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Adobe AIR Developer’s Toolbox: Resources And Tutorials

Originally called Apollo, Adobe Air was released in beta back in 2007 and has gone from strength to strength ever since. You can build an Adobe Air app using HTML, JavaScript, Flash or ActionScript relatively simply. Basically anyone with even a little knowledge of programming and a little patience can create rich Internet applications.

Below, we present the Adobe AIR Developer’s Toolbox: Resources and Tutorials, a round-up of tutorials, links, references, cheat sheets and showcases that will help you create the next popular app.

What is AIR and How To Get Started? Link

First things first: Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) is a cross-platform runtime environment for building rich Internet applications using Adobe Flash, Adobe Flex, HTML, or Ajax, that can be deployed as a desktop application. The runtime bridges the “classic” user experience within Web-applications and rich, highly sophisticated user experience in modern desktop-applications.

Adobe AIR Toolbox1

To do so, the runtime complements the browser adding desktop integration, local data access, embedded database, convenient desktop APIs and a cross-operating system compatibility. In other words, Adobe Air makes it possible for web-developers to run rich Internet applcations outside the web browser (similar to Mozilla’s Prism) – on the desktop – and also guarantess cross-compatibility across operating systems. Hence, applications are created using a mixture of JavaScript, HTML, and Flash. The resulting application is delivered to end users in a single package and rendered using the WebKit HTML engine.

The only requirement is that the users of AIR-applications have the AIR runtime engine installed (very much like Adobe Flash users need to have the Flash-plugin installed on their system). In fact, Adobe AIR is becoming more and more popular with over 100 million installations of the engine across the globe and over 470 AIR-applications2 featured on Adobe AIR Market Place.

Adobe AIR SDK Link

To get you started, you will need the runtime environment for running AIR applications on your OS (download the latest version of Adobe AIR3 – you will be asked for the OS you are using). You will also need the Adobe AIR Software Development Kit (SDK) to develop, build and deploy Adobe AIR applications.

This development kit (will provide you with the framework for AIR APIs, a template for the Adobe AIR application install badge, the command-line Adobe AIR Debug Launcher and the command-line Adobe AIR Developer tool. The kits are available for Mac OS X (22.1 Mb), Windows (15.8 Mb) and Linux (18.5 Mb).

Official Adobe AIR Resources Link

For quick reference here is a brief overview of the essential official Adobe AIR resources that may come in handy for developers of AIR-applications.

Adobe AIR Toolbox

Adobe AIR Help, Support and Forums Link

Adobe AIR Toolbox

Adobe AIR Development Tools and References Link

AIR applications can be developed with any IDE or text editor using HTML, JavaScript, and/or Flash. You can then use the free Adobe AIR SDK to package the applications for deployment on Adobe AIR.

Aptana Studio
Aptana Studio is a free open-source AJAX development environment that offers such features as JavaScript debugging, full HTML/CSS/JS content assist, FTP support and integrated samples. Aptana Studio also offers a plug-in for Adobe AIR development that combines the fully featured Web development environment and complete support for developing, running and exporting Adobe AIR applications.

  • Developing Adobe AIR projects – Aptana Docs
  • Developing Adobe AIR with Aptana Studio

Adobe AIR Toolbox

Adobe Flex Builder 312
An Eclipse-based developer tool that allows for coding, interactive debugging and visual design of the user interface and behavior of Flex applications. Includes support for building desktop applications with Adobe AIR.

De MonsterDebugger13
De MonsterDebugger is an open-source debugger for Adobe Flash, Flex and AIR. De MonsterDebugger itself was built with Flex and AIR.

Adobe AIR Toolbox14

Adobe AIR Extensions for Dreamweaver15
The Adobe AIR extension for Dreamweaver allows you to package and preview AIR application files directly in Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 or CS4, so you can leverage your existing Web development skills to build rich Web-applications on the desktop.

ScaleNine provides inspiration and resources to designers and developers working with Adobe technologies. The site offers a variety of themes and skins to turn vanilla Flex and AIR applications into custom visual experiences.

