Posted by: edsyrett | 23 December 2008

Appcelerator Titanium – competitor for AIR?

I just had a look at the post on The Register about Titanium. Apparently Titanium is competitor for AIR – it enables you to write a desktop app in HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

I’m afraid it just doesn’t make sense to me. Why would anybody want to propagate old technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, when instead they can have a leading edge technology in Flex?

Just off the top of my head, I thought of these objections:

  • My experience of JavaScript is that it isn’t typesafe – everything is an Object.  However, ActionScript is a fully-featured Object-Oriented language.
  • Writing with HTML means that a lot of the layout would be done by some runtime or other.  However, in Flex, everything eventually boils down to ActionScript, and you can see the framework code and debug it.
  • I really don’t believe that I could reproduce all the controls available in Flex in HTML/JavaScript, or if I did really need to do such a thing it would take me ages.  However, in Flex, you get a whole bunch of controls that work straight out of the install.
  • I’d be interested to know whether HTML/CSS/JavaScript source can be shared across both a browser-based app and in a Titanium desktop app.  I doubt it – I suspect there will need to be major differences.  However, I just created an AIR app from our existing browser-based app in under an hour – only one file is different and that’s the main application mxml file.

As I mentioned in the last point above, I just created an AIR app from an existing web app.  This now gives us three methods of deployment:

  • Standard web application
  • AIR application running on a user’s desktop
  • AIR application deployed on a Citrix server and delivered to the user via a Citrix session.

Yes, we are looking at deploying AIR via Citrix, and it works.  If a set of users already have the Citrix client installed, why not use it?  We actually haven’t made a decision on which one we’ll go for as we’d really like to use the Citrix deployment, but if the bandwidth isn’t up to it then we may use either of the other two.

But the main point is that Flex Builder offers us a great development environment, and more than one option for deployment.  And for that reason I think Titanium isn’t anywhere near a competitor for AIR – it’s just a gimmick.


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