My LOLCats viewer built in AIR is now available at the Adobe AIR MarketPlace. Check it out. Oh Hai, You Can Haz LOLCats From Da AIR.
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?
I’m currently downloading the Flex Beta 3 and the new Air SDK. Woohoo! I have a H.264 project I need to run through it. Just in time for my deadlines.
I need to get H.264 in an Air app… Anyone have info when this will be possible? I have heard Air Beta 3 will address this, but there is no date set as far as I can tell. I have an HD video kiosk I’m working on, and would love to use a 100% Adobe solution… but at this time I’m going to have to rely on Multidmedia’s Zinc to compile an EXE to run WMVHD or H.264 through DirectShow…. clunky at best. If the upate to Air would come out, I could skip that entire mess and simply deploy an Air app.
FlashGuru (Guy Watson) has always made some of the best Flash extensions, commands, components, out there, and this is no different… His new Apollo for Flash CS3 extension is absolutely brilliant. Opening the door to Apollo for all the Flash deselopers out there is something that Adobe should have done themselves (who knows, maybe they planned to and were just beaten to the punch). Unfortunately, at this time it is Windows only and doesn’t actually package up .air installers, but its a great start. Check it out: FlashGuru Consulting ¬ª Create Apollo Apps in Flash CS3
Yet another reason why working in the Flash community is so great. Flash CS3 is out for a couple days or so, and voila… people are already extending it and making it better for the entire community.
Techcrunch had a post on the landscape of the semi-connected web application yesterday, talking about Firefox 3′s local storage and Joyent’s Slingshot as competitors to the Flash/Flex/Apollo combo… Seems a bit odd to call a web browser specific technology a competitor to a cross platform runtime, but oh well. As far as Joyent’s Slingshot goes, the screenshots are nice looking, but I have to guess there are probably 100 times more Flash/Flex developers out there than Ruby on Rails developers.
At this point, I’m not sure if any of these technologies are going to really stick, but with the Flash platform’s entrenched market lead, I’d say Apollo has the best chance of doing it. Macromedia learned a lot from the smoking corpse of Central and I’d venture to say they have addressed most all of the issues associated with it. The development community seems to be a bit mixed. Many seem to think it’s the greatest thing since dot syntax or the v2 components, but some aren’t convinced yet.
I can’t see these other smaller niche development communities having the same sort of visible prescence out there. When you take into account that with the Flash platform, because of Flash’s strong graphic capabilities, any clients truly concerned about brand integrity and uniform presentation are going to most likely choose the clean vector art provided in Apollo. Firefox Local Storage and Slignshot still use the same tired old HTML/CSS combo that doesn’t have the wow IMHO.
When you approach it from a corporate IT perspective, I would speculate that Adobe’s software is going to get a green light to be installed on workgroup desktops before an opensource technology like Firefox 3 or a relatively unknown hosting provider (Joyent).
I’m sure someone closer to the project or more experienced with Apollo and the Flash Player will be able to explain this one to me. I downloaded the source to the Memory Monitor Component linked to on Lynch Consulting’s blog this morning. I created a nice little Apollo project in Flex Builder 2. I placed the component in the application. Ran it and found that Apollo .air apps don’t see the memory space used by the Flash player.
You can download my trial here and see the Lynch Consulting online demo of the SWF version here. I thought it would be cool to have a pocket Memory app to use for development, and maybe beef it up to have a FPS calculator, etc. I guess it makes sense that Apollo doesn’t know what Flash is doing, etc, but anyone that can shed more light on this would be appreciated.