Picture 8 We all love some of the internet-based applications that are out there and what they can do for you. But, what if those kinds of applications could be moved to your computer? That is what Adobe Air does.

In this 101-level article, I’m going to talk about what Adobe Air is and why you might want to take note of it.

What Is It?

Adobe AIR is a cross-platform runtime environment. In plain English, it is a way for applications to be built and run on any operating system. The programming languages used to build an AIR app are Flash, Flex, HTML and AJAX. These are all inherently web-based programming languages. But, using AIR, those languages can now be used to create a desktop application.

From the programmer’s standpoint, imagine being able to use HTML and AJAX and a webpage editor like Dreamweaver to build a desktop application. It can be done.

Of course, chances are you’re not a programmer so you don’t really care about all that. But, from the end user standpoint, this means you’re going to see (and are seeing) desktop applications that allow you to better interface with Internet services.

How To Get And Use It

In order to run any application programmed with Adobe AIR, you need to download Adobe AIR and put it on your computer. You just download it and install it like any other application.

Then, when you want to install an Adobe AIR app, you just click the link on the website for that app (it usually says “Install Now”). It will automatically launch a small popup window asking if you want to install the application. Confirm and it will do so. From there, the application you install will work just like any other desktop application on your computer.

Whenever an application or Adobe AIR itself gets an update, you will be notified and walked through updating it. Very easy.

Examples

To best understand what AIR is cool for, you need to look at some of the applications that are available.

Ebay Desktop
A full desktop application which allows you to fully interact with Ebay. Overcomes the limitations of using the web browser only.

Twhirl
If you’re a Twitter user, it can suck having a browser tab open all the time for it, tapping F5 to see if there are new tweets.

Pownce
Pownce is another Twitter-like microblogging network and they have their own application.

Nasdaq Market Replay
Stock traders will probably find this AIR app extremely convenient.

Color Browser
A neat way to develop color palettes when putting together a web design.

Google Analytics AIR
Yes, the power of Google Analytics for your website, but in a desktop application.

Klok
A personal time tracker

There are others, of course.

Web apps are are grabbing a huge chunk of the mindshare these days because people are discovering the benefits. AIR is a way to bring that web app mentality back to the desktop. Check it out.