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Adobe Apollo Gets New Name, Beta Release

The most significant new feature in the AIR beta is the embedded SQLite libraries, which Google is also using in its Gears offline Ajax libraries. This isn't a coincidence: Although Adobe and Google are rivals in some respects, they have a common enemy in Microsoft and have worked together to apply SQLite to cross-platform and Web-based applications. AIR itself also supports JavaScript, theoretically making Gears unnecessary, though this may be aimed more at giving developers another tool for scripting Flash than at backward-compatibility with Ajax. The only real downside of all these extra features is that they demand a relatively powerful platform. The limitations of mobile devices mean that AIR will be confined to the desktop until 2009. Flex 3.0 also adds many welcome features--the most important is that the Flex libraries are now cached within the Flash player and no longer must be embedded within every application--something that can reduce application size by up to 500 KB. Although in theory this sounds like it could cause versioning problems as the libraries are updated, Adobe says it can guarantee backward compatibility. This will be critical, as developers often cite Flash's uniformity as its greatest advantage over Ajax and Java.
Andy Dornan
NWC Senior Technology Editor

Adobe today released a beta version of AIR, or Adobe Integrated Runtime, designed to help IT build better Web applications.

Formerly called Apollo, the software is now available as a free software development kit. Also today, Adobe released a beta test version of Flex 3 that can be used in conjunction with AIR.

AIR competes with other so-called Rich Internet Application runtimes, including Microsoft's new Silverlight software and Google Gears.

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