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Electron
Electron

2.5K
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MacGap

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3
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Electron vs MacGap: What are the differences?

Developers describe Electron as "Build cross platform desktop apps with web technologies. Formerly known as Atom Shell, made by GitHub". With Electron, creating a desktop application for your company or idea is easy. Initially developed for GitHub's Atom editor, Electron has since been used to create applications by companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Slack, and Docker. The Electron framework lets you write cross-platform desktop applications using JavaScript, HTML and CSS. It is based on io.js and Chromium and is used in the Atom editor. On the other hand, MacGap is detailed as "Desktop WebKit wrapper for HTML/CSS/JS applications". MacGap provides HTML/JS/CSS developers an Xcode project for developing native OS X App. These Apps run in OS X's WebView and take advantage of WebKit technologies. MacGap exposes a JavaScript API for OS X integration, such as displaying native notifications or writing data to a file. MacGap is extremely lightweight and nimble; a blank application weighs less than 1MB.

Electron and MacGap can be primarily classified as "Cross-Platform Desktop Development" tools.

Some of the features offered by Electron are:

  • Use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript with Chromium and Node.js to build your app.
  • Electron is open source
  • maintained by GitHub and an active community.

On the other hand, MacGap provides the following key features:

  • open-source
  • tiny compiled app sizes
  • Mac App Store compatible

"Easy to make rich cross platform desktop applications" is the top reason why over 50 developers like Electron, while over 2 developers mention "Remember that Mac app you always wanted to create... ?" as the leading cause for choosing MacGap.

Electron and MacGap are both open source tools. It seems that Electron with 74.9K GitHub stars and 9.8K forks on GitHub has more adoption than MacGap with 3.59K GitHub stars and 226 GitHub forks.

What is Electron?

With Electron, creating a desktop application for your company or idea is easy. Initially developed for GitHub's Atom editor, Electron has since been used to create applications by companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Slack, and Docker. The Electron framework lets you write cross-platform desktop applications using JavaScript, HTML and CSS. It is based on io.js and Chromium and is used in the Atom editor.

What is MacGap?

MacGap provides HTML/JS/CSS developers an Xcode project for developing native OS X App. These Apps run in OS X's WebView and take advantage of WebKit technologies. MacGap exposes a JavaScript API for OS X integration, such as displaying native notifications or writing data to a file. MacGap is extremely lightweight and nimble; a blank application weighs less than 1MB.
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      What are some alternatives to Electron and MacGap?
      Photon
      The fastest way to build beautiful Electron apps using simple HTML and CSS. Underneath it all is Electron. Originally built for GitHub's Atom text editor, Electron is the easiest way to build cross-platform desktop applications.
      React Native Desktop
      Build OS X desktop apps using React Native.
      React Native
      React Native enables you to build world-class application experiences on native platforms using a consistent developer experience based on JavaScript and React. The focus of React Native is on developer efficiency across all the platforms you care about - learn once, write anywhere. Facebook uses React Native in multiple production apps and will continue investing in React Native.
      JavaFX
      It is a set of graphics and media packages that enables developers to design, create, test, debug, and deploy rich client applications that operate consistently across diverse platforms.
      Element
      Element is a Vue 2.0 based component library for developers, designers and product managers, with a set of design resources.
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      Decisions about Electron and MacGap
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      Chromium

      The Slack desktop app was originally written us the MacGap framework, which used Apple鈥檚 WebView to host web content inside of a native app frame. As this approach continued to present product limitations, Slack decided to migrate the desktop app to Electron. Electron is a platform that combines the rendering engine from Chromium and the Node.js runtime and module system. The desktop app is written as a modern ES6 + async/await React application.

      For the desktop app, Slack takes a hybrid approach, wherein some of the assets ship as part of the app, but most of their assets and code are loaded remotely.

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      Chromium
      Chromium

      Slack's new desktop application was launched for macOS. It was built using Electron for a faster, frameless look with a host of background improvements for a superior Slack experience. Instead of adopting a complete-in-box approach taken by other apps, Slack prefers a hybrid approach where some of the assets are loaded as part of the app, while others are made available remotely. Slack's original desktop app was written using the MacGap v1 framework using WebView to host web content within the native app frame. But it was difficult to upgrade with new features only available to Apple's WKWebView and moving to this view called for a total application rewrite.

      Electron brings together Chromium's rendering engine with the Node.js runtime and module system. The new desktop app is now based on an ES6 + async/await React application is currently being moved gradually to TypeScript. Electron functions on Chromium's multi-process model, with each Slack team signed into a separate process and memory space. It also helps prevent remote content to directly access desktop features using a feature called WebView Element which creates a fresh Chromium renderer process and assigns rendering of content for its hosting renderer. Additional security can be ensured by preventing Node.js modules from leaking into the API surface and watching out for APIs with file paths. Communication between processes on Electron is carried out via electron-remote, a pared-down, zippy version of Electron's remote module, which makes implementing the web apps UI much easier.

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      How developers use Electron and MacGap
      Avatar of Chris Saylor
      Chris Saylor uses ElectronElectron

      Our application began as an HTML5 browser game, however we decided to leverage certain native parts of desktop applications by wrapping our client code into Electron. This also allowed us to not have to worry about compatibility across all the various browsers.

      Avatar of HyVive
      HyVive uses ElectronElectron

      Our Web Applications are served on our Desktops by Electron. This allows us to have native apps running on our Workstations without having too many Browser Tabs open at the same time.

      Avatar of PawByte
      PawByte uses ElectronElectron

      Electron is the current preferred method to convert games made in the Game Pencil Editor for desktop support.

      Avatar of Metrix Financial Reporting Solutions UG
      Metrix Financial Reporting Solutions UG uses ElectronElectron

      Implement a web-service using your favorite tools but sell a desktop application for oblivious windows users.

      Avatar of Ralic Lo
      Ralic Lo uses ElectronElectron

      Used Electron to package single page web application as a desktop application.

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