Adobe Air steals the show on my desktop - Analytics Users Rejoice! ~ Ask The Admin

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Adobe Air steals the show on my desktop - Analytics Users Rejoice!

Commodore 64 here to report on the next big splash on the scene. First some history.

If any geeks out there remember a time when it was actually a plus for things to run in a browser - along came Macromedia with its FLASHy browser plugin that seemed to work consistently everywhere and broke the boundaries of old-fashioned HTML forever, although still stuck in the 4 walls of a browser.

This was when I was Foxin with the Flash back in '99. Admin and I used to sit and try to dream up the next big way to take over the world and Flash was AWESOME, but not everybody knew what a "Browser" was.

To combat this obvious blasphemy, Macromedia added a cute little feature to it's Flash app which is still one of my favorite old-school, quick and easy, in your face, ad deployment methods - the Flash Player embedded .exe file that ran smoothly and humbly on your desktop with no need for a browser, or fonts, or drivers, or anything really. And your stuff always looked the way you intended it to look. I'm not talking about the Flash plugin - that was, and remains, a pretty reliable medium and is commonplace today in most people's "Browsers."

No, I'm talking about that little, self contained .exe file that basically consisted of your Flash creation embedded in an executable wrapper that played consistently; at least among all the different PC's and versions of Windows on the market. Deployment was the goal of this little self contained nugget of interactive animation, and for the most part, it succeeded.

Now - fast forward to 2008 - in a quick recap - Adobe has acquired Macromedia and all of its Application Library - re-brands all the goodies and resells them, along with a bunch of integration with Adobe's flagships: Photoshop and Illustrator. All in all a pretty nice package. But through all the hustle and bustle, acquisitions and years of development, the good old Macromedia Flash Player got lost in time.

Today the browser is king of the PC as a deployment medium, which would explain why the self contained .exe Flash Player got lost. In the wilderness of browser wars, plug-ins, add-ins, widgets and the such, emerges a reversion back to the desktop, breaking out of the browser once more, as history kind of repeats itself in a sick, geeky way. This time it breaks out on a caveat.
Take me for example. I work day in and day out, mostly with at least 3 browser instances open and I don't always want applications that only run in a browser. Especially when that browser does a poor job of memory management and tends to slow to a crawl. One of my favorite applications to have running in a browser tab is Google Analytics. Being a long-time sociology buff and front end web developer, I'm sure many like myself would agree that Google Analytics is a plethora of insight and information. And in the position of a front-end guy, I can actually do something with this info.

Bear with me, here's where it all ties together.

Adobe has re-released (in my opinion) the self-contained .exe Flash player, but gave it a complete facelift and a few power-ups. This comes in the form of Adobe's new out-of-browser deployment environment called Adobe Air. And, oh yeah, did I mention it's FREE, as in F R E E, just the way we like it - read on.
From the Adobe website:

The Adobe® AIR™ runtime lets developers use proven web technologies to build rich Internet applications that deploy to the desktop and run across operating systems. Adobe AIR offers an exciting new way to engage customers with innovative, branded desktop applications, without requiring changes to existing technology, people, or processes.
Now kiddies, if that wasn't enough, they have a crapload of super-widget like plug-ins to totally deck out your desktop here and here.

Now, the cherry on the cake. While perusing through the catalog of plug-ins I found the sickest, sweetest app for Air.

Anybody out there who uses analytics would agree that it is already one of the most feature-rich FREE applications out there. Now it's even faster, smoother, and graceful due to the efforts of one very enterprising Adobe (ColdFusion, I believe) developer who calls himself septek.

Septek developed an app for Adobe Air that seamlessly integrates Air with Google Analytics. Words can't describe how tight this little app is, though here I am trying to. In the end you have a smooth, clean, ultra fast version of analytics that runs right off of your desktop, rather than your browser. Which can free you up to use your browser for other things that don't have an Air counterpart. Let's see if the author's description does this gem any justice:
The Google Analytics Reporting Suite brings Google Analytics to the desktop, with a host of features that help you understand how your website is performing and where you can improve. From tracking your visitors, referrals and campaigns to viewing your AdWords ROI metrics, the Google Analytics Reporting suite is a must-have for every web business.
In my opinion that description only scratches the surface of what Analytics can do in general. But this front-end for Google's reporting suite really makes the experience that much more pleasing. Here's an example:
Personally, I've been waiting for a slick new front-end for analytics and this little Air app is the answer to my wish. Anybody out there who uses analytics will be pleasantly surprised by the sleek, smoothness of this new UI front end for an application that was already pretty far up on the road to perfect.

Kudos to septek for a sensational app for Adobe Air, and kudos to Adobe for opening up this development environment for everyone.

On a side note, AskTheAdmin has hit an all-time milestone in its growth.

As of now, if you search Google for simply the word "admin" we come up as #4 in the search result. Check it out for yourself if you dont believe me.

You think your big time!?! #4 on any natural Google search is BIG time. Props all around!

Commodore 64 (The one you used to play Bruce Lee on)