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Adobe AIR vs Appcelerator Titanium: Round Two

Well, it's been a few months since my last AIR/Titanium comparison, and the game has changed. Though AIR has only updated from 1.5.1 to 1.5.2, that upgrade brought a ton of bug fixes and enhancements, especially for the Mac and Linux platforms. Titanium has moved from 0.4.1 to 0.6.2, which is a lot of revision.

What's the same?

The development environments for both have not changed. I would like to clarify one point I made about packaging your applications in Adobe AIR versus Appcelerator Titanium — I mentioned the Titanium process was easier becuase you don't have to deal with certificiates. This is true, but the nice thing about AIR's packaging process is that you build one installer, and it runs on all platforms. With Titanium, if you want to run on Windows, Mac, and Linux, you must build three different packages.

What's new in Titanium?

Some of the Titanium Desktop API has changed since Round One:

    
    // OPENING AND READING FROM A LOCAL FILE
    var TF = Titanium.Filesystem; // for convenience
    var r = TF.getRootDirectories()[0]; // typically "C:\" on Windows, "/" on Mac and Linux
    var file = TF.getFile(r, 'path', 'to', 'myFile.txt');
    var stream = TF.getFileStream(file); // open the file...
    stream.open(TF.MODE_READ);           // ... for reading only ...
    var fileContents = stream.read();    // ... retrieve the entire contents ...
    stream.close();                      // ... and close the stream
    /**
     * NOTE: getFile() automatically glues arguments together with the correct
     * file separator for the operating system it runs on. "\" for Windows,
     * "/" for Mac/Linux.
     */
    
    
    // RUNNING AN EXTERNAL PROGRAM
    var notepad = Titanium.Process.createProcess({
        args : ['C:\\Windows\\notepad.exe']
    });
    notepad.launch(); // open the program
    notepad.kill();   // close the program
    
    
    // RESTARTING YOUR APPLICATION PROGRAMMATICALLY
    Titanium.Process.createProcess({
        args : [Titanium.App.path]   // automatically uses your program's executable
    }).launch();                     // inline launching
    Titanium.App.exit();             // close the "old" running copy
    

Where to go from here?

Adobe AIR is still a more mature, more stable platform, but Titanium is rapidly growing and becoming a serious competitor. There are things each suite can do that the other can't, and there may never be a clear winner. If you want to learn more about Titanium, they just released a series of "Zero-to-App" videos along with a roadmap for future videos. Appcelerator seems to be focused heavily on the iPhone and Android phone markets, so if you're a desktop or kiosk developer (like me) you may not get as much from those videos, but it's a start.

Join the discussion!

Do you use Adobe AIR? Appcelerator Titanium? Both? Please leave a comment, let me know what you like or don't like about these technologies.

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