Adobe AIR : What is Good and Bad

Adobe AIR

Cross Platform application development is the need of the hour. There are a number of development platforms available to choose from and each platform offers you a different user base. Cross platform development tools allow you to port your code across platforms, while allowing you to retain individual platform specific UI and UX. Adobe AIR marks Adobe’s entrance into the cross platform development tools arena and in this column we will look into whether it poses a viable development solution.

Adobe’s AIR (Adobe Integrated Run-time) has become a popular cross platform runtime system built for creating  rich internet applications which also run as desktop and mobile apps. This uses  Adobe Flash, Apache Flex, HTML, JavaScript and XML. Applications for  Windows, Mac OS and some mobile operating systems such as BlackBerry Tablet OS, iOS and Android. diffivult

What is to Like

  • Extremely quick execution is ensured by ActionScript 3.0 which Just-In-time compiler.
  • Cross platform and availability for mobile ensures a broader reach and easy portability.
  • Flex and HTML applications can easily be converted into AIR apps.
  • Easy installation.
  • AIR applications use SQLite, a fast local database.
  • Effective synchronization services allow offline support for connected applications.
  • Design and multimedia is the biggest advantage of this platform. Flash highly allows highly customized UIs, animation, sound and video. AIR comes with a media player built in. 
  • Declarative programming through Flex enables you to easily create GUI elements and consume components.

The Not-So-Good Aspects

  • Extensibility is an issue you will probably face while creating an AIR app. AIR apps do not integrate or work well with other applications. This can be quite a hindrance while working on desktop applications.
  • SQLite is the only database service available to these apps.
  • No support for enterprise deployment.
  • Licensing issues will also plague app developers who use AIR. There is no clear methodology available for the commercial distribution of AIR products while protecting it from unlicensed deployment. 
  • Lack of UI standards is another worrying aspect of AIR development. We have seen divergent development on the web, and now we will see it on desktop applications as well.

I do recommend you spend some time looking into Adobe AIR for it might just offer you all your development needs.