I was browsing a discussion on linkedin today where someone was describing the merits of Adobe Air but lamented that it was “uncool”. The idea that Air is “uncool” is so right on the money, in a technical sense, in its space, it’s a powerhouse (still with room for improvement). In light of the recent uproar from Adobe Air developers sparked by a seemingly innocuous press release by Adobe describing PhoneGap as their leading cross platform development tool (check out the comments) it made me think about why this is.

To take a step back a bit, I have a feeling the biggest problem for Air in a macro sense is the fact that the web industry including Google, FaceBook et al. is invested in indexing and semanticising HTML. And it’s the web industry with a content focus that seems to have attracted Adobe with it’s seemingly newly re-invigorated pivot toward marketing at Adobe Summit (perhaps they’ve had enough of uncool developers).

In my experience as a Director developer and now a Flash / Air developer I’ve found myself swimming against the current of industry enthusiasm on more than one occasion and eventually having to join them in order to continue a comfortable career. In terms of development I would not go past Adobe Air due to the AS3 language which is Object Oriented and strongly typed and now has GPU access along with a truly amazing raft of APIs, great tooling, debugging and profiling. In short for me it’s a dream.

However business decisions lead marketing decisions which create hype in the public mind space. If they catch on then they lead the entry level developers and educational institutions towards them. Once employers pick up on the hype it’s fait accompli as developers need to learn what people are hiring for. It’s a cycle that feeds off itself that is generally controlled by the marketing message regardless of the merits.

The sad news for Adobe Air is that the technology is vastly more capable and developer friendly than the product which Adobe has decided to market; which is PhoneGap. Unless they make some grand gesture of renewed commitment and motivation to push Air it’ll all be downhill from here.

I hope the future holds something else but it’s at a point now where this is seeming unlikely. The only hope is that the decision makers at the coal face reject the solutions being pushed when it becomes evident that there’s a better, more capable technology that has a huge community of experienced developers using it; Adobe Air (nee Flash).

One thing for sure is that JavaScript as a language is such a huge step backward from AS3 that if Adobe Air becomes no longer viable I’d be avoiding the PhoneGap approach and looking for something that has good reach and all the same language/development features of AS3.

Well we love adobe air here as evidenced by some of the mobile apps and games we’ve developed with this amazing powerhouse of a technology.