Previewing Adobe AIR 2 at Adobe MAX

At Adobe MAX in Los Angeles today, we previewed the next major release of Adobe AIR to thousands of Adobe customers and partners. Several exciting new capabilities of the AIR runtime were demonstrated by Adobe’s CTO, Kevin Lynch, as part of the "day one" keynote. In addition, Christian Cantrell, a member of the AIR engineering team, presented a session titled “What’s Coming in AIR 2″ that provided a more detailed sneak peak of some of the upcoming features of the AIR runtime (stay tuned — we will soon be posting a recording of Christian’s talk).

After shipping AIR 1.0, many of developers challenged us to open the runtime up even more by, for example, allowing communication with native processes and providing enhanced networking support. With AIR 2, our goal from the outset was to remove limitations in the runtime that prevented developers from building their applications.

Some of the capabilities that are coming in AIR 2 include:

  • Native process API
    Beginning with AIR 2, developers will have access to a native process API that will enable applications to invoke and communicate with native applications on the local machine. In order to preserve the cross platform nature of the .air file format, applications that take advantage of the native process API must be deployed as native installers such as .exe and .dmg. The AIR runtime SDK will include support for generating basic native installers.  
  • Support for detecting mass storage devices
    Now your AIR application can detect when a mass storage device is connected or disconnected. An AIR 2 application can listen for when a user plugs in a Flip video camera or USB Flash drive so that it can, for example, automatically synchronize files to the local system or prompt the user to upload photos to Facebook or videos to YouTube.
  • Improved support for accessibility
    Runtime dialogs such as the installer dialogs will be readable by supported screen readers such as JAWS. In addition, it will be possible to build accessible Flash-based applications in AIR leveraging the existing accessibility API’s and features available in the Flash Player and Flex SDK.
  • Open document API
    Support for opening a document will be possible from an AIR application. With this API, AIR asks the operating system what the default application is associated with the file. For example, specifying a file path to a PDF file will launch Adobe Reader or a .doc file will open Microsoft Word.
  • Improved performance
    Applications that run using AIR 2 will consume less memory and use less CPU than AIR 1.5 without recompiling the application. We will share more information about this when we launch the beta.
  • Local microphone access API
    Currently, audio must first pass through a server before it can be saved locally. Using the upcoming AIR 2 local microphone API, it will be possible to record audio locally, which can be important if your application is running in a disconnected mode.
  • Multi-touch & gesture support
    AIR 2 will include support for multi-touch (Windows 7) and gestures (Windows 7 and Mac OS X 10.6).  
  • Faster, more powerful WebKit
    An updated version of WebKit that includes a faster JavaScript engine and new HTML5/CSS3 capabilities will be included inside of AIR 2.
  • Improved socket support
    It will now be possible to create local servers and lightweight P2P applications with enhancements to AIR’s socket support.

In the coming weeks leading up to the beta, we will begin sharing more information including videos, articles and blog posts about some of these new capabilities. We are extremely eager to get the public beta into your hands so that we can begin incorporating your feedback.

We expect to ship a beta version of Adobe AIR 2 on Adobe Labs by the end of the year. In the first half of 2010, we expect to ship the final version of AIR 2.

70 Responses to Previewing Adobe AIR 2 at Adobe MAX

  1. rad_g says:

    How many points of touch AIR multi touch is going to support? Yesterdays presentation struggled a bit with 2 fingers.

  2. timb says:

    Yesterday’s struggle, if anything, seemed to have more to do with the device than the software – it may have been badly calibrated or the operator wasn’t matching the gesture (and gestures suck for multi-touch anyway, better to have actual positional control).

    And personally I expect it to support as many points as there are, since it’s how most of these devices work — they’re not limited to any number by technical means, it’s just blob detection and once it’s done, 2 points is the same as 10.

  3. ilsh says:

    Glad to hear these news! Good job, Adobe!

