Adobe's rich internet application (RIA) toolkit lifts Flash and AJAX out of the browser and on to the desktop. Adobe AIR 1.0 shines with light technical requirements and good features, but security and OS integration could go deeper.

Adobe AIR 1.0 brings new hope to web developers looking to combine the global connectedness of browser-based applications with the persistence and functionality of first-class, local desktop apps.

AIR (it stands for Adobe Integrated Runtime) packages a host of web technologies and enables RIAs to run outside of the browser on the user's local desktop. Those underlying technologies can be Adobe's own Flex, Flash, and ActionScript, for example, or just plain old HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and AJAX libraries.

The resulting application gains access to OS features such as dragging and dropping to and from the local file system, clipboard access for cutting and pasting between AIR and other applications, network connectivity, encrypted local storage, and perhaps most noteworthy, offline functionality. Thanks to AIR's persistent, local SQLite data store, AIR apps continue to function without a network connection.

Further, AIR apps don't require web developers to learn anything new. They can easily create AIR apps using the tools and techniques they already know. And because AIR is cross-OS compatible, the same application code can be deployed to Windows, Mac, and eventually Linux systems. An alpha version of AIR for Linux is available at Adobe Labs.

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