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Presentation: Rich Internet Applications with Flex and AIR

In this presentation recorded during QCon London 2008, Christophe Coenraets presents Flex and AIR, two technologies from Adobe used to create, deploy and run Rich Internet Applications. After a brief introduction to each technology, Coenraets showed some applications built with them.

Watch: Rich Internet Applications with Flex and AIR (1h 5 min.)

AIR stands for Adobe Integrated Runtime, which is simply another runtime used to run Flash, HTML and JavaScript applications on the desktop. AIR is a cross platform runtime for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux.

Flash applications don’t necessarily need a browser to run, but they can run on AIR directly on the desktop. The idea is to provide a better integration with the desktop, avoiding the limitations introduced by browsers, and ensuring an offline experience when necessary. AIR also offers access to the underlying operating system API and other features:

  • Embedded RDBMS (SQLite) – to be able to run applications dependant on a database
  • Embedded HTML engine (WebKit) – the Safari rendering engine – to run HTML code
  • File I/O API – to access the underlying file system
  • Native OS drag-and-drop
  • System notifications – informing the user of a certain event
  • Application updates – local applications need to be updated manually or automatically.

The development environment for AIR applications is Flex. Flex supports two programming languages: ActionScript, an ECMAScript language fully compliant with version 4, and MXML, which is an XML-based user interface markup language. The code written in one of those two languages is compiled into bytecode executed by Flash’s runtime or AIR.


A large part of the session consists of presentations of a number of applications intended to demonstrate the capabilities of Adobe’s technologies.


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