    Just wish there will be more PDF functionality in AIR 2.

  4. Michael says:

    Does this mean that we will be able to take screen shots within Air 2?

  5. Deepak Nadar says:

    When would the beta be available? Lots of new stuff here…

  6. Tanmay Dalvi says:

    There are some common capabilities, such as finding machine name, or IP address, that we find lacking in AIR runtime right now. Can you disclose whether any of these would be present in version 2?

    Also, does the improved socket support mean we will be able to write Server sockets in AIR?

  7. Another question. If an Air application is packaged as a native application, will this include the Air Run-Time too or has the Run-Time to be installed in advance on the machine? In the first case the applications might become quite large …

  8. @rad_g: I have seen internal examples of up to ten points. We will receive as many touch points as the operating system detects for that multi-touch device (screen, gesturepad, etc.).

    @ilsh: What kind of PDF functionality are you looking for?

    @Michael: With regard to whether you can take screenshots, it will be possible, but you will need to bundle a command with your application in order to do this. This would also mean of course you would need to deploy your application using a native installer since it’s dependent on native code.

    @Deepak: We are planning to get the beta out before the end of the year.

    @Tanmay: Some additional capabilities will be coming. Stay tuned for our beta. Check out Christian Cantrell’s MAX talk for a few more details: http://tv.adobe.com/watch/max-2009-develop/whats-coming-in-adobe-air-2-

    @Helge: Native installers will behave similar to our existing badge installation. When the native installer is run, it will check to see if the AIR runtime is installed. If it is not, the runtime will be downloaded from the Adobe servers and the user will be prompted to install both. If the runtime is already installed, only the application would then be installed.

  9. Matthew Zimmer says:

    Awesome news! Definitely in my top 3 favorite things I’ve learned from MAX 2009.

    @Helge,

    Great question. My initial theory is that the Adobe Inegrated Runtime (AIR) will take on a similar role that the Common Language Runtime (CLR) has in .NET. In .NET, the CLR’s primary role is to convert the compiled bytecode (CIL) into code that is native to the operating system via its just-in-time compiler. It will be interesting to learn more about it in the coming weeks ahead.

    @Rob,

    Will AIR 2 provide us with better printing capabilities compared to its current offerings?

  10. @Rob & Metthew,
    this enlights a little bit, how the iPhone based Air Applications might work. So, i assume CS5 will package a air file into a native iPhone application and present this as a normal iPhone app. But than it still relys on a virtual machine, that runs within the Runtime (AIR) on the iPhone. Do you expect therefore some issues with Apple, since virtual machines not allowed on a iPhone?

  11. d9tech says:

    Whoo hoo! I’ve been requesting the ability to save audio to the local computer without going through a server since Flash MX 2004! Thank you for finally making this possible!

    Another sore disappointment with Air 1.5 was the inability to launch other native apps on the computer. I’m totally excited to see this addition as well.

    Opening docs with registered handlers! Excellent.

    Multi-touch and gestures… I couldn’t be more excited about this one as well!

    And perf improvements are always welcome.

    Thanks guys! Adobe Air is the industry’s best hope for a write-once-run-anywhere-full-featured dev platform.

    d9tech

  12. @Matthew – Glad to hear you’re excited about AIR 2. In terms of printing improvements, we are fixing a few bugs. We will be adding vector printing support for the Mac — a feature that we really wanted in AIR 1.

    @Helge – Check out this article on the Adobe Developer Connection website to learn more about how it will be possible to build applications for the iPhone using Flash Professional CS5: http://www.adobe.com/devnet/logged_in/abansod_iphone.html?devcon=f2

    @d9tech – Stay tuned! We’ll have a Labs release soon. Looking forward to hearing what you think. Your feedback is critical.

    Rob Christensen
    Product Manager, Adobe AIR

  13. Mark says:

    I hope Adobe AIR 2.0 will run on mobile platforms (atleast android to begin with). Right now developing a large business application for desktop in Adobe AIR means that we have to re-write it entirely in Java or C for it to work on any mobile platform.

