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Electron vs Nativefier: What are the differences?


In this Markdown code, we will present the key differences between Electron and Nativefier. Both Electron and Nativefier are popular tools used for building desktop applications using web technologies. However, there are several distinct differences between the two.

  1. Framework Integration: Electron is a framework that allows you to build cross-platform desktop applications using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. It provides a full-featured development environment that includes a bundled Chromium browser, Node.js runtime, and other necessary components. On the other hand, Nativefier is a command-line tool that creates a native wrapper for web applications without the full-fledged development environment. It uses Electron under the hood to generate platform-specific builds.

  2. User Interface: Electron applications can have a fully customizable user interface as they are built using web technologies. You have complete control over the appearance and behavior of the application. Nativefier, on the other hand, creates a native wrapper around the web application, which means the user interface is determined by the web application itself. You cannot customize the user interface beyond what is provided by the web application.

  3. Development Workflow: Electron provides a comprehensive development workflow with built-in tooling and extensive documentation. It offers features like hot reloading, debugging, and packaging tools to streamline the development process. Nativefier, being a command-line tool, has a simpler development workflow. You just need to specify the URL of the web application and run the command to generate the native wrapper.

  4. Application Size: Electron applications tend to have a larger file size compared to Nativefier applications. This is because Electron includes a bundled Chromium browser and Node.js runtime in the binary, which adds to the overall size of the application. Nativefier applications, on the other hand, only include the necessary files to create a native wrapper around the web application, resulting in a smaller file size.

  5. Distribution and Updates: Electron applications can be distributed and updated like any other desktop application. You can create installation packages for different platforms and use automatic update mechanisms to deliver updates to users. Nativefier applications, however, are distributed as standalone executables and do not have built-in update mechanisms. If you want to update the application, you need to generate a new build and distribute it manually.

  6. Platform Support: Electron supports multiple platforms including Windows, macOS, and Linux. It provides APIs to access platform-specific features and functionalities. Nativefier, being built on top of Electron, inherits the platform support of Electron. However, Nativefier is primarily focused on creating native wrappers for web applications, which means it may not support all platform-specific features provided by Electron.

In summary, Electron and Nativefier differ in terms of framework integration, user interface customization, development workflow, application size, distribution and updates, as well as platform support.

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Pros of Electron
Pros of Nativefier
  • 69
    Easy to make rich cross platform desktop applications
  • 53
    Open source
  • 14
    Great looking apps such as Slack and Visual Studio Code
  • 8
    Because it's cross platform
  • 4
    Use Node.js in the Main Process
  • 2
    Has a better Javascript support, and is much faster

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Cons of Electron
Cons of Nativefier
  • 18
    Uses a lot of memory
  • 8
    User experience never as good as a native app
  • 4
    No proper documentation
  • 4
    Does not native
  • 1
    Each app needs to install a new chromium + nodejs
  • 1
    Wrong reference for dom inspection
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    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 Nativefier?

    Nativefier is a command line tool that allows you to easily create a desktop application for any web site with succinct and minimal configuration. Apps are wrapped by Electron in an OS executable (.app, .exe, etc.) for use on Windows, OSX and Linux.

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    What companies use Electron?
    What companies use Nativefier?
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    What tools integrate with Electron?
    What tools integrate with Nativefier?
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