I’ve been thinking about AIR a lot more lately and it prompted me to think about what 2.0 might provide us in ways of building better AIR apps. So, here is a short list of items I think AIR needs in order to make me happy.
- FTP support
I know…AS3 provides the tools for ftp support and there are a few libraries started but stop depending on the community Adobe, for this one not everything. We need this natively in AIR. Maybe not SWF but AIR for sure needs this.
- External executable interaction
In the simplest form I want to tell ApplicationX.exe or ApplicationX.app to run and pass parameters to it (blah.exe -param value). I know there are security issues and cross-platform compat’ issues but it’d be great if you figured this one out.
- Direct database interaction
At a minimum MySQL, SQL Server, and Oracle. Make the core extensible so we, the community, can grow the available database support but lay the groundwork. You already have a solid sqlite core so build on top of that code-base and allow us to specify a type or something.
connection = new SQLConnection(SQLConnection.MYSQL, …)
I know…buy ColdFusion right? Use PHP? .NET? Java? Nix those assumptions. If we want to use them, great, but not in all cases do we have a web server at our disposal. Keep making server integration better but don’t force a desktop app to use a server.
- Email Support
This is just like the FTP support. I know you guys have the tools in place and say it is possible. Well, show us. Provide us with the tools to email directly from AIR. This is a serious need. We don’t need to setup a full web server just to send emails. In some cases, this isn’t possible or is utterly painful and takes forever (especially at big orgs).
I should be able to use full smtp, pop, and imap. Those features would provide a TON of support for a solid number of AIR apps. In AIR 3.0 extend it to integrate with Exchange, etc. Heck, do it in 2.0 if you have the time.
- External library interaction
This is tricky but would blow my mind if it were possible. Basically let me instantiate a DLL , perl script, etc and have it do something for me. I know DLL isn’t cross-platform and the system may not have perl but those are things we, the developers, will have to account for in our own apps. Give us the rope…let us hang ourselves. No need to allow separate installs bundled with our app (like the .net framework or install perl) but at least being able to use outside code to fill the gaps where AIR lacks.
If you provide this one, 1-3 above aren’t as important anymore.
- Webkit plugins
Silverlight and Java at a minimum. It isn’t that I want to build a full blown browser or anything…I just want to be able to support the mass majority of sites out there. Think of the press, “Run Silverlight in AIR” would be all over the blogosphere. hint hint, wink wink. lol Ok…bad argument but it would still open AIR to a broader audience of sites.
- Better installation bundle
We REALLY need to be able to default files to specific locations on install. Right now I can bundle config files with my app and on Windows they go to the location as bundled (ex – bundle in configs/ and on they are in [app folder]/configs/ on Windows) but on Mac they are embedded in the .app file. Someone has to know to view the package contents to get to it. Let me specify whether I want it bundled in .app or in a specific location.
Yes, I know I can use AS to write the files or download then save but that shouldn’t be a requirement. We need more control over the installation.
- Multi-“version” export
This one may be pretty specific but I need to export an AIR file pointing to the QA environment. Once it passes QA, I need the same build pushed to production now pointing to production resources. I’d really like a way to, in the export process, specify different builds. So, a QA build bundled with 1 config and a Production build bundled with another. I know I can simply do two exports right now but I’d prefer to have this functionality native to Flex Builder. This also includes 1 -app.xml vs another. QA may have a different app title or something. I’d like to export these builds accordingly without having to manually change things back and forth each time.
Now, if the Builder option isn’t available, I’d like a way, on the server, to dynamically update an AIR file so the automated processes for pushing to production is seamless. This does not include building the source again, not a valid option. The process, in my case, is completely automated.
I’ll leave it at that. If AIR beefed up to provide most of these there would be an uproar of praise. If no one else uproared with me, you’d still have an army of 1 supporting you.
Let’s see what 2.0 brings. 1.x has been great and I’ve enjoyed working with it but it is time to “beef up” in 2.0. We need much more than what AIR currently offers for true enterprise applications, heck even some small to robust apps need the above.