Adobe AIR

Adobe AIR (also known as Adobe Integrated Runtime and is codenamed Apollo) is a cross-platform runtime system currently developed by Harman International for building desktop applications and mobile applications, programmed using Adobe Animate, ActionScript, and optionally Apache Flex. It was originally released in 2008. The runtime supports installable applications on Windows, macOS, and mobile operating systems, including Android, iOS and BlackBerry Tablet OS.

Adobe AIR
Developer(s)Adobe Inc. (2008-2020)
HARMAN (2019-present)
Initial releaseFebruary 25, 2008 (2008-02-25)
Stable release
33.1.1.476[1][2] / April 27, 2021 (2021-04-27)
Preview release
33.1.1.190 / July 10, 2020 (2020-07-10)
Operating systemMicrosoft Windows
macOS and iOS
Android[3]
BlackBerry Tablet OS
BlackBerry 10 (discontinued since OS 10.3.1)[4]
Linux (discontinued since v2.6)[5]
PlatformIA-32, x86-64, ARM, and MIPS
Available inChinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish[6]
TypeRuntime environment
LicenseProprietary[7]
Websitewww.adobe.com/products/air/ airsdk.harman.com

AIR is a runtime environment that allows Adobe Animate content and ActionScript 3.0 coders to construct applications and video games that run as a stand-alone executable and behave similar to a native application on supported platforms. A HTML5 application used in a browser does not require installation, while AIR applications require installation from an installer file (Windows and OS X) or the appropriate App Store (iOS and Android). AIR applications have unrestricted access to local storage and file systems, while browser-based applications only have access to individual files selected by users.[8]

AIR internally uses a shared codebase with the Flash Player rendering engine and ActionScript 3.0 as the primary programming language. Applications must specifically be built for AIR to use additional features provided, such as multi-touch, file system integration, native client extensions, integration with Taskbar or Dock, and access to accelerometer and GPS devices.[9] HTML5 applications may run on the WebKit engine included in AIR.

Notable applications built with Adobe AIR include eBay Desktop, Pandora One desktop,[10][11] TweetDeck,[12] the former Adobe Media Player,[12] Angry Birds,[13] and Machinarium,[14] among other multimedia and task management applications.[15] According to Adobe, over 100,000 unique applications have been built on AIR, and over 1 billion installations of the same were logged from users across the world, as of May 2014.[16][17] Adobe AIR was voted as the Best Mobile Application Development product at the Consumer Electronics Show for two consecutive years (CES 2014 and CES 2015).[18][19]

In June 2019, Adobe announced it would begin transitioning ongoing support and development of Adobe AIR to HARMAN. Adobe will continue to provide support for versions 32 and earlier until the end of 2020, as support will be managed by HARMAN.[20]

Features

Using AIR, developers can access functionality including text, vector graphics, raster graphics, video, audio, camera, and microphone capability. AIR also includes additional features such as file system integration, native client extensions, desktop integration and access to connected devices. AIR enables applications to work with data in different ways, including using local files, local SQLite databases (for which AIR has built-in support), a database server, or the encrypted local store included with AIR.

Developers can access additional functionality by building AIR Native Extensions, which can access full device functionality being programmed in the native language.[21]

Desktop features

On desktop platforms, AIR supports:

  • Window management – Opening multiple windows, minimizing, maximizing and resizing AIR windows.[22]
  • Menu bar – Adding a native menu bar to AIR windows, with sub menus and custom menu items.[23]
  • File management – Discovering drives, files and folders on the PC, creating and deleting files, renaming, copying and moving files.[24]
  • Console applications – Executing native applications with command-line arguments, and receiving feedback via standard I/O & error streams.[25]
  • Multithreading – Managing multiple threads, to execute ActionScript 3 code in the background without freezing the user interface.[26]
  • Web browser – View HTML web pages with full CSS and JavaScript support within applications, with the integrated WebKit-based web browser.[27]
  • Clipboard access – Programmatically copy or paste text, bitmaps or files into the system clipboard.[28]
  • Drag-and-drop – Allows users to drag text, bitmaps or files into AIR applications.[29]

Mobile features

On mobile platforms, AIR supports many mobile hardware features:

3D graphics

In 2011, the addition of Stage3D allowed AIR apps access to GPUs for hardware acceleration. Several third-party frameworks have been developed to build upon the functionality of Stage3D, including the Starling Framework and Away3D. These frameworks are also compatible with AIR, and provide vital performance improvements to AIR apps published for mobile devices.

