An Introduction to Building Desktop Applications with Electron

Electron.js: A Quick Guide

Electron.js is an open-source framework for creating desktop apps using web technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. As a result, developing desktop apps is no longer limited to C++, C#, or Java developers, as web developers may now use their abilities to deliver industry-standard desktop software.

Web developers can wrap their existing web apps with Electron.js to construct desktop applications and generate installers for Windows, macOS, and Linux platforms using a mix of Chromium (the open-source version of the Google Chrome browser) and the Node.js JavaScript engine.

Github maintains Electron.js, making it a reliable project backed by a solid team of engineers.

Why Should You Use Electron.js?

Before Electron.js, if an application wanted to run on two or more different desktop operating systems (for example, Windows and Mac), it had to be developed individually for each platform, using platform-compatible languages such as C# or Visual Basic for Windows and Objective-C for Mac. If the developer chose to write cross-platform desktop software in Java, the user would need to install a Java runtime on both platforms in order to use the application.

Electron.js, on the other hand, can produce installers for all platforms from a single codebase, eliminating the need for installation. As a result, an application for certain platforms can be developed by a single development team. Another important benefit is that if you can construct a website with Electron.js, you can build a desktop program with it, therefore existing web developers/web development teams can quickly transition to desktop software developers.

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Building an Electron.js Application: Prerequisites

To start building apps with Electron.js, you’ll need the following items:
1. Basic knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
2.Node.js installed on your system
3. Basic knowledge of Node.js

Structure of an Electron.js App

Structure of an Electron.js App Bigscal

1. Chromium is part of the Electron.js stack that is in charge of producing and displaying web pages. Web content is rendered in Electron.js’s Renderer process (more on this later), and you have access to all browser APIs and development tools, exactly like you would in a regular Google Chrome browser, thanks to the Chromium environment.

2.Node.js is the Electron.js component that offers you access to system features. Electron.js runs Node.js in its Main process (more on this later), allowing you access to everything Node.js has to offer, including filesystem interaction, operating system interaction, and more…

3.Electron.js includes an API of easy-to-use modules that allow you to do activities like building and showing a context menu, displaying desktop alerts, working with keyboard shortcuts, and more to enable developers to construct standard desktop experiences and interact seamlessly with native functions.

The Main and Renderer Processes

A running Electron.js project has two sorts of processes: the Main process and one or more Renderer processes.

The Main process, which is basically a Node.js environment, is where an Electron.js application starts. This is where all native functionality interaction takes place.

The main procedure is in charge of producing web pages. It accomplishes this by establishing a new Electron.js BrowserWindow object. This has a new web page with its own Renderer process. More than one web page can be created by the Main process, each of which runs in its own Renderer process.

Electron.js apps typically start with a default web page that serves as the app’s launch screen. If your program requires it, you can add more displays.

Each Renderer process is in charge of its own web page and is entirely separate from the other Renderer processes and the Main process. As a result, if one Renderer process dies, it has no effect on the other Renderer processes. By removing its BrowserWindow instance, a Renderer process can likewise be terminated from the Main process.

The Renderer process only has access to browser APIs such as the window and document objects out of the box. This is due to the fact that the Renderer process is nothing more than a running Chromium browser instance. It may, however, be set to use Node.js APIs like process and requirements.

Main Process Bigscal

Communication Between the Main and Renderer processes

In an Electron.js application, you’ll frequently wish to access native functionality in reaction to events, such as a user hitting a button. However, because the Renderer process and Main process are entirely isolated from each other, native functionality cannot be accessed directly from the web page.

Electron.js makes this feasible by providing an IPC (Inter-Process Communication) channel that allows the Renderer and Main processes to communicate with each other.

Using the ipcMain and ipcRenderer modules for the Main process and Renderer process respectively, you can emit events from one process and listen for events in the other process. You can also pass data from one process to another. In the exercise done later in this tutorial, you will use these modules to communicate between the Renderer and the Main processes.

We hope you enjoyed our post on the Introduction to building desktop applications with Electron. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comments below. If you like this post, please share it to help others find it. We are Building a Desktop Application in Part 2.
Let’s Continue in the next Part…


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