Adobe AIR Bus Rolls On

Adobe's bus tour promotes building applications on the company's AIR system using Flash, HTML, Flex and AJAX.

BOSTON—Football broadcaster John Madden doesnt have one thing on Adobe Systems.

When Adobe decided to share word of its new AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) technology, the company settled on an 18-city bus tour as a primary mode of delivering information. Madden, an iconic NFL announcer and voice of a popular video game series who has an aversion to air travel, will only travel via bus to the games he calls. Adobes AIR tour also is bus-bound.

Mike Chambers, principal product manager for developer relations at Adobe, spoke at a session at the Flashforward conference for Adobe developers and designers and gave an overview of the Adobe onAir bus.

Chambers said about six months ago, "we had a launch event about Apollo [the former code name for AIR] and a lot of people asked us if wed have an event like that in their town. And that gave us the idea to take it on the road. So we came up with the idea of doing a bus tour."

AIR is a cross-operating system runtime that allows developers to use their existing Web development skills to build and deploy rich Internet applications to the desktop, Chambers said.

"Its not just about Flash; you dont need to know any Flash," he said. The two primary methods for building applications on AIR are through Flash with ActionScript 3.0 or using HTML from the open-source WebKit HTML engine, Chambers said.

However, users can build AIR applications using Flash or HTML, or Adobes Flex or AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML), Adobe officials said.

And "because AIR is a runtime and WebKit and the Flash Player are integrated at low levels, you can mix and match technologies," Chambers said.

Meanwhile, Chambers said the Adobe onAir bus itself contains several applications, including some to enable people to track the bus as it makes its journey.

"The bus has its own API," he said. "Theres a Web site for the bus, and theres a live page with live feeds from the bus."

To keep the staff on the bus going, Chambers said the rolling code house is stocked with vital ingredients like Red Bull and candy such as Nerds, although Chambers admits that those staples "got old" and the next time Adobe might ask "Whole Foods to sponsor the bus so we can eat better."

The bus also features Xbox consoles, stereos, a library and PCs connected to the Internet via EVDO cards.

Among the computers on the bus is a Windows machine for live video streaming, and a Mac that runs two AIR applications that interfaces with a GPS device and loads and sends data about the location of the bus.


Click here to read more about the future of Adobe Flash, Flex and AIR.

One application is known as AIR-Tracker, which is polled once every minute from a scheduler on the Mac and uploads GPS data on the location of the bus.

The bus is a good environment to examine some of the features of AIR, one of which is the ability to support applications in both online and offline modes.

Chambers said as the bus travels through some stretches, "We have points where we have no connectivity or very, very low connectivity and we have to be able to deal with that. So we have to be able to handle the problem of synching data with the server."

Meanwhile, the team on the bus, which can only carry a maximum of 10 people comfortably, built an AIR application called Flump, which stands for "Flickr Dump" and is an application for downloading images from Flickr, Chambers said. The team has amassed a set of more than 7,600 images.

Meanwhile, Chambers also demonstrated an application called Pownce, which is a "social networking site for sharing things like files, images, links and messages," he said. Pownce is developed by a small company known as Megatechtronium, and the desktop application for Pownce is written using AIR.

For his part, Chambers said the sweet spot for AIR applications "is not just desktop applications that try to replace Web applications, but applications that complement Web apps—leveraging apps in the cloud, but enhancing the experience on the desktop."


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