progTools and Adobe Air
Avishkar Autar · Oct 23 2010 · Adobe Air
I made a little app to get my feet wet with Adobe Air. progTools just packages together a few common functions I find myself using frequently. You can get it my clicking the install badge (one of the very cool aspects of Adobe Air) below.
(h/t to Peter Elst for the AIR Badge WordPress plugin)
- Conversion to/from a Unix timestamp
- MD5 hash on a string
- MD5 hash on a file
- SHA1 hash on a string
I initially dismissed Air, back when it was Apollo, as I didn’t see the value in having yet another proprietary framework which didn’t really offer much beyond what was capable within a browser, aside from local file access. A few additions to the framework and a few realizations on my part have shifted my views:
- Air supports HTML/CSS for layout and styling. Looking into cross-platform GUI frameworks, I’ve played around with WinForms (cross platform with Mono), Qt, Gtk, and wxWidgets. I’ve been disappointed to various degrees with all of them. It hit me that the most flexible and powerful cross-platform layout and styling framework out there is the HTML/CSS combo. It’s not perfect (e.g. floats, vertical centering) but it’s pretty damn good.
- Support in Air 2 for sockets and interaction with native applications. This vastly opens the field for the types of applications possible with Air.
- Market support from Adobe. The Air Marketplace is perhaps not too impressive, but it’s a major step in the right direction for desktop apps. Both Microsoft and Apple have their own stores planned, but with the success of such catalogs on smartphones for years now, why did it take so long to figure it out?
- Install badges. They’re cool and important as they provide a bridge between the web and the desktop. Odd, but it seems Adobe more-so than Microsoft or Apple seems to understand the web-desktop relationship. Again, why is Adobe, a company that was fairly divorced from the desktop application space, the first to figure out that this was something important or at least the first to actually build it.
A second issue, relevant but not specific to Adobe Air, is code signing; you’ll notice the scary warning when installing progTools. Code signing is bullshit. Expensive bullshit. Yet, every platform developer is requiring it due to some misguided attempt at security. If you want to install progTools, the chain of trust is between me » this web server » you. Sticking a certificate authority in this chain is nonsense – a typical user will not know the CA and cannot establish any level of trust with some random, corporate CA.
Coding signing simply punishes small developers and establishes a new industry to leech from our wallets. In addition, as this user on StackOverflow asserts, it may well hamper the success of Air:
When you visit a site that lets you download an AIR app, it pops up big red screaming warnings about the imminent trashing of your computer, the theft of your identity and a life of torment. Unless, of course, all the bedroom programmers decide to cough up the ongoing cost of certification.
User encouragement FAIL. Hobby developer encouragement FAIL. Technophobe terrorficiation avoidance FAIL.
I love AIR, but I don’t know what they were thinking with the installer. Laywers’ office moved closer to the developers’ over at HQ or something?
Anyways, I’m done ranting. I’ll eventually suck it up and get a certificate as I’m powerless to do anything else.
As for Air, I’ve just scratched the surface, but I’m impressed.
oh, and if you’d like to see something added to progTools, just let me know.