Adobe AIR - Developing cross platform applications

Adobe AIR - Developing cross platform applications
Adobe AIR is a cross-platform runtime that enables you to use your existing Flash/ActionScript or HTML/JavaScript development skills and tools to build and deploy applications, games, and videos outside the browser and on mobile devices. The Adobe® AIR® runtime enables developers to package the same code into native apps for Windows and Mac OS desktops as well as iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire, Nook Tablet, and other Android™ devices, reaching the mobile app stores for over 500 million devices.
Adobe AIR - Developing cross platform applications
With AIR, Adobe intends to provide a versatile runtime-environment that allows existing Flash, ActionScript, or HTML and JavaScript code to construct Internet-based applications that have many of the characteristics of more traditional desktop-like programs. Adobe positions AIR as a browser-less runtime for RIAs that can be deployed onto the desktop, rather than as a full-fledged application framework. An application deployed in a browser does not require installation, while one deployed with AIR requires that the application be packaged, digitally signed, and installed on the user's local file system. This provides access to local storage and file systems, while browser-deployed applications are more limited in where and how data can be accessed and stored.

Adobe AIR internally uses Adobe Flash Player as the runtime environment, and ActionScript 3 as the sole programming language. Flash applications must specifically be built for the Adobe AIR runtime in order to utilize additional features provided, such as file-system integration, native-client extensions, native window/screen integration, taskbar/dock integration, and hardware integration with connected Accelerometer and GPS devices. AIR enables applications to work with data in multiple different ways, including using local files, local SQLite databases (for which AIR has inbuilt support), a database server via web services, or the encrypted local store included with AIR.

Desktop Platforms

The latest version of Adobe AIR, Version 3, contains Adobe Flash Player 11, and is available for Windows (XP and newer) and OS X. Official support for desktop Linux distributions ceased in June 2011 with version 2.6.

In January 2009, Adobe claimed that there were over 100 million installations of Adobe AIR worldwide, and that "the majority of AIR runtime installations occur at the time the first AIR application is installed by a user". Adobe AIR is also included with all downloaded installations of Adobe Reader 9 (released in July, 2008), Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, with no option for exclusion either in the download or in the installation.

Mobile Platforms

Adobe AIR applications can be published as native phone applications on certain supported mobile operating systems, such as Android (ARM Cortex-A8 and above), Apple iOS and BlackBerry Tablet OS.

Application Development

ActionScript

Adobe AIR applications can be built either with the Adobe Flex Framework, or without. The framework is an integrated collection of stylable Graphical User Interface, data manipulation and networking components, and applications built upon it are known as "Flex" applications. Applications built without the framework depend entirely on the developer's own skills and artistic abilities, and are commonly known as "pure ActionScript" projects.
In both methods, developers can access the full Flash Player set of functionalities, including text, vector graphics, bitmap graphics, video, audio, camera and microphone support, among others. Adobe AIR also includes additional features such as file system integration, native extensions, native desktop integration, and hardware integration with connected devices.
Adobe provides two ways of developing AIR applications in ActionScript:

  1. Adobe Flash Builder (formerly Adobe Flex Builder)
  2. Adobe Flash CS4 or newer

Third-party development environments that target the AIR runtime are also available:

  1. FlashDevelop, an open-source Flash ActionScript IDE, which includes a debugger for AIR applications
  2. FDT by PowerFlasher Solutions, a commercial ActionScript IDE
  3. CodeDrive, an extension to Microsoft Visual Studio for ActionScript 3 development and debugging

JavaScript

Adobe AIR supports a subset of JavaScript, which does not support dynamic execution of code when running in the application sandbox. According to Adobe, this restriction is designed to prevent malicious remote content from attacking a user's system. Due to this restriction, JavaScript frameworks that make use of dynamic JavaScript functions like eval() were not initially compatible with Adobe AIR.

Dreamweaver CS4/CS3 requires an additional extension to compile AIR applications, as does Flash CS3 in the form of an update. The cross-platform nature of the runtime means any HTML editor, coupled with the AIR SDK, can create AIR applications.
Tags: Adobe Air
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