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Adobe's AIR: Niche or the future of desktop development?
October 2, 2007
Adobe expands online services, woos designers with Thermo
October 2, 2007
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So it's just for designers?
Lynch: Exactly. It's for people who are using tools like Illustrator or Photoshop and have a background in interface design and want to create a great experience for someone. But they are primarily a designer. Right now they work in partnership with developers and the way workflow works today, you create a comp--a composition--in Photoshop, a picture of what you'd like, and you hand it over to a developer to try to make it look like that. We've made some of the workflow work more seamlessly already.
But what Thermo does is it makes it so the designer can not only draw what the application looks like, but they can also add the interactivity for how it works.
The magic of what we're showing with Thermo right now is that you can select elements that are just pictures on the drawing and you can say this actually represents a list box, or this represents a text edit field and we put the logic to convert the picture into a work component.
To fully complete an application you need to connect data--connecting back into Web services, loading XML. Thermo doesn't go that far.
Lynch: No, it's not a concern. First of all, AIR supports Ajax and Flash and Flex and PDF. So if you're using any of those technologies, AIR is designed to run that code. If you're purely an Ajax developer, AIR is fully supportive of that and you can create first-class applications with that. I talk about betting on the Web and that means both HTML and Ajax and Flash and PDF--all the stuff that people are really using on the Web today. To the extent that people are building applications (for the Web) I think...it's the right direction and we're going to work to enable that.
I hope that Google starts seeing more opportunities to use interactive media in application design, especially as they start producing more sophisticated applications. In terms of usability of those applications in the user interface design, I think we can help with some richer runtime technology. There's also a philosophical choice to how much you want to use a rich interface or keep it extremely bare.
Do you see more potential in the enterprise of these kinds of applications?
Lynch: AIR's value proposition is very similar to enterprises as it is to end-users. You can use those same technologies but deploy them as desktop applications and one of the things that's important in enterprises, is that you can update those applications from your server where it came from. Just like the Web, you can get that new application with auto update so it solves the deployment problem. But you also get to have desktop integration, which enterprises want to have. We kind of lost that (with the Web).
Flash is the dominant video format on the Web. Now Microsoft has Silverlight and they are signing on partners. How do you want to stay ahead?
Lynch: Right now, Flash is far in the lead so it will be difficult for any technology to get the kind of adoption that Flash has right now on the Web. We were able to start in the early days of the Web and there's a lot of use of it that has caused its adoption.
Now we're in a situation where we can add more functionality into Flash, and in a year we get 90 percent of the world to update. No other client technology is in that situation right now, not Windows or Internet Explorer or any other technology. So it's going to be tough.
But we're not resting on our laurels at all. The Flash team is moving very fast.
Where do you expect AIR to go? In a couple of years, will most applications be written with AIR?
Lynch: I hope so! Potentially. Because most applications are being written for the Web and we're bringing those applications to the desktop with AIR, there's nothing really else out there right now (for that). I think that AIR is positioned early to really be a leader on that, kind of like Flash was positioned early as the interactive multimedia leader.