AIR – taking web applications offline

MIT’s Technology Review has published its 2008 list of emerging technologies that it thinks are most likely to change the way we live. One of them is “Offline web applications”. The article profiles an Adobe system: Adobe Integrated Runtime, AIR.

The premise is that ‘Cloud computing’ has drawbacks: users can’t save data to their own hard drives, drag and drop items between applications, or receive notifications, such as appointment reminders, when the browser window is closed. Adobe has therefore developed AIR, which is based on existing tools such as HTML and Flash, to allow programmers to build hybrid desktop applications that people can run on- or offline.

The concept is not unique (Google has also been working towards a similar goal with its Google Gears project), but it shows that we could be moving from a strict black-and-white distinction between online and offline applications to a world in which we work in … er, grey clouds, perhaps? (As southeast London is currently (10am) swathed in thick fog, the analogy seems particularly apt!)

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