    And please tell me that “Improved socket support” will finally include support for SSL? No serious financial or banking application can developed without this crucial element.

  14. David Arno says:

    Will the new APIs support some method of finding out the current user (including any domain they belong to)?

    Also is there any chance of the API documentation appearing at the same time, or even better, prior, to the beta release?

  15. @Mark: We are exploring a number of mobile platforms though we do not have anything to announce at this time.

    @David: We will not have API’s for that but it would seem possible to create a native process to help obtain this information.

    For our Labs release, we plan to share an updated version of the ActionScript Language Reference guide. In addition, we will have examples.

  16. Will there be support for HTML text input field undo/redo (via ctl-z type shortcuts)? How about pdf generation capabilities? Viewing pdf’s without Acrobat viewer? Thanks, keep up the good work.

  17. @Jack: We are not planning to add support for PDF generation capabilities in the runtime. Viewing PDF’s will continue to require Adobe Reader. I need to double-check on the undo/redo question.

  18. That’s great news about capturing audio locally. Will the same be true for capturing video?

  19. @mike – No, this feature is available for recording audio locally. We are considering local video recording for a future release.

  20. Dan says:

    @Rob

    So I take it better support for multi page printing via html/ajax will not be implemented in this new version?

  21. Jamil says:

    This is great news. I’m particularly excited about the native process API and improved memory usage. These have been barriers for my app development. Looking forward to the beta.

  22. David Arno says:

    @Rob Christensen, thanks very much for the feedback (even if the answers were effectively “no” ;)

  23. Alex says:

    Exciting news – but very curious about the ‘native installers’ and native processes bit. We are investigating making casual downloadable games with AIR, however none of the major portals (bigfish etc) will accept AIR .air files since they can’t be wrapped with their required DRM. AIR seems to be Adobe’s only official answer to making desktop content via AS3- as 3rd party swf2exe solutions have dubious compatibility with the Adobe Runtime License-

    in short, will Air 2.0 be able to generate windows .exes (so that they may be distributed by major game portals?)

  24. Gopal Chavan says:

    Hi Rob,
    As for Native process API :
    you said “the native process API must be deployed as native installers such as .exe and .dmg”.
    Well, I don’t see “.tar”.
    Will this feature be supported for AIR applications deploying on Linux OS.

  25. antonio says:

    These are all great news! But I’m beginning to develop a new application that strong require printing of complex documents.

    So my question is:
    there will be something like window.print()? Or maybe some PDF creation support?

    Thanks in advance

  26. Rami Shawwa says:

    So will we finally be able to develop a fully functioning web-browser using the html component? please tell me we wont need to keep adding EventListeners To Links to bypass your security imposed limitations!!!!!!! I hate having to play with the dom tags for something that should work on its own! I’m building my own framework because of this. Id like to know if its no longer necessary for me to reinvent the wheel….

  27. Ian says:

    Any chance of releasing Adobe AIR 1.5.3 with an updated WebKit engine? Love Adobe AIR, but hate that much of it seems slanted towards Flex developers as opposed to HTML/CSS/JS guys.

  28. @Alex – AIR 2 will not include support for generate standalone .exe files.

    @Gopal – Our goal is to support .rpm and .deb packages for Linux.

    @antonio – We are not planning on enhancing this support in AIR 2. That said, if it is important to you, please send an email to our team a the following URL with details for how you would like to see it work: http://www.adobe.com/go/wish/

    @Ian – AIR 2 will have a much newer, faster version of WebKit.

  29. Igor says:

    Hope to see some more printing functionality, like you have in .net (only better ;-) )

    Printing documents silently should be a great functionality. Then AIR can print documents for kiosk use without writing a .net service that is doing the silent printing.

    Looking forward to AIR 2.0!

