Electron

If You Can Dream It, Electron Can Do It

In a world where the web has become the dominant platform for nearly everything, is the desktop dead? Although it may seem so, the answer is a resounding “no.” Why? Because without the desktop, the web would only have mobile devices for access. And although mobile devices comprise almost half of user interaction with the web, there’s no way the world of business will give up on the desktop.

That means the market will always be open to desktop development. However, your business has probably become quite focused on growing its web and mobile presence. This is made incredibly easy (and flexible), thanks to web applications.

Web apps are applications that are served to either a desktop or mobile device from a server (instead of running locally). Web applications are accessible via a web browser and require an active network connection to run. These applications have become increasingly popular due to their ability to run on nearly every platform. So developers can enjoy “write once, run everywhere” programming.

But there’s another option available, one that can deliver a desktop-like experience, using web technologies. This type of application is built with Electron, which is an open-source software framework (developed by GitHub), that combines the Chromium rendering engine and the Node.js runtime to deliver desktop GUI applications.

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Electron Developers Hiring Guide

  • How to choose the best
  • Interview questions
  • Job Description

What can you make with Electron?

The most popular Electron apps should give you a good indication of their popularity, flexibility, and usability. Some of the most popular desktop apps, created with Electron, include:

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    Microsoft Visual Studio Code
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    Slack
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    Skype
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    Discord
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    WordPress Desktop
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    Tusk
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    Calmly Writer
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    DevBook
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    LightYearVPN
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    LoopTeam

You can check a comprehensive list of apps created with Electron, which illustrates the diversity and range of applications you can build with this exciting framework.

Electron allows development teams to ship cross-platform applications that work seamlessly across devices. Think about that: Your company can deploy an Electron app that will work on a mobile device or a desktop/laptop that offers the very same experience, no matter the platform. In a world of constantly evolving devices, the importance of that can’t be overstated. 

And because Electron apps use HTML/CSS for the UI, developers have considerable freedom to create user-friendly, exciting interfaces for their apps. This also means developers don’t have to fight against the constraints of native UI kits or systems.

The basic Electron app consists of just 3 files:

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    package.json (the metadata for the app)
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    main.js (the code for the app)
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    index.html (the UI for the app)

The framework for the app is then provided by the Electron executable file (electron.exe in Windows, electron.app in macOS, and electron in Linux — all of which can be renamed for branding purposes).

All of this to say, your developers can not only make cross-platform apps that run seamlessly across all devices, but do it quickly, simply, and effectively. 

In the modern business world, this is crucial to remain competitive.

What else can Electron do?

One of the most important things that Electron apps can do is work with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. This is possible thanks to TensorFlow and Vue.js. Adding WebGL-based GPU acceleration into the mix will certainly bolster your efforts, as it will gain the added benefit of modern GPU performance (and your developers won’t be restricted to Nvidia and CUDA-enabled hardware).

But to really make AI and ML work using TensorFlow, your developers might have to call upon the help of a high-level API, called face-api.js, which wraps all of the low-level operations and provides an API for common tasks like face recognition and emotion detection.

What this means is that the limitations of Electron are almost non-existent. If you can dream it, your developers can make it happen with Electron. And since those dreams won’t be hindered by platform specificities, the sky’s the limit with your audience.

This is why Electron should definitely be on your radar. Instead of only writing apps for mobile, web, or the desktop, write for every platform. 

Department each year, and, after a series of detailed interviews and evaluations, less than 1% of these candidates are hired. These are the most talented software engineers who become BairesDev employees, allowing our clients to quickly develop high-quality projects in a cost-effective manner. 

Our enterprise software development services are designed for large-scale projects. We take care of everything software-related: from project layout to quality assurance testing to maintenance. No matter your industry or area of expertise, our goal is to create impactful technology solutions so your enterprise can generate value and achieve its goals. Contact us today and let us know about your enterprise, your objectives, and any ideas you want to turn into real software.

Develop with caution

So far Electron sounds like the perfect route to take for your company’s new application plan. And it might very well be. However, you must keep in mind that, because Electron applications are web applications that run within the Chromium engine, they are susceptible to attacks, such as cross-site scripting and privilege escalation. In fact, if the Chromium engine is vulnerable to a specific attack, your Electron app could also be.

Because of this, your developers need to always be up to date on the latest flaws, bugs, and vulnerabilities surrounding not only the Chromium engine but also Node.js. Make sure your engineers are always using the most recent Electron framework releases.

