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Adobe Ascendant

We've spent a lot of time and ink covering Microsoft's Silverlight technology, and for good reason. Initially regarded as a simple Flash competitor for delivering rich media over the Web, Silverlight quickly emerged as a full-fledged application delivery platform. And, as seems to be the case with all successful Microsoft offerings, Silverlight is an amazing lesson in leverage. To wit: It enables millions of .NET-savvy developers to write and package applications for use across platforms and across the Web, via the Silverlight player.

Not that Adobe Inc. is going to take all this sitting down. The company that brought us Flash and basically established the rich Internet application (RIA) shtick isn't done innovating in this market. The Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) platform, currently in beta and expected to launch in Q1 of 2008, is attracting a lot of developer attention. Playing against a loyal audience of Flash developers and bolstered by the maturing Flex 3 development environment, AIR has the look of a capable RIA platform.

Perhaps most significant is the work Adobe is doing to win over developers. As Dana Gardner notes in his blog, the new Flex beta supports ASP.NET and enables programmers to create applications from a SQL database using wizards. The availability of embedded local databases is also a key advantage, since it should enable AIR applications to behave in a much more desktop-like fashion than browser-bound Silverlight apps.

At the Adobe MAX show last week, the company trundled out a host of brand-name companies that are rolling out AIR, including SAP and Business Objects.

Just don't sleep on Silverlight. Our senior editor Kate Richards was at the ReMIX event in Boston yesterday and she says developers there were very excited about Microsoft's RIA platform. Her take: Dev shops find Silverlight to be very manageable -- a far cry from their experience working with the Windows Presentation Foundation native to .NET Framework 3.0.

Is your shop looking at Adobe AIR? If so, we'd like to hear from you. What are your thoughts on Adobe's RIA platform and how does it stack up compared to Silverlight? E-mail me at [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 10/10/2007

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