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Appcelerator Titanium puts more Web apps on your desktop

A new cross-platform runtime environment takes on Adobe AIR.

The line between Web and desktop apps is getting fuzzier Tuesday, with the preview release of Appcelerator Titanium, platform designed to turn Web app developers into desktop and mobile phone developers.

Appcelerator, which makes an open source Web app framework, is targeting Titanium at Web developers who want to bite off a chunk of the desktop market while still using their HTML, CSS and JavaScript skills. Titanium will be going head-to-head against Adobe AIR, letting developers using Appcelerator's SDK compile installable versions of their apps for PCs and Macs (a Linux version is coming later).

Titanium apps are more than web apps running in snapped-off web pages such as with Google Chrome; they're full blown first class desktop apps with desktop app goodies like direct file system access, local database storage, desktop notifications--prerogatives that traditional desktop developers take for granted but Web devs usually have to do without.

Appcelerator rolled out two demo apps along with its Titanium preview: a basic desktop Twitter client, not unlike Adobe AIR-based Twhirl and a contact manager, with source code.

Titanium is open source (Apache Public License) as is the Appcelerator SDK. When I talked to Jeff Haynie, CEO of Appcelerator, he said the company has been making revenue from its web app platform via consulting and training; with Titanium they will be offering premium cloud-based services for Titanium apps.

The company also announced it had raised $4.1 million in Series A funding to bankroll getting Titanium to 1.0 in the first quarter of 2009.