Introduction to ElectronJS

If you are interested in using Web Development skills for developing apps for different desktop platforms like Windows, Linux or macOS, Electron is the perfect framework that suits your needs. Let’s start with a brief introduction to Electron.

ElectronJS: Electron was developed lately in 2013 by the open-source and version control giant, GitHub. Electron uses NodeJs in its core to serve pages built on HTML and CSS as a desktop app. This implies that developers comfortable in HTML5 or Android Development can easily switch their platform to Electron.

The Electron app may be categorized into two main processes, namely, Main and Renderer process.

Performing Culture: There are two process in the Electron performing Culture:

  • Main Process The main process is responsible for creating windows by using BrowserWindow instances. Individual BrowserWIndow instance renderes a webpage in its renderer process. Destroying a BrowserWindow instance implies that the corresponding renderer process is also terminated.
  • Renderer Process There is a single main process which is responsible for maintaining multiple renderer processes. Each renderer process manages the webpage and its scripts running inside it.
  • Electron supports various APIs for both the main and renderer processes, which helps to interact with the desktop operating system and its resources.



    Prerequisites: The main prerequisites which may be considered important for starting on with Electron are listed below.

    • HTML and CSS for User Interface.
    • JavaScript as a main language.
    • Node.js and npm

    Installing Electron: Let’s start with the building blocks of development with Electron.

  • Step 1: Make sure node and npm are installed.
    node -v
    npm -v

    Check if node and npm are installed or not

  • Step 2: Inside of your working folder run the below command from your code editors integrated terminal after that have a look at a basic package.json file, which is used by npm to define properties and import libraries.
    npm install electron --save-dev 
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    {
      "name": "electronapp",
      "version": "1.0.0",
      "description": "Electron application",
      "main": "main.js",
      "scripts": {
        "start": "electron ."
      },
      "keywords": [
        "Electron"
      ],
      "author": "xyz",
      "devDependencies": {
        "electron": "^7.1.7"
      }
    }

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  • Step 3: Now, let’s see a basic main.js file which acts as the main process.
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    const { app, BrowserWindow } = require('electron')
      
    let win
      
    function createWindow () {
      // Create the browser window.
      win = new BrowserWindow({
        width: 800,
        height: 600,
        icon: ( './icon.png'),
        webPreferences: {
          nodeIntegration: true
        }
      })
      
      // and load the index.html of the app.
      win.loadFile('./index.html')
      //win.loadURL('https://google.com/')
      
      // Open the DevTools.
       win.webContents.openDevTools()
      
      // Emitted when the window is closed.
      win.on('closed', () => {
        // Dereference the window object, usually you would store windows
        // in an array if your app supports multi windows, this is the time
        // when you should delete the corresponding element.
        win = null
      })
    }
      
    // This method will be called when Electron has finished
    // initialization and is ready to create browser windows.
    // Some APIs can only be used after this event occurs.
    app.on('ready', createWindow)
      
    // Quit when all windows are closed.
    app.on('window-all-closed', () => {
      // On macOS it is common for applications and their menu bar
      // to stay active until the user quits explicitly with Cmd + Q
      if (process.platform !== 'darwin') {
        app.quit()
      }
    })
      
    app.on('activate', () => {
      // On macOS it's common to re-create a window in the app when the
      // dock icon is clicked and there are no other windows open.
      if (win === null) {
        createWindow()
      }
    })

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  • Step 4: The main process is done, let’s see a basic HTML code which acts as a renderer process.
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    <!DOCTYPE HTML>
    <html>
        <head>
        <title>my first electron app</title>
        </head>
      
        <body>
            <h1>my first electron app</h1>
        </body>    
    </html>

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  • Step 5: This ends our coding part. Now, running
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    npm install --unsafe-perm=true

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    will download necessary node_modules, required by electron to render a page.
    Installing node_modules

  • Step 6: After this, we will launch the app using npm run start, start being the script which we have defined in package.json.

    Output:
  • References: https://electronjs.org/docs/tutorial/first-app#installing-electron

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