Electron is the most popular framework but what about Electron alternatives?
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An app built with Electron behaves like a web app, but it can read and write data in the computer’s file system.
Note: The Electron app usually reuses the business logic, design and general structure of a web app.
It’s a great way to save time and money on the business and development side.
Electron is a mature technology with a growing community and thus makes for a great production environment. Thanks to Chromium engine UI rendering, you get access to tools such as Developer Tools and Storage Access.
Now, let’s take a look at various Electron alternatives.
It was built at Intel’s Open Source Technology Center by combining Node.js framework with a Chromium engine (previously known as Webkit).
Note: This solution lets you control parameters such as window dimensions, toolbar and menu items, and it provides access to the local computer files.
NW.js is unopinionated and gives you the freedom to choose frameworks and libraries that you want to use on a project.
Although it’s the oldest Node.js-Chromium framework in the AppJS, Electron and NW.js trio, it’s not nearly as mature as its competition. Because it has lost its momentum, it may not be the best choice for new projects.
In AppJS you get the following:
- JS, HTML5, CSS, SVG, WebGL provided by Chromium
- mature http/https servers and client APIs – Node
- filesystem, DNS, cryptography, subprocesses, OS APIs – Node
- sandboxed code execution environments virtual machines – Node
Although it does not build desktop apps on its own, it can be used with Cordova or other similar tools to produce them. It uses MongoDB, Distributed Data Protocol, and a publish-subscribe pattern to auto-propagate the changes without developer interference.
Key take-away: Meteor doesn’t build desktop apps on its own – it needs to be used with Cordova or similar tools.
It has both front-end and back-end modules, including the API, build tools, Node.js packages.
#5 Proton Native
Proton Native is a fresh release. It was made available on GitHub in the early months of 2018. What Proton Native does for desktop app development is similar to what React Native has done for mobile.
It works quite differently to Electron, which runs a full Chromium browser to manage a small GUI. Proton Native, on the other hand, uses native tools, takes less space and needs fewer resources.
This solution has a few other advantages – it uses the same syntax as React Native, works with React libraries including Redux and is compatible with Node.js.
Key take-away: Proton Native lets developers to manage state and build UIs seamlessly. It uses native tools, is compatible with Node.js, and works with React libraries.
- Frameworks that produce web browser hosted desktop apps, based on Node.js and Chromium (Electron, NW.js, AppJS).
- Frameworks that need to be used with Cordova-like tools (Meteor).
- Frameworks that use genuinely native components to build a desktop app (Proton Native).
It’s up to you which you choose, and it primarily depends on the type of project that you develop.
Hope this short list and overview helped you take a quick look at each of this tools and make it easier for you to decide which solution will perform best for you.
This article is a part of Handbook:Electron Development: A Quick Guide
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