Adobe Renames Apollo Software ‘Adobe AIR’

Adobe is giving its Apollo cross-operating system software for building rich Internet applications the formal name of Adobe AIR, or Adobe Integrated Runtime.

In an interview with eWEEK, Kevin Lynch, senior vice president and chief software architect at Adobe, said the San Jose, Calif.-based company has released a beta of Adobe AIR, based on feedback from the alpha version released earlier.

Adobe AIR has the same database that exists in Google Gears, “and we’re going to align the APIs between Adobe AIR and Google Gears,” Lynch said.

In addition, Adobe on June 11 announced the public beta of Adobe Flex 3 software, codenamed “Moxie,” the cross-platform, free open source framework for creating RIAs (rich Internet applications). This release adds new user interface capabilities, enhanced developer productivity, desktop deployment and enterprise testing and performance tools, Lynch said.

Click here to read more about Google Gears’ impact on Apollo.

The Flex 3 public beta also marks the first significant deliverable for the open source Flex project, beginning with the availability of nightly builds and a public bug database, he said.

“We got more improvement for AJAX [Asynchronous JavaScript and XML] developers to more easily write applications for AIR,” Lynch said. “We’re also looking into authoring tools for Dreamweaver and Flash authoring. But mostly we have PDF support, local database supprt, drag-and-drop to drag AIR applications onto desktops for more integration to the desktop.”

Moreover, he said, what Adobe is doing with Google Gears “is we’re working on adding local database support for AIR, so the APIs will make this commitment across Gears for AIR and for desktop applications.”

Gears is a plug-in to the browser and AIR works outside the browser, Lynch said. It fills in a feature in the browser, he said.

“The overall trend of RIA and Web applications puts pressure on Microsoft and they’re starting to change a bit to react to that trend,” Lynch said. “I think choice is good because people benefit when there are more solutions. The amount of attention to the RIA space is a good thing. Fortunately, Adobe was there really early and we changed our applications to allow these things to be done.”

The Flex 3 beta features more data synchronization and data management capabilities, and more support for building Apollo applications, he said.

Lynch said the new name for the technology formerly known as Apollo was selected for several reasons, one because with AIR it connotes ubiquity.

However, “we tried to get Apollo itself, but it was too widely used for too many other things,” he said.

Adobe AIR is a cross-operating system application runtime that allows developers to use HTML/CSS, AJAX, Adobe Flash and Adobe Flex to extend RIAs to the desktop. New features in the Adobe AIR beta include an embedded local database, PDF support, enhanced capabilities for JavaScript developers, and deeper integration with Adobe Flex. The beta version of Adobe AIR and the Adobe AIR SDK (software developer’s kit) can be downloaded for free here.

Key elements of Adobe AIR are open source, including the WebKit HTML engine, the ActionScript Virtual Machine (“Tamarin” project) and SQLite local database functionality.

Adobe also announced the opening of the Adobe AIR Developer Derby, a contest to showcase creative applications. Adobe will award prizes in five categories and a grand prize for the best overall application. Winners will be announced at Adobe’s MAX 2007 Sept. 30-Oct. 3 in Chicago.

Adobe is also launching the “On AIR” bus tour with 18 North American stops for developers to jumpstart their work with Adobe AIR, the company said. The tour kicks off in Seattle July 10, with the final stop at the Adobe MAX conference in Chicago Sept. 30.

Meanwhile, Flex 3 includes major advancements in the area of designer and developer workflow, including powerful integration with Creative Suite 3 software design tools that allow for direct import of CS3 assets into FlexAdobe, officials said. Other design enhancements include deeper support for visual skinning and styling, full language intelligence support for CSS, and the Flex Builder 3 Design View, which lets developers edit design and layout for complex applications, the company said.

In addition, Adobe recently introduced Adobe LiveCycle ES (Enterprise Suite), an integrated family of software for automating processes that help businesses and governments more effectively engage with customers, citizens, partners and suppliers, the company said. LiveCycle ES integrates the capabilities of Adobe Flex and PDF technologies, while leveraging the reach of Adobe Flash Player and Adobe Reader to enable a new class of customer-engagement applications that connect people inside and outside organizations to internal information and processes, the company said.

“We’ve been hard at work for the last few weeks building out our support for the new Adobe AIR application runtime,” said Paul Colton, CEO and founder of Aptana, in San Mateo, Calif. “We’ve created a new plug-in for the Aptana IDE that adds the following features: AIR Project contains all necessary files for out-of-the box launching of Adobe AIR applications; Export wizard for bundling and deploying Adobe AIR applications; Easy import of Ajax libraries into Adobe AIR projects; Integrated content assist for Adobe AIR SDK; and help and online documentation.”

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