|By Tim Negris||
|March 10, 2008 10:30 AM EDT||
Adobe’s release last week of its AIR 1.0 (Adobe Integrated Runtime) cross-platform platform got plenty of ink. Much of it missed the point.
And that’s understandable, given that we are tumbling into the next generation of everything all at once right now – SaaS and SOA, Web 2.0, Blu-ray, cellular streaming, and on and on – like a tornado crossing a junkyard. It’s one of those times when it’s hard to keep things straight.
So Adobe’s AIR announcement roiled the swamp and raised the themes of rich Internet applications, offline Internet applications, and cross-platform runtimes in a wormy bundle. In the process it was lumped together, variously, with Google Gears, Mozilla Prism, Sun JavaFX and Microsoft Silverlight in the Air coverage.
Sure, AIR has something to do with each of them, but it is more important than any of them. It may be a primary salvo in a user experience revolution on the scale of the fabled Sacking of Xerox PARC by Apple and Microsoft during the First PC Epoch.
That was the conquest that brought us the spoils of the graphical user interface, pointing devices and the desktop “metaphor.” It also, sadly, solidified the tedious Sunni-Shiite squabble between Windows users and Mac people that persists to this day. But what goes around comes around and Adobe may now be about to sack Apple and Microsoft.
Kevin Lynch, the guy responsible for AIR, certainly thinks so. On the eve of AIR’s release, he reflected that it “represents the beginning of a new medium as the best of the web and the best of the desktop come together.” Whoa, dude, beginning of a new medium? You are blowing my mind.
Okay, so how does AIR rate as a platform for rich Web 2.0 applications against the gang of four to which it has been compared? A chart might help.
RIA Off-Line Desktop Runtime
Gears No Yes No Browsers
Prism No No Yes Mozilla
JavaFX Yes No Yes Java
Silverlight Yes No No Browsers
AIR Yes Yes Yes Self
Neither Gears nor Prism profess any particular RIA aspirations. In both cases, if the application is rich, it’s rich. Gears lets applications cache data and page content locally on the user’s machine to be used when the machine isn’t connected to the web. Prism, which is still under development, does something quite different; it enables the user to move browser-based online applications out of the browser and onto the desktop.
JavaFX, the newest member of the prolific Java technology family, salutes the RIA flag by enabling easier scripting of dynamic user interface elements in webbased applications. It interoperates with things like NetBeans and, of course, the Java runtime, so, as with other kinds of Java applications, the RIA could be browser- based, but needn’t be.
When Microsoft talks about Silverlight it’s all about RIAs and it parrots what Adobe says about AIR, the user experience, monetization and branding. It’s the natural thing to say about RIAs, but Silverlight’s cross-platform/cross-device functionality comes by way of the browser and it still has no offline capabilities.
So, if a developer wants to build a rich Internet-enabled desktop application that runs the same way across platforms and devices, does useful work offline, doesn’t use a browser, and directly enables interactive content, it seems that AIR is the only option.
To speak of RIAs is to speak of the “user experience,” which could mean what a user does and how he or she feels in the process of finding and using information and content, communicating with other users, consuming media items and products, dealing with connectivity, and interacting with transactional software applications.
An RIA delivered in a browser forces the user into a disjointed overall experience comprising multiple different user experiences in the application, the browser and the operating system the browser’s is running on.
If you’ve ever tried to use Internet Explorer on a smartphone to do anything useful, you know how painful that user experience can be. Granted some browsers are better than others and it’s hard not be impressed by iPhone commercials. But users of applications for sales force automation and e-commerce or social networking and streaming media don’t benefit from the browser “experience”; they suffer from it.
Applications and content providers don’t benefit from it either, net-net. The cross-platform benefit is outweighed by the price of limited local intelligence and persistence, diluted user intimacy and brand impact, and always being a tab away from a competitor and a click away from nowhere.
A persistent standalone “devicetop” application that connects to the Internet and communicates with back-end Web Services there, caches data for offline use and, to the extent the OS will allow, has a look-andfeel specific to the application and its intended user, runs on any device or system and provides a user experience that’s more immediate, intuitive and intimate can’t be browser-based.
Instead of thinking about of applications for salespeople and teenagers, think instead about the user experience of an emergency medical technician thumbing critical medical information into his Blackberry.
“Stay with us, sir. Hang on!”
“Lessee, Applications… Browser… Bookmarks…”
“He’s flatlining! Get the paddles!”
“Ah! Wrong Bookmark! Bookmarks… Got it… Page loading… Scroll down…Scroll down… There, Enter Patient Data…”
“Sir? Can you hear me? Sir?”
“Damn, damn, damn!”
Clearly the browser isn’t the best deployment vehicle for an emergency response application or most others.
The Java language(s) and runtime, and adjuncts like
The open source movement has ameliorated this barrier considerably by providing frameworks for some things, but Java is not a user-experience platform.