Adobe AIR Toolbox17

JavaScript Language Reference for Adobe AIR18
Overview of the JavaScript Language Reference for Adobe AIR.

Adobe AIR Cheat Sheets Link

Adobe AIR JavaScript Developers Pocket Guide19
This book provides a quick introduction to developing applications for Adobe AIR. The book gives an overview of Adobe AIR, shows how to set up your development environment, and discusses new Adobe AIR functionality and APIs. Once you have finished reading this book, you should have a good understanding of what Adobe AIR is as well as how to build HTML and JavaScript applications for it.

AIR Cheatsheet20
This 7-pages long Adobe AIR cheat sheet, created by Sean Moore – print out, learn and use as a quick reference.

Adobe AIR Toolbox21

Understanding the Potential of Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) (PDF)
Most of the information that’s been made available about Adobe AIR so far, has been written for the programmers that are building applications, not for the visionaries that are designing the client experiences. The objective of this paper is to provide executives, project managers, marketers and other visionaries with an introduction to Adobe AIR, and information about how Adobe AIR can be leveraged to create next generation web experiences.

Adobe AIR Free Samples Link

Download free sample applications that will help you get started using Adobe AIR.

AIR Examples22
A bunch of Adobe AIR examples that can be downloaded and used for free. Flex and ActionScript examples are available as well.

Adobe AIR Toolbox23

Adobe AIR for Linux Sample Applications24
This page includes basic applications for Linux built by Adobe engineers to demonstrate capabilities of the runtime.

Six must-see Adobe AIR sample applications
Applications available include Twitter Desktop, Kuler Desktop, Fresh, Finetune Desktop, DiggTop and SearchCoders.

Adobe AIR Toolbox

Kevin Hoyt – JavaScript AIR Samples Updated (and more)25
A great collection of 75 Adobe Air samples from Kevin Hoyt.

Adobe AIR Beginner Tutorials Link

Adobe AIR Toolbox26

Introduction to Adobe Air27
“This tutorial introduces you to Adobe Air, a framework to build rich Internet applications.” The first introduction shows you how to create a simple application using HTML/JS technologies.

Build your first Adobe AIR App28
This walks you through all of the basic steps of setting up your development environment for the AIR SDK, with explanations of file dependencies and AIR’s Sandbox Security model. One of the coolest parts of the tutorial is learning how to store data via the AIR API.

Adobe AIR Toolbox

AIR 101
To be launched in AIR, an HTML or SWF application requires an application XML file (a.k.a. an application descriptor file). You can almost consider this application XML file the actual AIR application file: it is initially opened and read by AIR, it specifies application properties such as application window name and size, and it identifies which file (HTML or SWF) is to be loaded into the AIR container.

AIR Beginner Tutorials: Publishing an Application
In this tut, you’ll learn how to publish your work and create an installer for it.

Create a To-do List in Five Minutes Using JavaScript and AJAX29
In this tutorial, you will be shown how to build a simple Web-based application for the desktop with Adobe AIR.

An Introduction To AIR on Linux30
This how-to-article explains how to install, run and use Adobe AIR on Linux.

Adobe Air Tutorials Link

Build a Desktop Application within Aptana and AIR31
Ext JS is an excellent framework for building applications in the Web browser that have desktop-like functionality. But what if you could run your JavaScript-powered application on the desktop like any other native application? Adobe AIR makes this a reality.

Adobe AIR Toolbox32

Introduction to SQLite in Adobe AIR33
A few tuts are on this page. You will learn about: SQLite in Adobe AIR, SQLite Contact Manager, SQLite wrapper classes, SQLite Editor and SQLite YouTube Database.

Adobe AIR Toolbox34

Using SQL with Adobe AIR
If you didn’t know already, AIR comes with a genuine lightweight database: an implementation of SQLite. You can create tables and views, insert and delete data and run queries. The API that does this is the package. If you are interested in using the SQL capabilities of AIR, then read on.

Flash Applications for Use in the Browser and AIR
This tutorial shows you how applications can be developed for both the Web and AIR runtime using a programming pattern known as the “factory pattern.”

