Adobe AIR 1.5 issue – solution and support experience

I recently had a lot of problems with the Adobe AIR framework so I thought I’d share that information with you.

Background

Last summer I was busy developing a few Adobe AIR applications (GMDesk, facedesk, Memory), and then during the fall i didn’t do much of that.

Then in November last year Adobe released version 1.5 of the Adobe AIR framework and eventually, during the beginning of this year, I looked into it to see if any of the problems and annoyances I had encountered previously had been solved.

However, when I installed version 1.5 on my Mac, no Adobe AIR application would work. No matter which one I tried, they just froze on me when I started them, and I had to force-quit them.

The support experience

January 23rd I contacted Adobe support through its web site, and heard back from them within a few days. And, even though they gave me polite and fairly swift replies, it took all the time to March 3rd to solve the problem (to be honest, the last week there my replies weren’t that fast either). However, that’s a total of six weeks to make any AIR app running on my computer!

The Swedish support, where my journey started, failed to solve my problem (I didn’t choose Sweden, I got directed to them through IP or something), so eventually I got a direct e-mail from a Adobe person in the UK with the solution. Interestingly enough, he didn’t write the solution in the e-mail itself, but rather linked to a comment in a blog post from Mike Chambers, who’s one of the people on the Adobe AIR team.

The problem itself

It seems that Adobe AIR, since it’s based on the WebKit rendering engine, has a severe problems with InputManagers, such as SIMBL, on Mac computers (note, this does not apply to any computers running Windows or Linux).

The solution is to completely empty any Input Managers you have installed on your Mac, located under /Library/InputManagers and ~/Library/InputManagers (the Library folder located under your user folder). If you do that, the problem magically disappears!

SIMBL usage

The downside with this, though, is since the Safari web browser basically has a non-existent plugin/extension structure, smart developers have used SIMBL to extend Safari with all sorts of nice features. A quick look at something like Pimp My Safari shows just how important this approach is.

I will leave it unsaid if Safari should totally change its extendability or not, but this means that if you want Adobe AIR 1.5 to work on your Mac, you basically can’t extend Safari. And even if I’m mainly a Firefox users, for me it’s a pretty easy decision whether I want to be able to extend Safari or run Adobe AIR (let’s just say Adobe isn’t close to winning that one).

Adobe has to make sure Adobe AIR works even though people have InputManagers like SIMBL installed. Nothing else is even an option to consider.

My take

My general take on all this is three-fold:

  • Shouldn’t this information be on a notice board for all Adobe staff to check when issues arise with Macs and Adobe AIR 1.5? And, in a better location than a blog post comment?
  • Adobe AIR has to be completely independent from any settings that will affect Safari on a Mac, and vice versa.
  • Being egoistic, and perhaps a bit shitty, now: before Adobe AIR Marketplace changed its design, it was possible to see that actual number of times a software had been downloaded. Comparing the numbers there to the number of GMDesk downloads, GMDesk was, as far as I could see, amongst the highest 20 or so installed AIR applications available. With that in mind, if it takes Adobe six weeks to help out a developer behind one of the most popular installs, can you imagine the developer motivation just sipping out, and getting tired of that platform?
Posted in Adobe AIR,Apple/Mac,Developing,Technology |

10 Comments

  • BARTdG says:

    With that in mind, if it takes Adobe six weeks to help out a developer behind one of the most popular installs, can you imagine the developer motivation just sipping out, and getting tired of that platform?

    Exactly. If they don’t even care to take swift action on your problems, why should I hope for better service if I were to try Adobe Air? Your post reminds me of a recent article about iPhone developers getting frustrated by bad service by Apple’s App Store. I just don’t get. These developers are supposed to be really important for platfoms like these.

  • mdmadph says:

    At least you found a solution to your problem — I've been trying to diagnose why AIR on Ubuntu "steals" the sound output of every computer I run it on: when you're running AIR apps, no other application is able to output sound. Quit the AIR app, and sound returns to normal.

  • Richard Fink says:

    Thanks for the info. Sometimes companies just throw a thing out there as an experiment – with a "let's see how it goes" attitude and little commitment of resources.

    But how can a developer tell? It's a problem.

  • Tom Trenka says:

    We've run into a similar problem when we launched Queued (http://sitepen.com/labs/queued); it looks like what happens (particularly on OS X but we've had reports with Linux and Vista users as well) is that the ELS, created when the program is first run, is either not created correctly or is corrupted on install.

    We've found that deleting the ELS directory created for the application and then running again solves the problem 98% of the time.

    We've been trying to figure out how to reproduce the problem with no luck; if you have any more insights please don't hesitate to share, since we have an "in" with the Adobe AIR team and can probably get this fixed sooner than later.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    BARTdG,

    Yes, Apple seem to fail a bit lately there too.

    mdmadph,

    Oh, sorry to hear that. Good luck!

    Richard,

    Glad if it helps! And I agree, sometimes the development community have to act like guinea pigs with some frameworks/code.

    Tom,

    Interesting to hear. I don't know anything about it, but if I encounter it or hear anyone else knowing more about it, I'll definitely let you know.

  • @Robert: I wanted to apologize for your bad experience. You are right — input managers like SIMBL cause problems. We have a tech note that we're going to make available on this very soon. Safari does indeed have similar issues with text input managers as well. Again, sorry for the troubles. I'll relay your feedback to the marketplace team as well. Thanks, again.

    – Rob, Product Manager, Adobe AIR

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Rob,

    Thank you! I have always appreciated the humble attitude from Adobe, and I hope you succeed in fixing these and other issues.

  • Arun says:

    Hi,

    Any one knows the solution, am trying to attach the encrypted SQLite database adobe air-adobe flex bulder , it does not get attached using sqlconnection.attach throws error, though the given key is correct, but it gets open using sqlconnection.open with the same key, any one knows the solution, how to attach the encrypted data base, since am using two data base one is opened and another must be attached to the existing ,thanks in advance. using adobe air- flex related. i use the following code

    databaseFile1 = File.applicationStorageDirectory.resolvePath("Sample_1.sqlite");

    databaseFile2 = File.applicationStorageDirectory.resolvePath("Sample_2.sqlite");

    dbConnection.open(databaseFile1, SQLMode.CREATE, false, 1024, secKey);

    dbConnection.attach("db2",databaseFile2,null,secKey);

    got the following error.

    ERROR #3125 Unable to open the database file.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Arun,

    Sorry, I can't help you there.

  • Bryan Rae says:

    As an iPhone dev… I can tell you it pee'd me off no end.

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