Thoughts on the new Adobe AIR 2.0

I attended a webinar this morning on the new capabilities of Adobe AIR 2.0.

AIR is an acronym that stands for “Adobe Integrated Runtime”. Basically, Adobe has provided a way for Flash, Flex and HTML/JavaScript developers to create standalone applications for desktops and mobile devices.

Some of the immediate advantages I see of having a desktop application vs. a web application are:

  • Being able to access and save files from a hard drive or removable storage device
  • Not being dependent upon the network to have the application work
  • Recording audio straight to the hard drive

In the past, I’ve used Runtime Revolution to create quick little utilities to help fix problems with large text files. Usually these files are in a CSV or XML format and some of the data needs to be modified. I can see creating AIR apps to allow me to quickly and easily parse the data and make the changes I need. At the university, we work a lot with external media files. Sometimes, no matter how often we stress the importance of following specifications we find we need to change the names of the files to match our naming convention. Again, I can see an AIR app helping us out with changing hundreds of file names to match our spec.

Our campus has areas where the wireless network is not available. Sometimes we need our applications to work without internet access. An example of this is a performance rating system we are working on with the School of Music. Some of the concert halls don’t have wireless access. By using an AIR application we’ll first be able to determine if there is a network connection. If a connection is not available, the application will save the ratings data onto the local hard drive of the computer. Later, when the faculty is back in the office, the data can be synchronized to an online database.

Recording audio to the hard drive may not seem like a very important feature, but for some of the educational applications we are working on I see great potential. We’ve built a few language learning applications. Quite a few of these apps include large collections of audio clips, usually of natives speaking words or phrases. In the past, the recording and editing of those clips have been time consuming. Quite often the audio editing team doesn’t speak the language, so at times we find errors in the audio or our files get out of sync with our naming convention. I envision an audio recording AIR app were words and phrases are fed to the screen from a database. The expert records the word or phrase with the app, then previews the recorded audio for accuracy. They can re-record if necessary. Saving the audio clip will save the file in the correct folder with the correct name and that path can be saved to the database if need be.

These are just a couple of ideas I came up with watching the AIR 2.0 webinar. Now it’s time to get to work!

If you’d like to know more about the new features of Adobe AIR, please see the following links.