Adobe AIR Toolbox

Creating an Image Viewer in AIR With Drag and Drop
Here, you will see how an AIR application can be created to accept image files using drag-and-drop and then individually display those images within the application window.

Custom Move and Resize Window Controls in AIR
This tutorial covers how to use ActionScript to both move and resize an AIR application’s window using Flash controls.

Setting Up an AIR Application with File Associations
You can associate any file type with your AIR applications. This means associated files open in your AIR application. This greatly streamlines your ability to work with external files. This tutorial shows you how to do that.

Adobe AIR Toolbox

Using AIR to Get and Set Clipboard Text
In addition to offering the advantages of running as a desktop application, AIR applications are also able to both get and set content from the operating system’s clipboard. This tutorial shows you how to do both with simple text data.

Adobe AIR Toolbox

Adobe AIR and Flash Tutorial35
In this tut, you will build a little address-book application using the power of Adobe AIR and a local database.

Adobe AIR Toolbox36

Building an Adobe Air application with Flex37
In this tutorial, you will learn how to build an Adobe Air application with Flex, an open-source set of technologies for the development of rich Internet applications.

Adobe AIR Toolbox38

Adobe AIR and Flex – Getting Started
This tut, a short one, helps you get your first AIR application going. The first thing you do is get everything in place to start running and building AIR applications. This tutorial requires a little knowledge of Flex.

Part 1, Build a Note-Storage App39
Part 2, Build a Customer-Management App40
This two-part tutorial is fairly lengthy and in-depth but gets you up to speed very quickly.

Adobe AIR Toolbox41

Create a Data-Driven Application42
The SQLite database engine is fast, lightweight and well suited to client-side data management. In this tutorial, you will learn how to build data-driven Adobe AIR applications using the SQLite components.

WebSnapshot – a simple Adobe AIR application

25 Excellent And Useful Adobe AIR Tutorials and Resources43
An overview of useful tutorials for newbies and professional developers.

The Tech Labs44
A growing blog that contains numerous tutorials related to Adobe Air, Flash and Flex.

Adobe AIR Video Tutorials Link

Webcams, PNGs and AIR
Build an AIR application that takes webcam shots and saves them to the desktop.

Adobe AIR Toolbox45

Drag and Drop in AIR
Learn how to drag and drop files from the desktop to your AIR applications.

Adobe AIR Toolbox

Developing AIR in Flash
This tutorial shows you how to develop AIR using Flash CS3 Professional.

Adobe AIR Toolbox

Getting Started With AIR on Linux
In this tutorial, Mike Chambers explains the basics of getting set up with AIR on Linux.

Air Tutorial – Installing AIR SDK46

Embedding a Browser in Flex 347

Intro to Adobe Apollo (a.k.a. AIR)48

Cool Adobe Air Applications Link

A few tuts on this page. You’ll learn about: SQLite in Adobe AIR, SQLite Contact Manager, SQLite wrapper classes, SQLite Editor and SQLite YouTube Database.

Adobe AIR Toolbox50

Random Pattern51
A simple app that creates patterns based on set parameters.

Adobe AIR Toolbox52

Kuler Desktop53
Browse and search color themes from kuler54.

Adobe AIR Toolbox55

Spaz – Your Twitter Friend56
Spaz is one cool Twitter client.

Adobe AIR Toolbox57

ReadAir is nice OSX Themed Desktop Client for Mac or Windows, built with Adobe Air.

Adobe AIR Toolbox59

twhirl is a social software client for Twitter, Seesmic, Friendfeed and

Adobe AIR Toolbox61

Digg Reader62
A Digg headline reader that uses all RSS feeds and auto-updates headlines every two minutes.

GMDesk lets you run Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs and Google Maps as a stand-alone application, letting you do all your mail handling, calendar planning, document reading and map browsing in one spot.

Snoto Photo64
Snoto Photo is a desktop application for browsing your and others’ recent photos. You can also view photos as a slideshow.

Font Picker
A useful app that lets you browse and preview your computer’s fonts.

Moderator is a WordPress plug-in and associated desktop application that allows you to view and moderate comments from your desktop.

