Adobe Air

This new innovative product by ADOBE has yet again made a stand in the Technology arena, ADOBE AIR is an application using which we can build 3D graphics with very minimal cost of performance and memory.

What is Adobe AIR?

Adobe AIR is a virtual machine that runs AIR applications. That may not mean much to you so I’ll try to explain by analogy.  AIR is similar to the Adobe Flash Player. The Flash Player is a plugin that you install on your computer and most mobile devices. Once you have the Flash Player you can run games/applications that are built for the Flash Player.

While the Flash Player is a plugin for the browser you can think of AIR as a plugin for the operating system. A user can install Adobe AIR – it itself is an application. Once AIR is installed you can run applications built to run inside Adobe AIR.

Why would anyone do this?

The greatest advantage that AIR offers is cross platform compatibility. The AIR runtime is built to run on Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, and Linux – sorta . Each platform/OS has it’s own specific version of AIR built to run in that particular environment. That’s a lot of work for Adobe to manage. The advantage is that a developer can create one application that can be published to each platform without any modifications.

Suppose you want a mobile application. If you go the native route then you would need to have an application built for Android which is written in Java. And then another application built for iOS which is written in Objective-C. While the languages are similar there isn’t any way to share code between projects. Everything would have to be duplicated.

Think of it as writing a book. You would probably first write it in English. Once you’re happy with it and the editing and proof reading is done then you could have someone translate it into French. Of course it would be much faster to translate than to write the original but the translated version isn’t going to say exactly the same thing either. Close, but not exact.

More about AIR

There are a few disadvantages to using Adobe AIR.  One is that an app running inside a virtual machine doesn’t run as fast as a native application. For the vast majority of cases the difference is not noticeable. The only places that you are likely to notice a difference is in graphically complex games running on a mobile device. ( When I say graphically complex I’m thinking of things like first-person-shooters. ) That being said the performance of Adobe AIR is getting better and better all the time. With the latest release of  Adobe AIR 3.0 it is possible to create a first-person-shooter for AIR that runs smoothly on a mobile device.

Previously a big disadvantage for AIR apps was that there were certain things that it couldn’t do because it didn’t have access to all of the data the underlying OS had. Like for instance the gyroscope data on a mobile phone was not exposed to an AIR app. But Adobe AIR 3.0 introduced Adobe Native Extensions ( ANE ) which bridges that gap. ANEs are native code that bridge the gap between the underlying OS and the AIR app. If for instance you wanted to write an AIR app to run on a refrigerator then you could use ANEs to deliver information like temperature and energy consumption that the OS might know but AIR doesn’t know anything about.

Features of ADOBE AIR


1.Stage 3D accelerated graphics rendering for iOS and Android

Explore a new architecture for high-performance 2D/3D GPU hardware accelerated graphics rendering by Adobe, which provides low-level Stage3D APIs for advanced rendering in apps and gives framework developers classes of interactive experiences for mobile, desktop, and televisions.

2. Enhanced high-resolution bitmap support

Develop apps that use very large bitmaps. BitmapData objects are no longer limited to a maximum resolution of 16 megapixels (16,777,215 pixels), and maximum bitmap width/height is no longer limited to 8,191 pixels.

3. Multi-threaded video decoding

Deliver live streaming and real-time interactive video with improved playback performance and increased frame rates of high bit rate content running on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.

4. Navigation improvements for HTML content (desktop only)

Enables seamless web link-style navigation within desktop apps such as magazine viewers and ebook readers. This enhancement provides developers with a better way implement intra-application navigation.

and many more….

Adobe Air has grown Big and there are a number of applications which are built using it.


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