20 May, 2021

4 min.

Electron App Example: 7 Famous Desktop Apps Built With Electron JS

Electron.js makes developing desktop apps a lot easier. Look at the examples of apps made with this powerful framework and discover why those companies chose Electron.JS.

Marcin
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Introduction

We are all witnesses of a revolution where building apps and websites becomes easier every single day.

Electron JS apps are definitely a part of this revolution. If you wonder about developing an Electron app yourself, start with analyzing which apps are using it and why.

Which apps are built with Electron?

Electron app examples

Various companies benefited from Electron in many ways. The best way to understand this JavaScript framework for desktop apps is to see it in practice.

#1 WebTorrent desktop app

Let’s face it – we all love torrents, whether they are downloaded on our mobile or desktop screens.

However, this type of apps still feels a bit outdated and old, which is why the guys at WebTorrent decided to step into action – using Electron JS as their basic developing program.

The result is WebTorrent, the first torrent client working in the browser and one that is completely written in JavaScript and uses WebRTC for peer-to-peer transport.

Without any plugins, extensions or installations required, WebTorrent links the user to a decentralized browser-to-browser network that ensures efficient file transfer.

Why does WebTorrent for desktop use Electron?

Electron steps into action with the WebTorrent desktop version, making it as lightweight, ad-free and open source as possible. Also, it aids the streaming and acts as a hybrid client that connects the app to all the popular BitTorrent and WebTorrent networks.

#2 WordPress desktop app

As the true king of content management systems, WordPress deserved a desktop version that is reliable and automated. Thanks to Electron JS, it entered the list of desktop apps using Electron – as an open-source framework that helps users manage WordPress content.

We all know about WordPress and launching it via our browsers. However, WordPress for desktop is something entirely new – a desktop app using the Electron framework that provides a seamless cross-platform experience, allowing users to focus on their content and design without any browser tabs acting as distractions.

Why does WordPress desktop app use Electron?

Locally hosted and with minimal load times, WordPress for desktop is a desktop app using Electron as a framework, and JavaScript using React as the main language in this emerging desktop technology.

#3 Ghost Electron app

If you have never heard about Ghost, you are not the only one. Basically, Ghost is a fully open-source platform that lets users build and run modern online publications. From blogs to magazines and journals, Ghost is fully hackable and has a real impact on the future of online media.

That is mostly because of the simpler and more focused experience for writing, obviously a product of JavaScript desktop framework among the other technologies.

Why does Ghost desktop app use Electron?

Speaking of, Ghost for desktop is a desktop app using Electron JS that allows writers to manage multiple blogs at once, and focus on their writing. If you are a writer, you probably know that simple things like shortcuts during writing are hard to realize in a browser. However, the Ghost desktop app makes it easier than ever.

Using JavaScript and Node.js on both the backend and frontend, Ghost for desktop is one of the apps built on Electron and ones that deliver a better user experience.

#4 Beaker Browser Electron app

Looking for a reliable peer-to-peer web browser?

If yes, you just found it. Beaker Browser is a participatory browser designed for hackers. Initially designed as a product that can be hacked, Beaker Browser shifts the Web to an open-source format and lets hackers, modders, and creative types make most of their digital skills.

Why does Beaker Browser use Electron?

Electron framework made building Beaker a lot easier. As a toolkit for making browsers, it aided the designing process of Electron with minimal iterations and in the best way possible. In a nutshell, Beaker Browser is a browser for open-source websites and a solution that makes social hacking easier and better than ever before.

#5 Pexels desktop app

For a lot of writers, designers, and publicists, Pexels is a life-saver. As a platform that packs thousands of royalty-free stock images, it definitely needed improvement. And that is how the Pexels desktop app was born, obviously built with Electron JS.

Why does Pexels desktop app use Electron?

This app makes it easier than ever to copy a photo into your clipboard – with only one click. Then, you can paste the photo into any app and use it as a stock image for your article, infographic or social media post.

No downloads means no problems, and discovering new photos is easy thanks to the Pexels desktop app.

#6 Slack desktop app

Another great app using this JavaScript framework is Slack desktop app for macOS.

Why does Slack desktop app use Electron?

It was built with the Electron framework that can be easily seen thanks to its faster performance and the frameless look, unlike the browser experience. For many teams looking for better organization or a more focused workspace, Slack for desktop is definitely the app to choose.

Although Slack for desktop takes a hybrid approach, most of their assets and code are loaded remotely, combining the rendering engine from Chromium and the Node.js runtime and module system.

#7 WhatsApp Electron app

Another one in the line of popular desktop apps using ElectronJS is WhatsApp – the most downloaded messenger app.

Why does WhatsApp desktop app use Electron?

Working less and providing more, Electron framework helped the WhatsApp developers to cover it all in single cost and wrap around the desktop experience of WhatsApp through a more streamlined and revolutionized framework – the Electron.

Why so many companies build cross platform desktop apps with Electron?

  • Electron allows to build desktop apps with JavaScript. To be more specific, developers use web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
  • With Electron, developers build cross platform apps. It means that one app works on Mac, Windows, and Linux. It eliminates the need of having skills in technologies that are used to develop for these platforms natively.

Why is that important?

At the top level we see Mac, Windows, and Linux. That’s already a lot. But on a deeper level, there are multiple versions of those systems. Each one has its specifics, and each one one that is still in use should be addressed during product development. Plus, each platform has its own quirks.

To cope with this development challenge, we need to hire specialists, which often takes a lot of time. Plus, building three specific apps is also a long process. In many cases, that’s not a viable solution from a business point of view.

Consequences

Electron allows businesses to speed up time-to-market (cross-platform development) and use talents they already have or can hire fairly quickly (using web technologies).

Web developers, even if they’re not specialized in Electron, will most likely catch it up quickly, especially if they have experience with Node.js.

App development with Electron eliminates time and talent waste.

Technical decisions should be made with business and product context in mind. Electron is a choice that supports digital acceleration of a company and achieving its business goals.

A few more words about Electron apps

This is a part that will be interesting especially for those who wonder if Electron is a good fit for their next project.

Here are some facts about Electron’s that may be helpful during the decision-making process.

  • Electron is developed and maintained by GitHub and has a big, active community behind.
  • The framework is open-sourced.
  • Electron comes with automatic updates, native menus, crash reporting, and debugging.
  • Electron consists of Chromium engine for displaying web content, Node.js for working with the local filesystem and the operating system, and custom APIs that work with OS native features.
  • From a development perspective, an Electron app is essentially a Node.js application.
  • Electron applications can be perceived as web applications running in the Chromium engine. The major difference between Electron app and a web application lies in the architecture. In an Electron app, the starting point is a JavaScript file that acts as a controller.

Cross-platform desktop app development simplified

In the end, there are many reasons to use create Electron JS apps for desktop. The most important one is obviously the fast transition to the desktop environment, allowing developers a seamlessly integrated experience.

With an improved runtime and great integration with JavaScript and Node.js, Electron JS makes both designing desktop apps and maintaining them on cross platforms easier and better.