Further resources Link

101 Adobe AIR Resources to Add to Your Toolbelt of Awesomeness
Adobe AIR application showcase and resources.

Adobe AIR Toolbox

Adobe AIR application showcase and resources.

Adobe AIR Toolbox67


Footnotes Link

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Paul Andrew is a freelance Web designer. He is chief admin for Speckyboy - Design Magazine, a Web design, Web development and graphic design resource blog.

  1. 1


  2. 2

    Great Resources !!!! Thx a lot ;)

  3. 3

    Abdul Akbar

    April 7, 2009 4:56 am

    Excellent Resources.
    Thank you very much.

  4. 4

    Finally… A central location of Adobe AIR info!

  5. 5

    I love adobe air. Their cross-platform compatibility is great – someone who’s never run linux in their life is able to make an app that works just fine on windows, mac, and linux.

    (too bad with lots of people asking to interface with non-air resources, that advantage will most likely go away)

  6. 6

    Carlos Pinho

    April 7, 2009 5:04 am

    The post is great, but i thought would came The Tech Labs time to get some of their content featured. There are great tutorials there that would fit in this showcase greatly.

    Next time, i see.


  7. 7

    Marin Todorov

    April 7, 2009 5:07 am

    The one single article on my blog that beats by a lot in terms of visits anything else on my blog is the one about “how to uninstall adobe air”

    having said that, adobe air is great … no, seriously

  8. 8

    Smashing Editorial

    April 7, 2009 5:11 am

    @Carlos Pinho (#6): The Tech Labs was added to the list. Thank you.

  9. 9

    Carlos Pinho

    April 7, 2009 5:25 am

    Awesome! Thank you so much.

  10. 10

    excellent resources.Thanks

  11. 11

    Erik van de Wiel

    April 7, 2009 5:44 am

    Thanks for mentioning De MonsterDebugger, awesome to see an app we made on one of the coolest weblogs around!

  12. 12

    As a developer, investing in yet another proprietary technology (be it Air or Silverlight) is counter intuitive. Why waist your time locking into this when you can opt, in many cases, for open standards, including HTML 5?

  13. 13

    Robert (InToGraphics @ the forum)

    April 7, 2009 6:56 am

    In the “About the Author” section, the link to “Speckyboy – Design Magazine” is broken.
    You missed the “y”.

    ” ….. with over 100 million installations of the engine across the globe and over 470 AIR-applications featured on Adobe AIR Market Place. ….. “

    I didn’t realise it was already that big.
    I’ll be installing Aptana a little bit sooner.

    Thanks for this excellent repository.


  14. 14

    Smashing Editorial

    April 7, 2009 6:58 am

    …You missed the “y”.
    so was last time :-( sorry for this.

  15. 15

    Most awesome resources ever!!!!

  16. 16

    Greate resources! Thanks!

  17. 17

    The kick I needed to start working with air!! thank´s SM!!!

  18. 18


    April 7, 2009 9:45 am

    It seems I was waitin for this post.
    Excellent article. Good for a change from past few tired “inspirational” post.
    SM rocks again.

  19. 19

    Great post
    another resource worth to mention is the Tour de Flex component explorer

  20. 20

    Thanks SM! Awesome post, as always.

    @Alon: I’m sorry, but it seems you have no idea what AIR is. It is not “just another proprietary technology”. It’s not an alternative for HTML5. It’s not even an alternative for Silverlight so I don’t even know why you’re comparing them like this. Instead, it is a layer that allows you to build distributable cross-platform apps built in Flash *AND/OR* JS/HTML/Ajax.

    You mention HTML5. Well, AIR is a great way to build HTML5 applications – or will be, when HTML5 is final – because it’s built on Webkit. You know webkit, right? That crazy HTML renderer that gets 100% on ACID3. It’s so web 2.0. So check the resources above and see for yourself. Heck, check the screenshots for Aptana Studio at least – why do you think someone is using jQuery on an AIR project? Because it has nothing to do with Flash, that’s why.

    Keeping your blind ideologies at the door and wearing your pragmatism googles is great when talking about new technology.


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