Electron vs Meteor: What are the differences?
Electron can be classified as a tool in the "Cross-Platform Desktop Development" category, while Meteor is grouped under "Frameworks (Full Stack)".
Some of the features offered by Electron are:
- Electron is open source
- maintained by GitHub and an active community.
On the other hand, Meteor provides the following key features:
- Live page updates
- Clean, powerful data synchronization
"Easy to make rich cross platform desktop applications" is the primary reason why developers consider Electron over the competitors, whereas "Real-time" was stated as the key factor in picking Meteor.
Electron and Meteor are both open source tools. Electron with 74.4K GitHub stars and 9.72K forks on GitHub appears to be more popular than Meteor with 41.1K GitHub stars and 5.03K GitHub forks.
Slack, WebbyLab, and triGo GmbH are some of the popular companies that use Electron, whereas Meteor is used by Meteor, Glympse, and Enfluence.io. Electron has a broader approval, being mentioned in 213 company stacks & 366 developers stacks; compared to Meteor, which is listed in 195 company stacks and 152 developer stacks.
What is Electron?
What is Meteor?
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The Slack desktop app was originally written us the MacGap framework, which used Apple’s 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.
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.
Mixmax was originally built using Meteor as a single monolithic app. As more users began to onboard, we started noticing scaling issues, and so we broke out our first microservice: our Compose service, for writing emails and Sequences, was born as a Node.js service. Soon after that, we broke out all recipient searching and storage functionality to another Node.js microservice, our Contacts service. This practice of breaking out microservices in order to help our system more appropriately scale, by being more explicit about each microservice’s responsibilities, continued as we broke out numerous more microservices.
As Mixmax began to scale super quickly, with more and more customers joining the platform, we started to see that the Meteor app was still having a lot of trouble scaling due to how it tried to provide its reactivity layer. To be honest, this led to a brutal summer of playing Galaxy container whack-a-mole as containers would saturate their CPU and become unresponsive. I’ll never forget hacking away at building a new microservice to relieve the load on the system so that we’d stop getting paged every 30-40 minutes. Luckily, we’ve never had to do that again! After stabilizing the system, we had to build out two more microservices to provide the necessary reactivity and authentication layers as we rebuilt our Meteor app from the ground up in Node.js. This also had the added benefit of being able to deploy the entire application in the same AWS VPCs. Thankfully, AWS had also released their ALB product so that we didn’t have to build and maintain our own websocket layer in Amazon EC2. All of our microservices, except for one special Go one, are now in Node with an nginx frontend on each instance, all behind AWS Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) or ALBs running in AWS Elastic Beanstalk.
I discovered Meteor thanks to my daughter who used it for a project at MIT. I was amazed at how much she had built in such a short time. I had also been trying to figure out how to build a browser-based crypto app so I jumped into Meteor and had an MVP for cloak.ly in a few short months starting from nothing. Learning Meteor really alters what you perceive as easy and difficult in full-stack development. It has an amazing ability to simplify your thinking and your code. Community support in terms of packages is outstanding as well which saves tremendous time. The quality of the software is outstanding with very few regressions cropping up during their frequent releases.
Being at the bleeding edge of the js community does have its downsides however. While early Meteor (with Blaze/handlebars templates) was exceedingly simple, Meteor have had to introduce support for both angular and react. In combination with the move to ECMAscript this has resulted in a lot of work for developers to just keep up with the evolution of the platform. Someone who was an expert 6 months ago might quickly find themselves being a newb again. If you're someone who doesn't like change you may want to stick to jQuery.
Living in the bay area I have the luxury of being able to attend Meteor events frequently. Having met many members of the MDG team, I have tremendous confidence in the future of the platform. This is a very solid group with a rare combination of broad vision and excellent execution.
Meteor is my favorite framework. It makes everything fun. Syncing data across devices is really easy and you don't have to mess around with sockets at all. You can insert data into the database on the client. There's tons of security options. There's over 3000 packages on the packaging system. Instant iOS and Android apps. Amazing, reactive routing. Free hosting. Easy deployment with Meteor Up. What's not to like?
Meteor is so powerful and flexible. I love it. In the near future, it will be the top-used framework.
We have gone "all in" on Meteor and I recommend you do to.
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.
Without Meteor cloak.ly could not have been built as quickly by such a small team. Meteor was instrumental to getting an MVP up quickly and dealing with the complexities of browser-based encryption.
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.
Built on Node.js, Meteor's real time reactivity and its wide package ecosystem allows us to quickly prototype and build apps in a lean way
Electron is the current preferred method to convert games made in the Game Pencil Editor for desktop support.
Implement a web-service using your favorite tools but sell a desktop application for oblivious windows users.
Used Electron to package single page web application as a desktop application.