Adobe AIR Application vs Browser based AIR help

Adobe AIR is a cross-platform run time for building and deploying applications that connect the desktop to the web.  AIR help is a new form of help which uses Adobe AIR technology. This blog will talk about the differences between Adobe AIR Application and Browser based AIR help. Before that lets talk about the similarities in both the output types.

Both the output types can be selected by double clicking the Adobe AIR SSL Layout. Both the output options are having same look and feel. User has option to select different templates in the template page of AIR SSL, and can apply different skins for the templates.  Both of them supports Dynamic user-centric content . User has option to specify the branding options like company logo or different icons or Company text in both the output types.

Now let’s move to the differences of these output types. Both output types caters to a specific segment, Adobe AIR Application is cross platform help format which will give the same look and feel and same browsing experience across Windows, MAC, Linux OS and the main reason is Adobe AIR run time has integrated web-kit engine, which keeps the browser incompatibility issues at bay, Where as Browser based AIR help is a cross browser help mainly used for publishing to any web server, and user can view the help in their respective browser.

Since Adobe AIR Application is a full fledged application in itself, it has many advantages over Browser based help.

  • Adobe AIR Application has an inbuilt support for auto-update of help content. Author need to specify the update XML file location at the time of generation of Adobe AIR Application. When the Help Application is launched, it checks for any new update, and notifies the user if new updates are available. This way author can keep the product documentation always updated.
  • Adobe AIR Application supports commenting feature where in comments can be shared using shared network location or using RoboHelp Server 9.
  • Adobe AIR Application supports comment moderation, Now moderator can accept/reject/delete comment from the same Adobe AIR Application. Comment moderation is supported for both network shared location and Adobe RoboHelp Server 9.
  • Adobe AIR Application supports topic level rating feature where in topic rating can be shared using shared network location or using RoboHelp Server 9.
  • Adobe AIR Application has an inbuilt RSS feed reader, so that the user need not switch to other application to read the RSS feeds. Author has the option to define some default feeds at the time of generation of Adobe AIR Application output.
  • Adobe AIR Application has an inbuilt favorites manager. Author has the option to define some default favorites link at the time of generation of Adobe AIR Application.
  • Adobe AIR Application supports the rendering of online server help, so that the user always see the online updated help at all the times. In case the network connection breaks, then the Adobe AIR Application switches to the offline local help data, this way the user is always able to see the content whether he is online or offline.
  • Adobe AIR Application now has support for run-time configuration file. When the AIR application is distributed, users/System administrator can copy the new configuration file (with modified settings according to their preferences) and can configure the AIR Application settings like enabling or disabling commenting, or changing the comment server/shared network location and many more settings.

Apart from these difference there are some other requirement differences, Adobe AIR Application requires Adobe AIR 1.5.3 or above on the client desktop, where as Browser based help requires Adobe Flash 9.0.28 or above on the client desktop.

Note: All the things specified above are with regard to Adobe RoboHelp 9.


Praful Jain

Adobe RoboHelp Team

5 thoughts to “Adobe AIR Application vs Browser based AIR help”

  1. The term “browser based AIR Help” doesn’t really make sense, and seems like it causes more confusion than it does good . AIR is specifically a method for creating Flex/Flash/HTML-based desktop applications. AIR has absolutely no connection to the user’s browser and cannot run in a browser, and can definitely not be installed as a server application. As far as I can tell, what is being called “browser based AIR Help” is really what used to be called “Flash Help”. Flash runs in a browser .. AIR is a stand alone desktop application that runs separate from any installed browser. Just because this type of Help may have the same features or appearance as that available for *real* AIR Help, is not a good reason to call this “browser based AIR Help” .. this just causes confusion.

    AIR (and AIR Help) has some fantastic features and benefits .. let’s not confuse things by using the terms incorrectly.



  2. There should be more documentation available on installing adobe air based applications. I wanted to install an app and took me 2 days to figure it out

  3. I’m writing help for a client for a new Web-based application. The developer doesn’t want to integrate help files with the application, so I am planning to just provide a link to the help files in their training manual. For storage options, I can place the help on Google Docs or I can put it somewhere on my own Web server. Would generating Adobe Air help files make sense in this context or should I stick to Browser-based help?

    1. hi,
      Adobe AIR generates a single output file which is .air file which need to be installed on the user machine. For the web based application, it is always better to incorporate Browser based help as both will work in the browser of any client.

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