A great question came out of the comments on my last post “Why Can’t I Run My App in the iOS Simulator” asking if it is possible to export the mobile simulator from Flash Builder to allow you to distribute builds for functional testing/validation. The quick answer is yes (but you don’t really export the simulator).
Let me explain… When running or debugging a mobile application directly within Flash Builder’s environment, you really are running a local desktop application within the ADL executable (AIR Debug Launcher) that is part of the AIR SDK. The size/layout of ADL in this case is locked to imitate the experience of a particular device/configuration. The mobile application isn’t running in a device-specific simulator.
All Flex/AIR mobile applications can actually be exported as .AIR files that can run within the desktop runtime environment. This enables you to easily repurpose an application from mobile to desktop.
Keep in mind, this does not mean there will be a 100% parity between desktop and mobile features, interaction, and performance. Interaction paradigms, such mouse vs. touch, keyboard vs. hard-keys vs. soft-keys, form factor, as well as hardware (CPU/memory) may all have critical impacts in the overall experience. Again, if you are targeting mobile devices, then it is imperative that you test your applications on real, physical devices to identify any kind of performance issues, bugs, or UX issues.
To export a mobile application for desktop usage as a .AIR file, just select the “Signed AIR package for installation on desktop” export option within the “Export Release Build” dialog.
The exported AIR file will use the standard AIR runtime, inclusive of cross-platform features and the AIR installer. Note: I used a local dev certificate in this example, with just the default options.
At runtime, it will look like any other AIR application. You can configure the AIR app-xml descriptor files to customize it.