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The Need For AIR Apps That Can Do Nothing

Posted by Sravan | May 20, 2009 .

A common defect in most AIR applications that I’ve come across is that they continue to consume CPU cycles even when they are idle. Not just when they are in the background, but even after they are expected to have reached a steady state.

The need for well-performing AIR applications can’t be over-emphasized. Websites using Flex or Silverlight have the limitations of being inside the browser, and so don’t have the same uptime as an AIR app on a user’s desktop. With the users’ predilection for desktop apps, we are going to see more and more AIR apps which will replace some essential tabs in your browser – Mail client, chat client, twitter client, feed reader,… While the user might not have all corresponding tabs open in the browser all the time, the AIR apps will sit in the system tray all day. But if all these apps continue to consume obscenely large number of CPU cycles even when they are idle, the user can’t be expected to continue to use them.

Arno Gourdol has a great article titled Writing well-behaved, efficient, AIR applications which largely focuses on lowering the CPU usage of your AIR apps when they are in the background and/or expected to be idle. It is a must read.

In addition to his mentions, I suggest a couple of different tools for monitoring your apps: Pidstat on Linux (part of the sysstat package), and Perfmon/Typeperf or at least Process Explorer on Windows.

I have just one other suggestion before you go read Arno’s article. Compare. If your AIR app is similar in functionality to a good non-AIR app (or even a single tab opened in your browser), compare the “counters” of the two apps. Be the judge before the user.

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2 Comments so far
  1. radekg  May 22, 2009 8:35 am
  2. Sravan  May 22, 2009 8:53 am

    Great minds think alike. 😛

    Seriously, I think it is no coincidence. People are using AIR apps more and more and surely some of them are bound to notice.

    Thank you for sharing the article, radekg. It is wonderful and a must-read.

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