AIR Native Extensions

AIR apps can be augmented in functionality with the usage of AIR Native Extensions (ANEs). Native extensions are plug-in code libraries that contain native code wrapped with an ActionScript API,[34] allowing developers to access native features not otherwise usable in AIR, such as Apple Game Center or Google Cloud Messaging.

Native extensions may be developed by anyone using publicly available tools;[35] some are distributed for free or even as open source, while others are sold commercially.[36]

Native extensions may be programmed in the native language on each platform, allowing access to the full set of platform APIs provided by the developer. (C++ for Windows, Java and C++ for Android, Objective-C for iOS).[21]

Availability

AIR is a cross-platform technology and AIR applications can be repackaged with few or no changes for many popular desktop and mobile platforms. Different installation options exist for each platform.

AIR applications may be published with or without the AIR runtime. Applications packaged with the AIR runtime are larger in file size, and are known as "captive runtime" applications.[37] If the runtime is not embedded in the app, it must be installed separately.

In January 2009, Adobe claimed that there were over 100 million installations of Adobe AIR worldwide, and that "the majority of AIR runtime installations occur at the time the first AIR application is installed by a user".[38] In May 2014, Adobe claimed that over 100,000 unique applications were built on AIR, and over 1 billion installations of the same were logged from users across the world.[16][17]

Platforms

Adobe AIR, version 32, contains Adobe Flash Player 32, and is available for Windows 7 and later, as well as OS X 10.9 and later.[6] Desktop Linux distributions were available until June 2011 with version 2.6, which ended Linux support.[39]

Adobe AIR applications can be published as native phone applications on certain mobile operating systems, such as Android (ARM Cortex-A8 and above[40]) and Apple iOS.[41] In May 2017, Adobe stopped releasing AIR for Android, and the app was eventually removed from the Play Store in September 2018, but it can still be downloaded through their website.[42] After Adobe's transition of AIR to Harman, they resumed support for Android and the latest version is only available there.[3]

Platform Installer file support App Store support
Windows .air, .exe and .msi[37][43] None
macOS .air and .dmg[43] App Store (with captive runtime)[44]
Android .apk[45] Google Play[45]
iOS .ipa[46] App Store[46]
Playbook .bar[47] App World[47]

The following table explains to what extent Adobe AIR can run on various mobile operating systems:

Operating System Prerequisites Latest Adobe Flash Player AIR Framework
Android Android 2.3+, ARM Cortex-A8+[48] or Android x86[49] AIR 3.6.0.597 (uses Flash Player 11.6)[50] Option 1: The AIR player can be embedded as a 'captive' runtime, which increases APK size but makes the application standalone.[51]

Option 2: The runtime is not included with the app, and must installed as a separate app from the app market.[52]

Apple iOS iOS 4.3 or later AIR 3.6.0.597 (uses Flash Player 11.6)[50] Not applicable: each app includes its own 'captive' runtime.[53]
BlackBerry Tablet OS None AIR 3.1 (uses Flash Player 11.1)[54][55] Already pre-installed on each device.[53]
BlackBerry 10 Blackberry 10.2 and lower (no longer supported from 10.3)[56] AIR 3.5 (uses Flash Player 11.1) Already pre-installed on each device.

Application development

AIR runs applications within a contained Flash Player instance. It runs web applications via WebKit rendering engine. Multiple instances of the browser can be started within a single AIR application, but JavaScript content executes with some security limitations.

AIR does not provide direct access to native GUI elements such as navigation bars or controls. Native extensions can be used to access additional native resources.

SDK

The AIR SDK is available as a free standalone download for software developers to make AIR applications.[57] SDK users do not need to install any commercial software to use the SDK, although several options are available. AIR apps can be compiled from the command line using the AIR compiler included in the SDK; the compiler can also be called from an IDE to eliminate the need for the command line.

AIR can also be used with Adobe Flex.[58] Flex is an integrated collection of stylable graphical user interface, data manipulation and networking components, and applications built upon it are known as "Flex" applications. Flex GUIs are defined in MXML, similar to how Android and Microsoft Visual Studio define GUIs; however, Flex does not give access to native GUI components.