Electron Hiring Guide

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    Hiring Guide

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    Interview Questions

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    Job Description

What is Electron?

Electron is a framework that leverages web technologies to create native desktop GUI applications. It’s free and open-source and maintained by GitHub. 

Using the framework, developers can build cross-platform desktop apps using JavaScript, CSS, and HTML. It utilizes the Chromium rendering engine and Node.js runtime. Electron apps are capable of running on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Along with GitHub, Electron is maintained by a huge community of developers, who actively contribute to the framework regularly and support peer developers. As you can see from the above list of companies using Electron, the framework facilitates the creation of many different types of applications.


How difficult is it to find an Electron developer?

Electron is a fairly popular technology that is backed by a large community. Developers who are versed in languages like JavaScript should be able to learn the framework quickly and easily. 

There is one hiccup that might hinder your search to find an Electron developer. Desktop application development is not as popular as mobile in today’s world, which means you may have some trouble looking for someone who is eager to specialize in Electron. That doesn’t mean these developers are impossible to find, though. It just might take a little extra effort as you search for someone who has extensive experience using the framework. 


What to look for in an Electron developer

Electron isn’t too difficult for an experienced developer to pick up, but you should still seek a professional with experience using the technology. They will need to be a strong JavaScript developer with plenty of desktop application experience and knowledge of other programming languages such as C++, along with Node.js API and other tools and frameworks.

What are some of the main benefits of using Electron to aid development?

Electron offers a huge number of advantages that make desktop application development easier and quicker. For one, it can be used on all major operating systems — Windows, Mac, and Linux. It’s not that difficult to learn and master, either. Apps built using Electron can be set up to be automatically updated, which can save time and effort.

Electron also comes with a large community that lends support, resources, and troubleshooting tips to developers who use it.


What are the types of processes in Electron?

Electron utilizes a multi-process model, with 2 types of processes: main and renderer.

The main process is responsible for the state of the application, created as soon as the application is launched. It interacts with the operating system’s GUI. Meanwhile, the renderer process focuses on running the user interface of the app.


Explain packaging in Electron

You must package your desktop application for each operating system — Mac, Windows, and Linux — in order to distribute it with Electron. There are both tooling and manual approaches you can use to do so.


What are environment variables?

Environment variables allow you to control application configuration and behavior without having to change the code. The 2 types are production variables and development variables.

Production variables are used at runtime within packaged apps. Development variables are usually used for the development and debugging of the app.


What is Inter-Process Communication in Electron?

The Inter-Process Communication (IPC) module facilitates both synchronous and asynchronous messaging between the main and renderer processes within Electron. There are 2 IPC modules:

  • ipcMain
  • ipcRenderer

What are the types of menus in Electron?

Using Electron, you can create 2 different types of custom menus. The application menu, the first kind, is labeled with your app's name. It appears within the app itself, at the top as a drop-down menu. The second type is a context menu, which is triggered by user interactions, such as by right-clicking with a mouse while using the desktop app, causing the menu to appear on the screen.

An industry leader in web development is in search of a talented JavaScript and C++ desktop engineer to join our rapidly growing team. Your main responsibility will be to develop and build upon existing cross-platform desktop applications using Electron.

Responsibilities

  • Develop high-quality desktop applications primarily using JavaScript, along with languages like C++ and others as needed
  • Maintain a high standard of exemplary code delivery
  • Leverage frameworks and open-source technologies including Electron and Node.js 
  • Work closely with the QA tester, PM, designers, and other team members to optimize development and resolve issues
  • Research requirements
  • Provide mentorship and feedback to junior team members
  • Implement DevOps and agile practices and methodologies
  • Communicate with stakeholders

Skills And Qualifications

  • At least 5 years experience developing desktop applications using JavaScript
  • At least 3 years experience using Electron and Node
  • Fluency in additional languages such as C++, C#, TypeScript, Rust, Objective-C, Swift, and others
  • Experience working with multiple platforms and operating systems
  • Experience developing cross-platform applications for macOS, Windows, and Linux
  • Unit-testing and debugging skills
  • Experience creating CI/CD pipelines
  • Knowledge of Git
  • Familiarity with MVC architecture
  • Software design
  • Strong communication, problem-solving, and collaboration skills
  • Experience teaching and mentoring other developers
  • Comfort with DevOps and agile best practices and methodologies

Conclusion

Even with its caveats, Electron is a powerful framework that can enable your developers to create exciting apps to run on nearly any platform. If you’re looking to expand your mobile, web, or desktop application presence, don’t overlook Electron as an option.

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