At the device level, of course, there’s a user interface, and this interface influences the user experience of applications and services on the device. On a commodity cell phone, the UI comprises hard or soft buttons and keys and a small screen showing text and possibly graphics. On a premium smartphone or PC the UI is Windows, Mac OS or some stripe of Linux.
The device-level user experience is the main reason people buy one device, one phone, one PC over another. Apple’s Mac, iPod, and iPhone devices and Mac OS, Quicktime and iTunes software have set a stratospheric bar for the device-level user experience.
Microsoft, God bless it, keeps trying, but every one of its approaches – and there have been many – has lacked coherence, clarity and comprehensiveness.
Anybody who has, even recently on Vista or Windows Mobile, tried to buy, use or make music or other media the Windows Media way knows painfully well how far behind the Microsoft user experience really is.
Sadly for it, Microsoft doesn’t get nearly enough credit for the heavy lifting it’s done
in media codecs and other goodies out of Microsoft Research. These things add substantially to the quality of certain user experiences, but users won’t see how good the screen looks when the buttons don’t make sense.
For both Apple and Microsoft, enabling, controlling and monetizing the user experiences related to media is a strategic mission.
The things affecting their success include how easy it is for developers to build rich media applications, how easy it is for users to find, manage, use and interact with media elements and applications, and how easy it is for publishers, advertisers and distributors to federate, interoperate and transact business.
Now, consider Adobe. It’s hardly a stretch to say that Adobe has been in the user experience business all its life. Fonts, documents, graphic design, images and video are critical to a high-quality computer user experience and Adobe products have historically set the gold standard for tools used to create all kinds of media. Both Apple and Microsoft compete in various ways with Adobe in this arena, but neither covers all the categories nor provides comparable cross-category collaboration facilities. Commercial content creators know, trust and love Adobe.
They use Macs and PCs.
Then there’s Flash.
Most folks recognize the name from the ubiquitous in-browser media player used on sites like YouTube for video. Some know it’s the technology underneath sexy graphical movie splash screens on all kinds of web sites, but most people use Flash media without realizing it.
Underlying the Flash Player is a runtime engine capable of processing all manner of user interaction through programs written in ActionScript and other languages. Flash web sites are the result. A site is a movie made up of interactive actors that take the form of buttons and other controls. A user doesn’t visit a Flash site he plays it. Flash blurs the line between media and function.
It enables instrumented media, a necessary element of both self-monetizing content and high-quality cross-device experiences.
Flash .SWF movie/site files are also fairly easy to use offline. If a particular user interaction with a movie element requires connectivity or local storage, it can be programmed to handle that far more easily than it would be in Java, HTML or the .NET languages. Neither Apple nor Microsoft has anything like Flash.
Less flashy than Flash, but equally important is Flex, a free set of software frameworks for building cross-platform, web-connected desktop applications that are really interactive Flash movies.
Adobe AIR is important because it completes the Adobe user experience ecosystem by providing a platform-independent platform on which to stage interactive content and programmatic functionality for rich Internet apps. Nobody else has anything like that.
It’s probably no coincidence that both Microsoft and Apple have recently made comments that are relevant here. Perhaps actually aimed at Google Gears, but timed to the AIR announcement, Microsoft sniffed that it would probably offline Silverlight sometime soon. More focused was Steve Jobs hissing about the Flash player’s performance on the iPhone – at the Apple shareholder meeting, no less.
They seem to be taking notice of Adobe’s onward push towards a massive context shift where device choice doesn’t matter.
I actually used the AIR beta to build a monetized rich Internet application and as it came together with surprising speed and as I deployed it on a number of different systems with surprising ease, an application with MY look, feel and function beholden to no browser or OS, I had a feeling that I had felt before. It was the feeling I had the first time I used a programming terminal instead of a punch card machine, a hard disk instead of floppies, a mouse instead of arrow keys, WYSIWYG editing instead of dot commands, an IDE instead of a text editor, a GUI instead of DOS.
It’s the feeling I get from the sight and sound of giants leaping.
|jmarinacci 09/17/08 12:46:54 AM EDT|
Hi. This is Josh from the JavaFX team at Sun. Here on the JavaFX team we share the vision of applications that are both on the web and on the desktop, and where the user experience is priority number one. I'd like to correct a few things you got wrong about JavaFX.
JavaFX definitely works in offline mode. JavaFX applications can be deployed in the webbrowser, similar to Flash, or on the desktop, similar to Air. You will get an icon on the desktop with an auto-updating app, just like Air. In addition we now support draggable applets, meaning you can literally drag a running application out of the webbrowser and on to your desktop. The app will still run even if you then close the browser.
