perhaps most noteworthy, offline functionality. Thanks to AIR's persistent, local SQLite data store, AIR apps continue to function without a network connection.
Further, AIR doesn't require Web developers to learn anything new. They can easily create AIR apps using the tools and techniques they already know. And because AIR is cross-OS compatible, the same application code can be deployed to Windows, Mac, and eventually Linux systems. An alpha version of AIR for Linux is available at Adobe Labs.