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So I went to the Adobe AIR tour Milan yesterday, which was fun and well organized. Adobe AIR is a "bridge product" in many ways: it lets you sync data between online and offline state, it lets you use web app development models for desktop apps, it lets you extend your web apps with desktop features like notifications and file-system access.
One kind of "bridging" that didn't occur to me but hit me over the head is that AIR is a bridge between the software of today and the software of the future. When I started developing the AIR version of Mockups I did it because it gave me a good story for customers who wanted to work on their UI mockups in the rare occasions in which they were offline, and it only took an hour or so to do (about 95% of the code of Mockups for desktop is shared with the web or plugin versions, so it was really a no brainer).
The surprise that hit me over the head is that everyone I showed the Balsamiq site to told me roughly the same thing: "I like Mockups but don't have any of the Web Office suites you support, or any at all for that matter. Can I just buy the desktop version?" - I didn't intend to make money from the desktop version when I developed it, and to be perfectly honest the idea of selling shrink-wrapped software to individuals didn't really appeal to me, living as I was in the the wonderful world of SaaS. So I resisted the idea at first, but the more people I spoke with, the more I realized that Web Office and SaaS in general won't be mainstream for maybe another couple of years, and that desktop apps will always have their appeal.
The future is hybrid, with desktop app that sync with the web and work both online and offline. Google is trying to morph the browser into a platform, or look at MobileMe for instance. We shall see, but clearly the games have only just begun.
In the meantime, I welcome the eye-opener and anyone who thinks my little Mockup tool is valuable enough on its own is welcome to buy it, with many thanks from yours truly. 🙂
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You are right. A product like AIR is the future. In fact, I talk about about this a lot and have been calling it the new “Fit Clients” (coined by Burton Group). These types of runtimes which allow you to create applications for both the web and desktop are where the desktop technology is going.
In addition to AIR, you may want to check out Curl (http://www.curl.com). Curl has been around for about 10 years and has always enabled desktop and web development. The latest release, Curl Nitro (still in beta) makes it very easy to create desktop or web applications using the same platform. What’s more is that Curl is easier to learn, much much faster, and more secure and robust than Adobe AIR or Flex. Give it a try if you are interested.
VP of Developers Relations