Tag Archives: AIR

Adobe MAX Europe, J-1

I guess many people are going to write or have already written blog posts with a similar title. But hey, this is a big event for me. I’m so happy my company offered me this reward, really. I know it can seem hard to understand how one can be so excited about attending technical conferences all day. But discovering and learning new technologies is so central to why I love software development, and Adobe stuff has become so important in my “artistic” evolution lately, that I really can’t wait.

Amongst others, I hope to learn more about Flex 4, Thermo now known as Catalyst, Flash 10 and its possibilities, Adobe AIR, but more importantly I have a few questions for Adobe guys, especially:

  • Open Source is not just about a license and a Subversion repository, it’s also about community and listening to it. And when I see some of the highest voted bugs in JIRA deferred and deferred again, I would love to understand what is their policy regarding community feedback.
  • Portability is obviously a big argument in favor of Flex, but I still wonder why things like mouse wheel are not natively supported on the Mac. Fortunately there is a workaround but it’s still a pain.
  • How about backward compatibility? A year back, I wanted to propose Flex as an implementation technique for the UI of the operational monitoring application at Thalys, but we argued with a colleague about the governance problem: contrary to Sun Microsystems with Java, Adobe has never clearly committed to maintain backward compatibility. Of course, let’s not forget that some people are still migrating their JDK 1.4 to Java 5 because they had variables called “enum”… Joke aside, I was kind of disappointed to see that the application I’m working on right now worked with Flash 9 but has a bug with Flash 10 because of the changes they made with FileReference API. Hopefully, this will be fixed with Flex 4, but in the meantime we’re still struggling.

Over all, it’s the first technical conference I attend outside of Belgium and Javapolis (now Devoxx), and I hope that the organization will at least match the one of the BeJUG.

The 2 weeks to come are going to be legen… wait for it… DAAAAARRYYYYYY!

Penetration in the AIR

In my humble opinion, Adobe has done a great job in encouraging developers to consider AIR as a desktop application development platform. Applications are sexy, you can leverage your HTML/Ajax/CSS skills, and now with Flex Builder 3 and AIR Introspector in the pipeline, we have everything we need… well, ALMOST everything we need.

But of course, having everything that we need to build AIR applications is not enough, because we’re not the only people involved. We have other actors to convince, mainly our bosses and our users. Our bosses because when you’re building a product for a company, adding new technologies like Flex, ActionScript and AIR, has consequences in terms of maintainability, in terms of the number of resources you can find on the job market, in terms of the budget that has to be assigned to training. For that of course, the reference argument is very efficient, and Adobe has done a great job on that too. When you can tell your boss that NASDAQ, eBay, Google and many other big companies they’re admiring are using such technologies, it helps a lot in convincing them.

But I think that there is one target that is still to be addressed: users. Of course, when the application you’re building is targetted at corporate users within the company, once your manager is convinced, it’s almost done. It’s just a matter of adding the AIR runtime to the next company-wide software update. But what if your users are normal people who don’t care about installing a runtime, who are even afraid of installing new stuff when it’s not smileys or search bar addons?  When you build a product for those people, natural penetration rate is vital. And from the last figures we got, “only” half-a-million people have already installed the beta AIR runtime. And something needs to be done to encourage people to install the final version, to improve this penetration rate.

I asked the question to James Ward and Serge Jespers, and their answer was basically “it’s free, we’re talking with Sony and for the rest, if you want it in Windows or MacOSX, mail Bill or Steve and ask them”. And that’s an annoying answer. Because I can’t believe that those companies don’t talk to each other, especially Apple and Adobe. But it looks like when they do, they’re ashamed of it, because they are competitors. It’s like partnerships and synergies are a shame.

Well, let’s hope that all those shiny applications will encourage people to get the runtime and it can be even more interesting to develop new shiny applications, and so goes the virtuous circle.

What do you think? What could be done to spread the AIR runtime?

PS: If you’re like me and you really want to have EVERYTHING to build Flex and AIR applications, you can’t vote for the JIRA issue because it’s been deferred. But James told us that you can file a new issue referencing this one and they will add a vote to it. And who knows? Maybe they will get it done before Flex 4 ;o)