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Electron vs React Native: What are the differences?

What is Electron? 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.

What is React Native? A framework for building native apps with React. 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.

Electron belongs to "Cross-Platform Desktop Development" category of the tech stack, while React Native can be primarily classified under "Cross-Platform Mobile Development".

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, React Native provides the following key features:

  • Native iOS Components
  • Asynchronous Execution
  • Touch Handling

"Easy to make rich cross platform desktop applications" is the top reason why over 50 developers like Electron, while over 170 developers mention "Learn once write everywhere" as the leading cause for choosing React Native.

Electron and React Native are both open source tools. React Native with 78.3K GitHub stars and 17.5K forks on GitHub appears to be more popular than Electron with 74.4K GitHub stars and 9.72K GitHub forks.

Yahoo!, hike, and Webedia are some of the popular companies that use React Native, whereas Electron is used by Slack, WebbyLab, and triGo GmbH. React Native has a broader approval, being mentioned in 701 company stacks & 781 developers stacks; compared to Electron, which is listed in 213 company stacks and 366 developer stacks.

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 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.
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What are some alternatives to Electron and React Native?
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.
Element
Element is a Vue 2.0 based component library for developers, designers and product managers, with a set of design resources.
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.
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.
See all alternatives
Decisions about Electron and React Native
StackShare Editors
StackShare Editors
Chromium
Chromium
MacGap
MacGap
ES6
ES6
Electron
Electron
React
React
Node.js
Node.js

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.

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StackShare Editors
StackShare Editors
Chromium
Chromium
MacGap
MacGap
ES6
ES6
Electron
Electron
TypeScript
TypeScript
React
React
Node.js
Node.js

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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Sezgi Uluçam
Sezgi Uluçam
Sr. Software Engineer at StackShare · | 6 upvotes · 46.1K views
Flutter
Flutter
React Native
React Native
PhoneGap
PhoneGap
Apache Cordova
Apache Cordova
#NativeApps
#MobileFrameworks
#JavaScript

For a front end dev like me, using a mobile framework for side projects makes more sense than writing a native app. I had used Apache Cordova (formerly PhoneGap) before (because React Native didn't exist yet), and was happy with it. But once React Native came out, it made more sense to go that way instead. It's more efficient and smooth, since it doesn't have the simulation overhead, and has more access to hardware features. It feels cleaner since you don't need to deal with #WebView, using native UI widgets directly. I also considered Flutter . It looks promising, but is relatively new to the game, and React Native seems more stable for now.

MobileFrameworks #JavaScript NativeApps

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Sezgi Uluçam
Sezgi Uluçam
Sr. Software Engineer at StackShare · | 6 upvotes · 51.6K views
Android SDK
Android SDK
Android Studio
Android Studio
React Native
React Native
Xcode
Xcode
Expo
Expo

I've recently switched to using Expo for initializing and developing my React Native apps. Compared to React Native CLI, it's so much easier to get set up and going. Setting up and maintaining Android Studio, Android SDK, and virtual devices used to be such a headache. Thanks to Expo, I can now test my apps directly on my Android phone, just by installing the Expo app. I still use Xcode Simulator for iOS testing, since I don't have an iPhone, but that's easy anyway. The big win for me with Expo is ease of Android testing.

The Expo SDK also provides convenient features like Facebook login, MapView, push notifications, and many others. https://docs.expo.io/versions/v31.0.0/sdk/

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Apache Cordova
Apache Cordova
redux-saga
redux-saga
React Native
React Native
AngularJS
AngularJS
Redux
Redux
React
React
#JavascriptMvcFrameworks

We had contemplated a long time which #JavascriptMvcFrameworks to use, React and React Native vs AngularJS and Apache Cordova in both web and mobile. Eventually we chose react over angular since it was quicker to learn, less code for simple apps and quicker integration of third party javascript modules. for the full MVC we added Redux.js for state management and redux-saga for async calls and logic. since we also have mobile app along with the web, we can shere logic and model between web and mobile.

