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5 Adobe AIR Apps I Can’t Live Without

Bobby Travis

This is a post by Bobby Travis, who wrote with me at 40Tech from 2009 through 2012. Bobby has since moved on to bigger and better things, but I've left all of his great contributions up on the site. - Evan
Bobby Travis
Adobe AIR logo | Lightweight, multi-OS platform for running web apps

Adobe AIR is a lightweight, multi-OS (Windows, Mac, Linux) platform for running rich internet applications (RIAs) on your desktop. While some have used it to simply recreate their webpage outside of the browser, most AIR apps are unique applications in their own right, often bringing new functionality that is not present in their browser counterparts. Adobe AIR caught on quickly with developers, and while it is not as outwardly robust as Silverlight or JavaFX, it does what is needed to bring cloud computing one step closer to the mainstream. There are a multitude of Adobe AIR applications floating about the web now — some good, some… not so much, but more than enough are of the of the former classification to make it worth your time to click the download link and install it. To help you get started, or to increase your current AIR arsenal, I’ve compiled a quick list of the top five Adobe AIR applications I can’t live with out:

Image via Wikipedia

TweetDeck Logo TweetDeck –  A lot of people can’t live without this one. It tops the list of almost every Adobe AIR roundup I have seen. TweetDeck is a fantastically easy way to manage multiple twitter accounts, as well as Facebook and MySpace accounts. Create custom groups for a more organized experience, post to multiple accounts at once, shorten URLs right in the client, and more. TweetDeck is by far and away the most popular desktop twitter client. I highly recommend it.

A close second to TweetDeck is Seesmic Desktop. If TweetDeck doesn’t do it for you, this should be your next choice.

PixelWindow | Adobe AIR Pixel Ruler PixelWindow – This is perhaps one of the simplest AIR applications I have come across, but like many things, it is its simplicity that makes it so valuable. PixelWindow does one thing only: it measures stuff on your screen. It presents the user with an overlay box with ruler markings that can be dragged to whatever size that is needed.  The box then reports the width and height — in pixels of course. You can set presets as well and close the window with a simple double-click. I use this app constantly!

Another useful app for measurement is Calipers. I used this exclusively before I found PixelWindow and still recommend it. It is an onscreen representation of adjustable calipers — and it, too, measures stuff. Very to the point, but not quite as functional for me as PixelWindow. What Calipers does have, that PixelWindow doesn’t is the ability to measure at angles. For this reason alone, Calipers remains in my arsenal – but now as a specialty item.

Klok | Time Tracking with Adobe AIR Klok – Klok is a fantastic tool for keeping track of billable hours on a project. It is remarkably easy to use and is quite powerful. Just add a project and start the timer. When you are ready, you can create custom reports to see where your time is going. Klok is free, something that is exceedingly rare for the features offered.

A more lightweight option that I have found useful (there are several time trackers out there for Adobe AIR) is TimeLoc. It doesn’t seem to have all of the features of Klok, but it is a bit more straight ahead in its use. A further option is Ora Time and Expense.

ShrinkOMatic | Batch Image Resizer Shrink O’Matic – This is a great app for batch resizing of JPEGs, GIFs and PNGs. Just drop an image on the Shrink O’Matic app, and it will be instantly resized as a copy that is placed in the same directory as the original. For dealing with images, it doesn’t get any easier than this.

Another option for image resizing is JustResizeIt. It offers multiple resize widgets that are available at one time and are completely editable. The interface is smaller, and so takes up less screen space, but is not as obvious or easy as Shrink’ O’Matic.

Doomi | A task manager for Adobe AIR Doomi – Ok, so the name is something to chuckle at (at best) — and the url, no better — but Doomi is a highly useful and extremely simple – and pretty – to do list app. Nothing special about it. It doesn’t sync with anything and it doesn’t cook you dinner — but it does its job in an easy to use and unobtrusive way. For a syncing app, I’d recommend RTM Notifier. It syncs with your Remember The Milk account, but is still in Beta, so use with caution. There are also Remember the Task and Google Tasks AIR apps by Jash.

There are so many Adobe AIR apps out now that it is impossible to create a truly comprehensive list without writing a novel. Some good resources for apps though, if you are of a mind to search, are  the Adobe AIR Marketplace, WindyApps, Refreshing Apps, and this article by Web Designer Depot.

Do you use Adobe AIR? If so, what are your must have apps?

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