Adobe has released a free beta version of Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR), marking a critical stage in its project to bring rich web applications to the desktop.
Formerly known by the Apollo codename, AIR is an application runtime that works across operating systems and lets developers use familiar tools such as HTML, Ajax and Adobe’s Flash and Flex to write applications. A full release is scheduled for the fourth quarter.
Ben Forsaith, Adobe business development manager, said AIR will join “the best of the web and the best of the desktop”. A practical example could be a contact database for the Salesforce.com platform that could be updated by a field sales or service rep and synchronised online at a later time.
Forsyth added that unnamed companies are at work on word-processor and presentations packages written for AIR so users could access productivity tools in a manner most convenient to them. Such developments could calm concerns that web-based apps could suffer from latency issues.
Adobe is not alone in seeing the virtue of an environment where applications can run inside or outside the browser. Google’s announcement of Gears at the end of May has a similar aim but Forsaith said that Adobe and Google will not be competing.
“If you develop for Gears you will have a similar or identical API to AIR,” he added. He also dismissed suggestions of competition from Microsoft, saying that “Silverlight is very much inside the browser”.