Electron is a framework that enables you developing cross-platform desktop applications using web technologies. In this blog post i'll assume that you already know how Electron works and that you've also tried it out yourself.
If not so, here are a few links to start:
- The official site: http://electron.atom.io/
- Its official docs: http://electron.atom.io/docs/
- Awesome Electron: https://github.com/sindresorhus/awesome-electron
If you're looking for a good introduction into the topic i can recommend Developing an Electron Edge, a book which i've co-authored.
Browserify for renderer processes
Renderer processes are basically the windows you open from your main process.
They are browser windows with an optional
happened to stop using the
nodeIntegration feature most of the time firstly because
of possible security risks and secondly because i often work with Babel
which has to be bundled and transpiled anyway. Browserify therefore is my tool
of choice and i prefer its simplicity over the more bloated Webpack. That being said,
both of them are great tools and they both do the job.
Browserify for the main process
This is where it gets interesting. You may ask yourself "why would i need to use
Browserify for the main process? Can't i just use Electron's
function?". This is right, and it is enough in most of the use cases. However,
when your app starts getting bigger you may notice that your build artifacts also
become a lot bigger. That often is the case when you use a lot of npm modules.
Although Browserify was created to use Node modules in the browser, it can also be used to bundle your Node modules for Node itself.
When you're developing an Electron application you have a single main process. This process handles the whole lifecycle of the application and one or multiple renderer processes can be started from it.
It took me quite a while to get Browserify to bundle my main process file but i've eventually succeeded in doing so. Here's how it's done:
Install Browserify as a dev dependency
This is the way to go. Browserify can also be installed globally but having this on a project basis makes more sense.
npm install browserify --save-dev
Set up a npm script
package.json file create a new script called
"bundle": "browserify --ignore-missing --no-builtins --no-commondir --insert-global-vars=\"global\" --no-browser-field main.js > main.bundle.js"
Those parameters are all needed if you want to bundle up your main process.
is the script where you've implemented your main process. The generated bundle
main.bundle.js needs to be set as the
main script inside your
Minify the bundle
This step is optional. If you want to save a few bytes in your build artifacts or want to easily make your code unreadable for your users you can uglify it.
Just do an
npm install uglify-js --save-dev and enhance your
"bundle": "browserify --ignore-missing --no-builtins --no-commondir --insert-global-vars=\"global\" --no-browser-field main.js | uglifyjs -c > main.bundle.js"
Package your application
Most of the time i use electron-packager for
npm install --save-dev electron-packager and define another script
for the packaging:
"bundle": "browserify --ignore-missing --no-builtins --no-commondir --insert-global-vars=\"global\" --no-browser-field main.js > main.bundle.js",
"package-macos": "electron-packager ./ --ignore=\"(^(/main.js)$||node_modules/)\" --platform=darwin --arch=x64 --overwrite --out build/"
Of course you can add package scripts for other platforms as well.
Notice the smaller size
Check out the size of the generated build artifacts and notice how they've become smaller. The bigger your application gets and the more npm modules you use, the more you can save through this additional step.