Okay, maybe my tongue-in-cheek, roasting of Ryan Stewart didn’t go over so well. But, at one point in the post/rant I mention working on a project called WebRunner that, IMO, is a competitor to Adobe AIR. I, unsurprisingly, feel that WebRunner does a better job complementing the Web and is a better fit for web applications in general. Both systems allow developers to run rich internet applications (defined as you wish) on the desktop. That’s in itself is both novel and interesting to many developers. However, I think WebRunner and AIR are suited to slightly different applications.
I see Adobe AIR as a desktop runtime for Flash applications. This is a nice boon to Flash developers who have long waited to escape the browser as a runtime. Although AIR supports running DHTML/AJAX/Ajax style web applications through its embedded WebKit renderer, this will likely be overshadowed by the Flash-based applications. Of course, this is just me talking, but most “applications” I have seen running in AIR are Flash-based.
WebRunner, on the other hand, is completely built around a browser – the same browser found in Firefox. Any existing web application should operate in WebRunner without any changes. Create an instant desktop version of your web application. Of course, its not really a desktop version – its just running in a Mozilla browser without any traditional browser chrome. WebRunner doesn’t change how you build web applications. It doesn’t impose a new stack of technologies, it works with the Web.
WebRunner does have the ability to add “features” to web applications such as:
- Support for simple desktop integrations like displaying alert popups, registering as content handlers for local files, and access to the file system.
- Greasemonkey-like application scripting to tweak the UI, access the simple desktop integrations or add offline features, not already built into the web application.
Its important to point out that these “features” are completely optional and can be added in a very mashup-friendly manner that most web developers and power users are already using.
There is definitely more to come from WebRunner.