What is Larry Thinking? #11 => Adobe AIR

March 23, 2008

In this edition…

About this Newsletter

I’ll start off with my traditional suggestion that I’m going to try to keep this newsletter short. I rarely do, but I think it’s something that I ought to say, maybe even try. This newsletter focuses on the Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR), which I’ve been playing with for almost a year now and working around the clock with for the past three months. The book I’m writing on the subject is almost done and should be out in in early May. I’m going to give away 10-15 copies in this newsletter. I’m also going to be doing a half-day workshop on Adobe AIR at the Voices That Matter Web Design conference in Nashville, Tennessee (US) in June, so I preview that opportunity. Finally, I add a few words in this newsletter about the Adobe AIR experience, both in writing the book and in using the technology. As always, thanks to the feedback and questions people have previously submitted and please keep it coming! And, of course, thanks for your interest in what I have to say.

On the Web => Larry Appearing at the Voices That Matter Web Design Conference

Voices That Matter is a relatively new series of conferences put on by the publisher Pearson Education (who owns Peachpit Press, for whom I do most of my book writing). Their first Web Design conference was held in the Fall 2007 and was very well received. Their second Web Design conference is being held in Nashville, Tennessee (US) from Wednesday, June 11th, to Friday, June 13th, 2008. On Tuesday, June 10th, there are four pre-conference workshops, one of which is “Adobe AIR for Developers”, with yours truly as the presenter. It runs from 9:00AM until 12:30PM. You can view a description of the workshop at http://voicesthatmatter.com/webdesign2008/workshops.aspx#adobeair. Information about the conference as a whole is available at the Web site. You can register for the entire conference, for just one or two workshops, or for the conference plus one or two workshops. If you use the code WDDSPKR (case-sensitive), you’ll receive a $200 (US) discount, and if you register on or before May 2nd, the rates are discounted another $100-$200 (US). I don’t do many engagements like this anymore (since my kids were born), so I’m excited about this rare opportunity to get out and interact with others and to show people how they can be using Adobe AIR. If you have any questions about this workshop, let me know.

What is Larry Thinking=> The Adobe Air Experience

Well, the first official release of Adobe AIR came out in late February and by now I’ve played around with pretty much every feature to quite an extent. Overall I would say I’m still very pleased, if not even more excited, about the technology. It’s great to be able to easily whip out cross-platform desktop applications. Creating programs that run equally well on both Macs and Windows is a huge task and creating a graphical program for any operating system isn’t very simple either. But with Adobe AIR, if you can create a Web page, you can make an application. I just finished the chapter on networking and it’s easy to see how you might use a desktop application to interact with a Web site. eBay, NASDAQ, and others are already doing this. I don’t know much about, or do much with, marketing but I can see how companies could use this technology to improve branding and user experience.

So far, most of the downsides that I’ve seen involve the poor documentation and drastic changes made during the various beta releases. Most of these problems have been solved by now and as more people use and write about AIR, there should be more and better documentation. And, for the most part, I think these downsides affected me most as a writer, than it will the developers and end users. Of course, users will need to install the AIR runtime in order to install an AIR application, but the runtime is free, only needs to be installed once, and can be installed along with an application (part of a seamless install feature). Adobe hasn’t released Linux support yet, which they were hoping to do with the first official release, but hopefully they’ll get to that soon.

With respect to the AIR features, the ability to create your own menus and windows is great, making the application feel very natural (although with my limited graphics skills, custom windows isn’t my strong suit). The ability to work with the computer’s files and directories is nice and there are tons of networking possibilities. I just wrote up examples on how you can download or upload files, retrieve content from a Web site, or submit data to an online PHP page. AIR also comes with a client-side database (the excellent SQLite), that really opens up the possibilities.

Overall, this was probably one of the hardest books I’ve written in a while, but I’m pleased with the results and, again, with the technology as a whole.

Book Giveaway => “Adobe AIR: Visual QuickPro Guide” and others

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My Book News => “Adobe AIR: Visual QuickPro Guide” Available Update

The first edition of my “Adobe AIR: Visual QuickPro Guide” is complete and I’m about two-thirds of the way through the rewrites. According to Amazon, the book should be available on May 4th (which should more or less be correct). Amazon currently has it listed at $26.09 (US). I know that the price of the book did go up a couple of dollars but that’s because I added 100 pages of content. The book, including my most recent changes, is also available to be read online thanks to the Rough Cuts series. The URL is http://safari.informit.com/9780321524614.