AIR applications built without the Flex framework allow greater flexibility and performance, and are known as "pure ActionScript" applications.[59][60][61] Video games built on the AIR platform are typically pure-Actionscript projects. Various open-source component frameworks are available for pure ActionScript projects, such as MadComponents, that provide UI Components at significantly smaller SWF file sizes.[62][63]

Software

Adobe distributes three commercial software products for developing of AIR applications in ActionScript:

  • Adobe Flash Builder (enterprise application development & debugging)
  • Adobe Animate (graphics design, animation & scripting toolset)
  • Adobe Scout (visual profiler for performance optimization)

Third-party development environments that target the AIR runtime are also available, including:

  • Moonshine IDE Moonshine is a free IDE built with Apache Flex® and Adobe Air. You can create ActionScript 3, Apache Flex®, Apache Royale® and Feathers projects from Moonshine. It also provides cloud support.
  • FlashDevelop, an open-source Flash ActionScript IDE, which includes a debugger for AIR applications
  • Powerflasher FDT, a commercial ActionScript IDE
  • CodeDrive, an extension to Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 for ActionScript 3 development and debugging
  • IntelliJ IDEA, a commercial IDE supporting ActionScript 3 development and debugging
  • AS3 & MXML for VSCode, a powerful extension capable to turn the popular Microsoft free editor Visual Studio Code in a complete AIR IDE

Adobe Flash Builder is the premium tool for Flex application development, since it includes an integrated drag-and-drop user interface builder, not found in competing tools like FlashDevelop.[64]

JavaScript applications

Adobe provides for AIR, HTML5 and JavaScript development with Adobe Dreamweaver CS5, although any other HTML editor or text editor can be used.[65]

AIR can run a subset of JavaScript, with no ability to dynamically execute code when running in the application sandbox. According to Adobe, this restriction is designed to prevent malicious remote content from attacking a user's system.[66] Because of this restriction, JavaScript frameworks that make use of dynamic JavaScript functions like eval() were not initially compatible with AIR. However, several frameworks including Dojo Toolkit, jQuery, and ExtJS were updated to run in AIR's application sandbox. Some frameworks like MooTools were already compatible.

Dreamweaver CS4/CS3 requires an additional extension to compile AIR applications,[67] as does Flash CS3 in the form of an update.[68]