JavaFX also has great network support because it is built on the JVM and Java Runtime which have a rich and mature set of networking APIs. Most RIA solutions let you talk to JSON and XML webservices but that is where they stop. Java can talk to those (as well as many other kinds of webservices) but you can also open direct HTTP connections, raw sockets, UDP connections, or pretty much any other kind of network connection you can imagine.
The same is true for desktop access. If your application is signed and the user gives it permission then your app can access files on the desktop, open up the webbrowser, make local network connections, and even use native code to access hardware (OpenGL, joysticks, serial ports, etc.)
Because JavaFX is built on top of the mature industrial strength JVM you have access not only to the rich APIs of the Java Runtime but also the huge ecosystem of existing Java libraries out there.
JavaFX is becoming a great RIA platform, for both the browser and the desktop.
|Words, punctuated 03/11/08 12:30:07 PM EDT|
Trackback Added: AIR in the recent RIA dev platform landscape; Since I’ve been working on Adobe AIR, I naturally have lots of thoughts about what it is and isn’t, and how it compares to some of the many similar and related technologies that have been announced and released over the past year or so.
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
Jan. 20, 2017 12:00 AM EST Reads: 6,324
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
Jan. 19, 2017 09:45 PM EST Reads: 6,815
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Jan. 19, 2017 09:45 PM EST Reads: 7,695
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, discussed the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to focus o...
Jan. 19, 2017 07:30 PM EST Reads: 4,237
Providing secure, mobile access to sensitive data sets is a critical element in realizing the full potential of cloud computing. However, large data caches remain inaccessible to edge devices for reasons of security, size, format or limited viewing capabilities. Medical imaging, computer aided design and seismic interpretation are just a few examples of industries facing this challenge. Rather than fighting for incremental gains by pulling these datasets to edge devices, we need to embrace the i...
Jan. 19, 2017 05:30 PM EST Reads: 3,640
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
Jan. 19, 2017 05:15 PM EST Reads: 3,113
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
Jan. 19, 2017 04:45 PM EST Reads: 3,769
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
Jan. 19, 2017 04:00 PM EST Reads: 5,439
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint, a leading digital experience intelligence company, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint Systems is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into your customer-critical services to help you consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed for digital business, C...
Jan. 19, 2017 03:45 PM EST Reads: 1,805
@ThingsExpo has been named the ‘Top WebRTC Influencer' by iTrend. iTrend processes millions of conversations, tweets, interactions, news articles, press releases, blog posts - and extract meaning form them and analyzes mobile and desktop software platforms used to communicate, various metadata (such as geo location), and automation tools. In overall placement, @ThingsExpo ranked as the number one ‘WebRTC Influencer' followed by @DevOpsSummit at 55th.
Jan. 19, 2017 02:00 PM EST Reads: 4,795
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...
Jan. 19, 2017 01:15 PM EST Reads: 5,688
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
Jan. 19, 2017 01:15 PM EST Reads: 5,178
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Jan. 19, 2017 12:15 PM EST Reads: 4,316
SYS-CON Events announced today that Linux Academy, the foremost online Linux and cloud training platform and community, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Linux Academy was founded on the belief that providing high-quality, in-depth training should be available at an affordable price. Industry leaders in quality training, provided services, and student certification passes, its goal is to c...
Jan. 19, 2017 12:15 PM EST Reads: 2,034
In the next five to ten years, millions, if not billions of things will become smarter. This smartness goes beyond connected things in our homes like the fridge, thermostat and fancy lighting, and into heavily regulated industries including aerospace, pharmaceutical/medical devices and energy. “Smartness” will embed itself within individual products that are part of our daily lives. We will engage with smart products - learning from them, informing them, and communicating with them. Smart produc...
Jan. 19, 2017 11:45 AM EST Reads: 1,729
"What is the next step in the evolution of IoT systems? The answer is data, information, which is a radical shift from assets, from things to input for decision making," stated Michael Minkevich, VP of Technology Services at Luxoft, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Jan. 19, 2017 10:00 AM EST Reads: 5,582
The emerging Internet of Everything creates tremendous new opportunities for customer engagement and business model innovation. However, enterprises must overcome a number of critical challenges to bring these new solutions to market. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Martin, CTO/CIO at nfrastructure, outlined these key challenges and recommended approaches for overcoming them to achieve speed and agility in the design, development and implementation of Internet of Everything solutions with...
Jan. 19, 2017 10:00 AM EST Reads: 5,596
WebRTC sits at the intersection between VoIP and the Web. As such, it poses some interesting challenges for those developing services on top of it, but also for those who need to test and monitor these services. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Tsahi Levent-Levi, co-founder of testRTC, reviewed the various challenges posed by WebRTC when it comes to testing and monitoring and on ways to overcome them.
Jan. 19, 2017 09:30 AM EST Reads: 6,052
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Jan. 19, 2017 07:30 AM EST Reads: 3,671
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, discussed the best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
Jan. 19, 2017 07:00 AM EST Reads: 2,041