Archive for September, 2007
I have decided to do a weekly showcase on this site. This will be a video showcase in which I will demo an AIR application of my choosing that I think is not only illustrative of what an AIR application can and should be, but is just plain cool and useful. If I have time, I may even interview some of the creators of these applications and get some insight into their work.
I have some ideas about which applications I am going to showcase first, and there are definitely quite a few to choose from now that the AIR Developer Derby has finally complete. But if you want to have your AIR application moved to the top of the list, or just want to make me aware of what you are working on, please feel free to contact me.
I will probably be starting this showcase next week, so keep an eye out here on my blog.
UPDATE: Looks like they fixed the page. Now go and try out their service and blog until your heart’s content! It does look like a great service on the surface. I will definitely be trying it out.
This week, TechCrunch’s TechCrunch40 conference is going on here in San Francisco and a number of new startups are launching their services. I started to sign up for one of them: Mint. Mint is an online money management application that looks well designed, simple, and easy to use. As I was signing up though, I noticed a particular checkbox with an agreement that I had never seen before: “I agree not to blog about or post screenshots of Mint.”
I am hoping this is just an overlooked feature that was for private testing before launch. I can’t think of any other reason they would have this. But, now I can’t sign up until they remove it. Neither will any of the other bloggers who may have been their best source of buzz! Hopefully they will fix this soon.
As I have been reading in many blog posts lately, I felt that I needed to make one point perfectly clear. Silverlight is not Microsoft’s answer to Adobe AIR, it is Microsoft’s competitor to the Flash Player. This means they now have a competitor to Flash in the browser. Sorry for the bold type, but I wanted to make sure my point was made. I know that many of the readers of my blog get this, but there still seems to be quite a bit of confusion.
Adobe AIR is a new technology that allows developers to take their web applications which were built using Ajax or Flash and move them outside of the browser where they can take advantage of desktop features such as file IO, system notifications, multiple windows, drag and drop, etc. I am not sure where the confusion is coming from, maybe just ignorance and the fact that Adobe AIR and Silverlight are getting a lot of press. But right now Microsoft does not have a cross platform runtime equivalent to AIR (not that I know of, I am willing to be proven wrong here if someone has that information.)
I am not trying to put down Silverlight here. Congrats to the Silverlight team, I am sure they are having some big parties this week after their launch. Silverlight is a good attempt at accomplishing some of the same functionality that we have provided in the Flash Player. But we do have a ten year head start and the Flash Player is installed on 98% of all PCs today (we just announced that Flash Player 9 is on over 90% of PCs.) But, we don’t take the competition or our current position in this market lightly.
As you can see by our recent announcements, such as the addition of H.264 to the Flash Player, we will continue to innovate and do everything we can to make Flash the best platform for building RIAs in the browser and now on the desktop within Adobe AIR. As Ted mentioned yesterday, we have a lot of things you will want to keep an eye on. Just wait until you see what we will be talking about at MAX!
I usually don’t delve into topics outside AIR, Flash, or Flex on this blog, but I just cant resist. To preface this, I am a very happy iPhone owner. The iPhone is missing a few features, but overall it is the best device I have ever used. Yesterday, Apple decided to drop the price by $200 to $399. And in celebration of this, all I see today is posts about how pissed off iPhone users are. Here is my statement to you: Get over it! I am sure that if you really want to, Apple will be happy to accept an extra $200 from you while making any future iPhone purchases.
Anyways, if you want see something else related to this whole debacle that will give you a good laugh, check out this article about how Apple and Nokia are trading barbs using AdWords.
When we are out talking to developers about AIR, we spend a lot of time discussing offline applications. AIR has a lot of functionality for building offline applications such as connectivity APIs and an embedded SQLite database engine. What we don’t focus on is how you actually approach architecting these applications. Not only do you need to consider how to architect your code, but how do you actually surface the functionality to the end user?
Google recently announced a new browser plugin that allows you to build offline applications within the browser called Google Gears. Much like AIR, Google Gears uses an embedded SQLite database to store data for offline access. But again it is up to the developer to consider how to architect their application to use this functionality effectively.
Although there are differences between the Google Gears and AIR implementations, the way you architect your application is going to be very similar. Google just recently published a case study of a startup called Remember the Milk that is using Google Gears to do offline data storage within its Ajax based task management application. Although this article is targeted at developers using Google Gears, there is a lot of information that will be valuable if you are developing a Flex, Flash, or Ajax based AIR application and want users to have access to online data when they are offline.
One thing I am asked about ever so often is the reasoning behind building a desktop runtime when over the last few years people have been moving to the web? Even though there are benefits to building purely web based applications using Flex, Ajax, or other similar technologies, you still are leaving a lot of functionality on the table when making that transition. The question is, what platform can I use to get the best of both the desktop and the browser? I believe AIR is the answer to that question and I think other people are starting to take notice.
BusinessWeek has a great article today that discusses exactly this issue. From the article:
Perhaps most important for developers, the desktop’s advantage is that it is still the first thing users see when they turn on their computer. If your icon is there, it’s more likely that a user will opt to use your product—rather than the myriad other programs on the Web. Says Kay of Finetune: “It’s not in a browser window that might get closed.”