Eating our own dog food – using AIR within Adobe

on_adobe_air_logo.jpgWhilst there are hundreds of publicly available AIR applications that you can download from the AIR showcase, the Adobe AIR Marketplace and other third-party sites, there are some that you might not have seen – the AIR applications that various teams within Adobe are using on a daily basis to improve personal productivity and provide convenient access to internal systems.

I think it’s great that we’re using our own technology to solve business problems – it really demonstrates the capability and robustness of our platform and I hope that by showing some of the applications here, it might provide some inspiration as to how you could use Flex and AIR within your organization or for a customer.

If you’ve attended an Adobe event then you may have seen the Adobe Directory demonstrated – this has to be one of the most useful and widely used tools we have inside Adobe.

Adobe Directory does exactly what it says on the tin – providing convenient desktop access to a directory of all 7,000+ Adobe employees; it works both online and offline, automatically synchronizing local data with our LDAP servers, it can show where an employee sits on an office plan and when connected to the VPN, will show a photo of the employee and their busy/free status using information from Microsoft Exchange. A new version of the application is currently in the works which integrates with ‘Pacifica‘ to provide presence and direct dial capabilities from within the application.

We’ve actually released the source code for a generic version of the directory so that you can build your own company directory application – you can get it here.

Making sure that we provide great customer service and technical support is the job of Adobe’s Worldwide Customer Care organization. To help streamline the process for Adobe employees to request assistance for a customer, the team created the Adobe Customer Care Response Tool – an application that provides a convenient way to submit new issues and track existing support cases.

The tool was built using Flex and is made available as an AIR application, with ColdFusion providing all the necessary back-end services. Given that sales representatives, pre-sales consultants and other field staff are often on the road, the provision of an application that has full offline and data synchronization capabilities makes it far better than a browser-based solution.

Along with evangelists, the other group of Adobe employees who probably spend the most time traveling is the pre-sales team; consultants who support customers who are evaluating Adobe’s solutions, such as Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro and LiveCycle ES. Providing a productive way to capture the interaction a consultant has with a customer, so that the sales, pre-sales and, if necessary, support teams can see what is happening in an account has long been a challenge – with trip reports, either as an email, an entry to a team blog or as a PDF submission process, never quite solving the problem.

To overcome the limitations of trip reports the pre-sales team has recently implemented the Adobe SE Notebook as an AIR application. This application provides a convenient way to record activities, raise issues and submit product enhancement requests, and, as with the Adobe Customer Care tool, this has full offline and data synchronization capabilities, allowing consultants to review and update information whilst on-site with the customer.

The final application I wanted to highlight really plays to Adobe’s strengths – delivering a great experience. The Adobe Presentation Tool provides a way for Adobe’s sales and pre-sales team to deliver more engaging customer presentations – expanding upon the usual PowerPoint slide-ware, to deliver a multi-media rich presentation that leverages Adobe’s technology.

One of the challenges of having a large field organization is ensuring that everyone has the latest version of slides – the Adobe Presentation Tool solves this by automatically updating the core repository of slides available within the application, while still enabling full editing and re-ordering of custom slides so that employees can prepare personalized presentations.

So, that’s a quick round-up of some of the AIR applications we’re using within Adobe. I’m sure there are plenty more I haven’t come across or that are in the works… my vote for the next internal application to be built would have to be for submitting our expenses. Maybe one day 🙂

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5 Responses to Eating our own dog food – using AIR within Adobe

  1. Rob McKeown says:

    Examples like these are just what the doctor ordered. Too many of the examples you find online are not really representative of what can be done with AIR. The more examples of real business type applications that get out there the better.

  2. shaun says:

    Some really nice stuff.

  3. Nick Collins says:

    Hmm… that Adobe Presentation Tool would fit in real nicely next to Buzzword on Acrobat.com.

  4. Those apps are looking great!

    How about combining buzzword to create an integrated Adobe Office application?

  5. I saw the Adobe Presentation Tool used in Flex Camp OC last weekend and just thought it was amazing…very un-PowerPoint, however I’m having a lot of fun trying to find it. Anyone know where I can download the beta?

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