Not a surprise happening, but a welcome one nonetheless, Adobe has introduced Flex 3 and AIR 1.0. This coincides with the first day of the 360 Flex conference, but it also comes a bit earlier than I had expected… My Flex Builder 3 beta wasn’t set to expire for a few more days. For a bit more info and some great quotes and some quick stats on the state of Flash/Flex developers vs. the number of .Net developers check out this article at the NYTimes. 1 million Flash/Flex develoeprs can’t be wrong, right? I guess they could when compared with the 2.2 million .Net folks out there with VisualStudio in hand. Time will tell, but I have a hunch that there will be enough demand out there that the ecosystem can support both tracks.
Can’t wait to see what appears in the coming weeks now that AIR is official and now a final release.¬† We have dabbled with it at Iona (even releasing an app for a client), but as some of you may have experienced, it’s pretty hard to recommend to a client that they deploy a application on Beta software. Even if that beta comes from Adobe. It was just safer to deploy a EXE compiled with Zinc. We now can give that some serious thought and make a recommendation with a¬† bit more confidence that AIR is the best way to go. I know I like the idea of not needing to purchase an extra IDE for compiling and finishing the delivery of an app/RIA. The fact that AIR’s SDK is free and only requires a certificate if the client needs to have that extra level of security when deploying is great. Previously, when appropriate/necessary if we needed to hand over the source code for a Flash/Flex app that got compiled in Zinc, it was always a weird conversation…
Us: “Well, here is your source code, enjoy.”
Them: “What is this ‘.zinc’ file?”
Us: “Yeah, you need to use that to compile the .exe using Multidmedia Zinc, here’s the link.”
Them: “So you didn’t use Flash?”
Us: “Not for the final compile. We needed to extend Flash to have file I/O, a custom icon, window, right click functionality, etc. etc. etc.”
Them: “So we need to buy another app?”
Us: “Yeah, pretty much.”
Them: “Hmm, suppose we’ll have to run this by IT. Blech.”
That is, if it even got that far… A couple times the conversation just disintegrated into some sort of Abbott and Costello routine where the “Who’s on First?” was replced by some never ending cycle of technobabble and three letter acronyms. Whether it was Zinc, Jugglor, SwfStudio, Screenweaver or any other SWF to EXE tool, it was often a point of contention during the delivery phase a of a project. What one to use? What one does the client know? None, okay… which one would they be willing to accept, support, maintain, etc… Tough call.
Now, that call doesn’t really have to made. Clients know Adobe. Acceptance qualms are pretty much taken care of there. Of course the whole “IR” part of AIR is a little foreign, but if you can get the runtime installed on your client’s machines, or accepted via a badge install, etc., the path for corporate IT approval just got a little easier. This article, sent to me by a colleague at Bradley, outlines just how difficult that can be and how things need to change for brands to succeed and grow. Anything that eases that step may be worth for that fact alone.
How about you? Are you transferring any/all app development to AIR? Are you still planning on using other SWF to EXE tools?