AIR Install Experience

If you haven’t gotten your personal dose of AIR yet, check it out at http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/air/

The install experience for an AIR application has been the subject of much effort internally, and many questions externally. One of the common questions revolves around the relatively “scary” nature of the installation dialogs.

One of the goals of the installation experience is to accurately communicate to the user the potential risk of installing AIR applications in general. An AIR application is a fully privileged local application, with similar powers and risks to a native application–including full filesystem read/write access. As such, the danger is that developers, IT administrators, or users could assume that AIR applications are somehow intrinsically “safer” to install since they are based upon web technologies.

One way a developer can improve the installation experience for the user is to sign the AIR installer file with a commercial code signing certificate. To see the difference in the installation experience for such an application, check out the “Employee Directory” sample AIR application here: http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/air/samples/

In the future there may also be more restrictive sandbox types that provide a “safer” type of AIR application, with a corresponding installation experience to encourage developers to develop applications with the minimum level of necessary privilege.