  30. Ben Hoe says:

    It would be great for AIR to be able to trigger the credentials box (windows SSO authentication), so that the AIR app could access files over the network provided that the user has the rights.

    I was originally thinking invokeEvents so the AIR app could respond accordingly and not just give a IOError. I know this proabbly opens up security holes, so just the ability for AIR to request the windows box would open a session, without enabling corrupt developers to go round stealing passwords.

  31. Aaron says:

    Is there a way I can create an AIR application that will run on 1 screen and launch a video to play on a second screen? Either on a PC, MAC or Linux box? I’ve looked all over for this and can’t seem to find it. Please email me if anyone knows – ashapiro75@gmail.com
    Thanks

  32. Gaurav Chandra says:

    I sincerely hope that Adobe does not in anyways ignore the Javascript developers in terms of tutorials and extensive help when AIR 2.0 comes out. I am a bit angry with the team as everyone is talking about Flex+AIR or Flash+AIR for 99% of the time and ignore AJAX developers. Hope that AIR 2.0 will not show a bias towards AJAX developers in terms of memory leaks mainly attributed to AIR+AJAX apps.

  33. @Gaurav – We are making improvements for JavaScript developers as well. AIR 2 includes an updated version of WebKit with a significantly faster JavaScript engine. In addition, API’s in the AIR runtime are accessible to both ActionScript and JavaScript developers. If there are specific examples you would like to see, let us know. We’re listening!

  34. Ray says:

    Support for local socket/server looks great. Can we have fast CGI support as well? I think this would make AIR even more extensible

  35. Giorgio says:

    Wonderful!
    I think that more integration with PDF would be greatly appreciated. I mean, for instance, the ability to navigate a PDF via Actionscript without the need to enter javascript into PDF itself or to do any similar oddity

  36. Jake says:

    Will the all the new features be supported for pure javascript developers?

    I am really excited about some of the new features but I am a little nervous pure HTML/AJAX developers are not getting everything since nearly all discussions/videos/tutorials are written for flex.

    Thanks in advance.

  37. @Jake – Nearly all of the new features are coming to JavaScript developers as well. One exception is for accessibility. Our goal with AIR 2 is to enable Flash-based AIR applications to work with screen readers. Over time, we hope to extend this support to WebKit as well. In general, there is feature parity between what’s possible with JavaScript and ActionScript in AIR 2.

  38. I write medical learning applications and would really like to be able to talk in a bidirectional way to USB devices. I can see with the support for local sockets i can do this using java as a bridge, but will it be possible directly?

  39. @kenneth – We are not providing API’s built into the runtime to communicate with USB devices. However, with some additional work, you could try to take advantage of AIR 2’s new native process API to invoke Java or libusb. I have not tried myself, but it may be worth looking into.

  40. James Cook says:

    It would be great if you guys could document the features that have been disabled in the version of WebKit shipping with AIR. I spend a good deal of time figuring out which CSS styles I can and can’t use effectively. Saying that it is based on Safari 4.0.3 does little to help. It is probably more proper to say that it is based on version 531.9 of WebKit. (At least the version of AIR 2 SDK Beta I downloaded today reports that version number.)

    I have been trying to get the HTML5 storage APIs working until I realized that the AIR browser does not support the HTML5 SQL Storage API or the HTML5 Local Storage API. This is disappointing since both these APIs are supported by Safari 4.0.3 (and iPhone 2.0)!

  41. Scott Chapman says:

    Will Full Text Search and R-Tree indexing be enabled in SQLite?
    It would be easy to turn on and enable another area of AIR applications that are not doable now. PLEASE include these two items!

  42. Sohbet says:

    If an Air application is packaged as a native application, will this include the Air Run-Time too or has the Run-Time to be installed in advance on the machine? In the first case the applications might become quite large …

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    I want to create a player which plays audio from a CD Rom, Flash can’t do it, Air cant do it, Flex can’t do it. Can any adobe application do it?

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