References

  1. "Adobe Parnership". Harman. Harman International. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  2. "Download Adobe 33.1". Harman. Harman International. Retrieved January 17, 2021.
  3. "Harman - Adobe Partnership - HARMAN". services.harman.com. Retrieved April 10, 2020. AIR 33 is now released on a commercial basis, and supports 64-bit Android devices and the latest Play Store requirements.
  4. "End of Support Notice". BlackBerry Ltd. April 15, 2014. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
  5. "Adobe AIR and Linux: Increasing Distribution on Devices". Adobe Blog website. Adobe Inc. Retrieved June 14, 2011. We will no longer be releasing our own versions of Adobe AIR and the AIR SDK for desktop Linux, but expect that one or more of our partners will do so. The last Adobe release of AIR for desktop Linux is AIR 2.6. By focusing on the porting kit and support of partner implementations, we expect to provide broader support for AIR across Linux-based PCs and devices, whereas our own desktop Linux releases have accounted for less than 0.5% of lifetime AIR downloads.
  6. "Tech specs and system requirements | Adobe AIR". Adobe Systems. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  7. "Adobe AIR 1.1 EULA" (PDF). Adobe Systems. February 4, 2008. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
  8. "Adobe AIR: Browser vs. Desktop". Adobe Systems. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
  9. Adobe AIR 3, Adobe
  10. "Upgrade Pandora Subscription to Plus or Premium". www.pandora.com.
  11. Top 10 Apps Worth Installing Adobe AIR For, LifeHacker
  12. 10 impressive Adobe AIR apps, CNET
  13. Flash Games Showcased at Adobe MAX- Rovio’s Angry Birds & Epic Games, Adobe Digital Media Blog
  14. Adobe AIR showcase apps for mobile developers, Adobe Developer Connection
  15. 60+ Useful Adobe AIR Applications You Should Know, HongKiat.com
  16. AIR app installs cross a billion, Adobe AIR and Adobe Flash Player Team Blog
  17. 1 Billion AIR Installations, Ben Forta
  18. Compass Intelligence Announces Winners of the 2014 Mobility Awards, Compass Intelligence
  19. Compass Intelligence Announces Winners of the 2015 Mobility Awards, Compass Intelligence
  20. "The Future of Adobe AIR". Adobe Blog. May 30, 2019. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  21. Using native extensions for Adobe AIR, Adobe Help Center
  22. Basics of native windows in AIR, Adobe Help Center
  23. Creating native menus (AIR), Adobe Help Center
  24. Working with files, Adobe Help Center
  25. Communicating with native processes in AIR, Adobe Help Center
  26. Using workers for concurrency, Adobe Help Center
  27. Creating your first HTML-based AIR application with the AIR SDK, Adobe Help Center
  28. Copy and paste, Adobe Help Center
  29. Drag and drop in AIR, Adobe Help Center
  30. Touch, multitouch and gesture input, ActionScript 3.0 Developer's Guide, Adobe
  31. Accelerometer input, ActionScript 3.0 Developer’s Guide, Adobe
  32. Using the Adobe AIR Geolocation APIs on Android, Adobe Developer Connection
  33. "Adobe Flash Runtimes | Documentation archives and downloads". helpx.adobe.com.
  34. Native extensions for Adobe AIR, AIR Devnet
  35. help.adobe.com/en_US/air/extensions/air_extensions.pdf
  36. "Adobe Flash Runtimes | Documentation archives and downloads". helpx.adobe.com.
  37. Generating a Windows installer for your AIR captive runtime application, Adobe Developer Connection
  38. Ludwig, Adrian (January 28, 2009). "AIR passes 100 million installations". Adobe AIR Team Blog. Adobe Systems. Archived from the original on November 22, 2018. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
  39. "How to install Adobe AIR 2 for 64-bit Linux systems". helpx.adobe.com.
  40. "Flash Player 10.1 – Installations and updates". Archived from the original on October 8, 2010. Retrieved November 19, 2010.
  41. iOS features in Adobe AIR 2.6, Adobe Devnet
  42. "Re: Adobe air not found on google play for some android users". Adobe. September 17, 2018. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  43. Packaging a desktop native installer, Adobe Help Center
  44. "Post an Adobe AIR app to Mac App Store". helpx.adobe.com.
  45. Using Flash Builder 4.5 to package applications for Google Android devices, Adobe Developer Connection
  46. Using Flash Builder 4.5 to package applications for Apple iOS devices, Adobe Developer Connection
  47. Using Flash Builder 4.5 to package applications for BlackBerry Tablet OS devices, Adobe Developer Connection
  48. "Adobe AIR – Tech specs – Adobe AIR – System requirements". Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  49. "Adobe AIR now supports x86 Android". Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  50. "Release Notes – Flash Player® 11.6 AIR® 3.6". Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  51. "java – Install Air Application in Android without Adobe Air – Stack Overflow". Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  52. "Android – must install adobe air?". Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  53. "How are Adobe AIR applications packaged and dep... – Adobe Community". Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  54. Announcing Flash Player 11 and AIR 3 Archived May 4, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, Adobe Flash Platform Blog
  55. https://www.adobe.com/flashplatform/certified_devices/tablets.html Retrieved on September 19, 2011.
  56. BlackBerry. "End of Support – BlackBerry SDK for Adobe AIR – BlackBerry Developer". Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  57. Adobe AIR SDK Download Page, Adobe.com
  58. Adobe Flex SDK Download Page, Adobe.com
  59. Optimizing performance of applications for connected TVs, Adobe Developer Connection
  60. Top 10 Performance Killers in your AIR Application, FlexWiz
  61. Flex versus ActionScript – the debate gets new life Archived December 9, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, Greg's Ramblings
  62. Pure ActionScript + MadComponents vs. Flash Builder 4.5, MobileAppDev
  63. Flex 4.5 vs Pure AS3 Archived October 21, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, Michael Crosby
  64. Creating an application user interface, Adobe Developer Connection
  65. "Getting started with Adobe AIR for HTML/JavaScript developers". Adobe Systems. August 24, 2010. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
  66. "ADOBE® AIR™ 1.5 Security White Paper" (PDF). Adobe Systems. 2008. p. 6. Retrieved March 24, 2011.
  67. "Adobe - AIR: Tools for Ajax". Adobe Systems. Archived from the original on April 14, 2011. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
  68. "Adobe Flash - Downloads". Adobe Systems. November 17, 2008. Archived from the original on March 3, 2011. Retrieved March 15, 2011. Adobe AIR 1.5 Update for Flash CS4 Professional
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