Building the future of the Desktop – with the Web

As someone who is learning and immersed in web development, services that offer fast-tracked ways for mobile development (like React Native or Cordova) or bringing your ‘web skills’ from to the desktop are something that routinely shows up on my inbox from articles on Medium.

I have recently started using electron to build my own Desktop app, and I have already fallen in love with using web technologies for building a desktop app.
My proposed app is a Windows universal app, but using Electron at it’s core so eventually, I can deploy it to other platforms with some tinkering. But for the minute, my primary core focus is to the Windows Platform (as of August 2016 electron has been fully supported on Windows, and combined with Universal Windows Apps, can create a compelling desktop experience.)
Electron has a nodejs backend and a chromium core, which makes it handy for deploying npm packages on the backend or using standard node development practices.  In my testing and light experience, I have found it stupidly simple to create something that could very well be incredibly handy on the desktop!
The simplicity of web apps in cases on a Chromebook, can often overshadow the importance of having some dedicated software on the desktop. Apps like Slack, Twitter, and even Google Keep, have fully fledged and very simple apps that are also at the same time very powerful and tie in well to their host company’s syncing engines (like Google’s for Google Keep).

With Apple moving towards porting iOS apps over to macos, I believe there will be more of a demand in the future of higher quality desktop apps on multiple platforms that function like web apps or even traditional apps on tablets and phones. Android apps are already available on Chrome OS, Windows has universal apps that run (if made correctly) on the entire Microsoft Suite, and now Apple seems to be bridging the gap between tablet and computer environments.

Electron’s documentation does a great job at walking you through the first steps. however, once you are set up, I find wireframing your app first or just drawing it out on paper is a better move if you are a more visual person like me and need reference material when it comes to building out your project visually. 

One thing I found out recently, and by recently I mean the other day and its kind of why I held off posting this article, is this MAGIC npm command –> npm install -g electron-windows-store   which is the magic NPM command for the UWP (Universal Windows Program) app!!  Using this app, with the standard electron setup libraries enables you to build a fully functional Universal Windows App, all with the power of the web.

Eventually I will write a walkthrough on using Electron but for now, the power is stupidly simple to create something truly great and its REALLY fun to build on. 

Main image courtesy of×422/941998_7ec6.jpg or for the course.

Sam Toohey Written by:

Sam is a self taught Developer, focusing on Web Technologies and E-Commerce. He is also an avid writer, blogger and gamer. You can commonly see Sam toying around with web technologies or working on his Podcast, Markup.

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