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Vishal Narkhede
Vishal Narkhede
Javascript Developer at getStream.io · | 19 upvotes · 67.3K views
atStreamStream
Babel
Babel
styled-components
styled-components
Expo
Expo
JavaScript
JavaScript
Chat by Stream
Chat by Stream
React Native
React Native
Stream
Stream

Recently, the team at Stream published a React Native SDK for our new Chat by Stream product. React Native brings the power of JavaScript to the world of mobile development, making it easy to develop apps for multiple platforms. We decided to publish two different endpoints for the SDK – Expo and React Native (non-expo), to avoid the hurdle and setup of using the Expo library in React Native only projects on the consumer side.

The capability of style customization is one a large deal breaker for frontend SDKs. To solve this, we decided to use styled-components in our SDK, which makes it easy to add support for themes on top of our existing components. This practice reduces the maintenance effort for stylings of custom components and keeps the overall codebase clean.

For module bundling, we decided to go with Rollup.js instead of Webpack due to its simplicity and performance in the area of library/module providers. We are using Babel for transpiling code, enabling our team to use JavaScript's next-generation features. Additionally, we are using the React Styleguidist component documentation, which makes documenting the React Native code a breeze.

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Gustavo Muñoz
Gustavo Muñoz
Web UI Developer at Globant · | 6 upvotes · 21.7K views
JavaScript
JavaScript
Visual Studio Code
Visual Studio Code
Android Studio
Android Studio
Dart
Dart
React Native
React Native
React
React
Flutter
Flutter
#Flare

In my modest opinion, Flutter is the future of mobile development. The framework is as important to mobile as React is to the web. And seeing that React Native does not finish taking off, I am focusing all my efforts on learning Flutter and Dart. The ecosystem is amazing. The community is crazy about Flutter. There are enough resources to learn and enjoy the framework, and the tools developed to work with it are amazing. Android Studio or Visual Studio Code has incredible plugins and Dart is a pretty straight forward and easy-to-learn language, even more, if you came from JavaScript. I admit it. I'm in love with Flutter. When you are not a designer, having a framework focused on design an pretty things is a must. And counting with tools like #flare for animations makes everything easier. It is so amazing that I wish I had a big mobile project right now at work just to use Flutter.

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Vaibhav Taunk
Vaibhav Taunk
Team Lead at Technovert · | 17 upvotes · 15.9K views
Visual Studio Code
Visual Studio Code
Markdown
Markdown
Postman
Postman
React Native
React Native
Flutter
Flutter
MongoDB
MongoDB
React
React
Angular CLI
Angular CLI
.NET Core
.NET Core

I am starting to become a full-stack developer, by choosing and learning .NET Core for API Development, Angular CLI / React for UI Development, MongoDB for database, as it a NoSQL DB and Flutter / React Native for Mobile App Development. Using Postman, Markdown and Visual Studio Code for development.

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Interest over time
Reviews of Electron and React Native
Avatar of tonyxiao
Economics
Review ofReact NativeReact Native

Native iOS developer here. One of the most important thing React Native managed to accomplish is that it created a better single-platform development experience than the platform owner themselves did. It's faster and easier to develop a react native app than it is to develop an iOS app. And remember that react native is at the end of the day still native. So native views, native components, native modules. You get to pick and choose how much you want to be in JavaScript and how much you want to be in native.

How developers use Electron and React Native
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 Kurzor, s.r.o.
Kurzor, s.r.o. uses React NativeReact Native

React Native is great in that it reduces the overhead of writing native code based on a web app. If written in a good style, Redux part of the app can often just be copied or shared in the Native app - and it just works! What a timesaver.

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 Ryan VanBelkum
Ryan VanBelkum uses React NativeReact Native

The framework used to write the mobile apps in this project. I've chosen this because of the "write once run all" (ios and android) mentality.

Avatar of AmericanBibleSociety
AmericanBibleSociety uses React NativeReact Native

We are not currently using this product but we have very high interest in learning and using this for mobile apps.

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 JINJA Ltd.
JINJA Ltd. uses React NativeReact Native

New features of our app are developed on React Native, so we could maintain a small dev team.

Avatar of Tana
Tana uses React NativeReact Native

100% of our mobile codebase is shared between iOS and Android. Using along with TypeScript.

Avatar of Ralic Lo
Ralic Lo uses ElectronElectron

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

How much does Electron cost?
How much does React Native cost?
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