I am starting with my first application development. So far I have worked only with Html, css, js, jquery etc..
I want to create an app like the desktop gmail notifier which pings the server at regular interval, look for any messages and notifies the user. I read that Adobe Air and flex are the tools that can be used for this. I have developed the basic prototype in adobe air by studying the tutorials in net.
But the problem is that, my client doesn't want the source code to be made available to users. With air, you can see the complete source code after installation/unzipping the .air app.
Is there any way I can protect the source code? Or should I use flex and convert it to a swf? Is the source codes are protected in flex? I am not familiar with the flash action scripting. Please advice.
I think you are confused as to what Flex is. It is an SDK that is a level below the AIR and Flash SDKs. Flex is a secondary structural language that is meant to be used in conjunction with AS3, while AIR is compile-type.
It doesn't matter how you compile this, the source code will be attainable if someone really wants to get it. If you compile as an AIR app, you can unzip and get the SWF file. If you compile as a SWF, you already have that SWF. The SWF can then be decompiled using various tools.
I would definitely try to explain to your client that it is simply not possible to truly hide source code from individuals who would like to access it. If someone really wants to steal the code, they can and will.
And AIR and Flash Player are both runtimes which play applications written in Adobe Flash or Apache Flex.
You can use a client-server implementation to hide the logic from the user and flex would just render a UI based on the business logic from the server side code(php,java or .NET) that interacts with the gmail servers
If you want proper notifications, go with AIR - access to some system-level features like toast notifications. With Flex, you'll be limited to webpage content.
About code protection - you can develop app in ActionScript and then protect compiled SWF with obfuscator for some fair defense, although there's probably no good free obfuscators. I paid some bucks for secureSWF license and consider it a good investment. Of course, determined hacker would crack app anyway (in theory,) but I would'nt worry about this too much for a simple pinger app.