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Electron
Electron

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Electron vs Xamarin: 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, Xamarin is detailed as "Create iOS, Android and Mac apps in C#". Xamarin鈥檚 Mono-based products enable .NET developers to use their existing code, libraries and tools (including Visual Studio*), as well as skills in .NET and the C# programming language, to create mobile applications for the industry鈥檚 most widely-used mobile devices, including Android-based smartphones and tablets, iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

Electron belongs to "Cross-Platform Desktop Development" category of the tech stack, while Xamarin 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, Xamarin provides the following key features:

  • Cross-platform development- Thinking about supporting iOS, Android, Mac and Windows? Xamarin allows you to write it all in C#.
  • Reuse existing code- Use your favorite .NET libraries in Xamarin apps. Easily use third-party native libraries and frameworks.
  • Discover as you type- Explore APIs as you type with code autocompletion.

"Easy to make rich cross platform desktop applications" is the top reason why over 50 developers like Electron, while over 111 developers mention "Power of c# on mobile devices" as the leading cause for choosing Xamarin.

Electron is an open source tool with 74.4K GitHub stars and 9.72K GitHub forks. Here's a link to Electron's open source repository on GitHub.

Slack, WebbyLab, and triGo GmbH are some of the popular companies that use Electron, whereas Xamarin is used by Rdio, Olo, and Rumble. Electron has a broader approval, being mentioned in 213 company stacks & 366 developers stacks; compared to Xamarin, which is listed in 74 company stacks and 65 developer stacks.

- No public GitHub repository available -

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 Xamarin?

Xamarin鈥檚 Mono-based products enable .NET developers to use their existing code, libraries and tools (including Visual Studio*), as well as skills in .NET and the C# programming language, to create mobile applications for the industry鈥檚 most widely-used mobile devices, including Android-based smartphones and tablets, iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
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What are some alternatives to Electron and Xamarin?
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 Xamarin
StackShare Editors
StackShare Editors
Node.js
Node.js
React
React
Electron
Electron
ES6
ES6
MacGap
MacGap
Chromium
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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StackShare Editors
StackShare Editors
Node.js
Node.js
React
React
TypeScript
TypeScript
Electron
Electron
ES6
ES6
MacGap
MacGap
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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Greg Neumann
Greg Neumann
Indie, Solo, Developer | 6 upvotes 111.8K views
Xamarin
Xamarin
.NET Core
.NET Core
Xamarin Forms
Xamarin Forms
ASP.NET
ASP.NET
Quasar Framework
Quasar Framework
Electron
Electron
Vue.js
Vue.js
TypeScript
TypeScript

Finding the most effective dev stack for a solo developer. Over the past year, I've been looking at many tech stacks that would be 'best' for me, as a solo, indie, developer to deliver a desktop app (Windows & Mac) plus mobile - iOS mainly. Initially, Xamarin started to stand-out. Using .NET Core as the run-time, Xamarin as the native API provider and Xamarin Forms for the UI seemed to solve all issues. But, the cracks soon started to appear. Xamarin Forms is mobile only; the Windows incarnation is different. There is no Mac UI solution (you have to code it natively in Mac OS Storyboard. I was also worried how Xamarin Forms , if I was to use it, was going to cope, in future, with Apple's new SwiftUI and Google's new Fuchsia.

This plethora of techs for the UI-layer made me reach for the safer waters of using Web-techs for the UI. Lovely! Consistency everywhere (well, mostly). But that consistency evaporates when platform issues are addressed. There are so many web frameworks!

But, I made a simple decision. It's just me...I am clever, but there is no army of coders here. And I have big plans for a business app. How could just 1 developer go-on to deploy a decent app to Windows, iPhone, iPad & Mac OS? I remembered earlier days when I've used Microsoft's ASP.NET to scaffold - generate - loads of Code for a web-app that I needed for several charities that I worked with. What 'generators' exist that do a lot of the platform-specific rubbish, allow the necessary customisation of such platform integration and provide a decent UI?

I've placed my colours to the Quasar Framework mast. Oh dear, that means Electron desktop apps doesn't it? Well, Ive had enough of loads of Developers saying that "the menus won't look native" or "it uses too much RAM" and so on. I've been using non-native UI-wrapped apps for ages - the date picker in Outlook on iOS is way better than the native date-picker and I'd been using it for years without getting hot under the collar about it. Developers do get so hung-up on things that busy Users hardly notice; don't you think?. As to the RAM usage issue; that's a bit true. But Users only really notice when an app uses so much RAM that the machine starts to page-out. Electron contributes towards that horizon but does not cause it. My Users will be business-users after all. Somewhat decent machines.

Looking forward to all that lovely Vue.js around my TypeScript and all those really, really, b e a u t I f u l UI controls of Quasar Framework . Still not sure that 1 dev can deliver all that... but I'm up for trying...

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Interest over time
Reviews of Electron and Xamarin
Review ofXamarinXamarin

I'm working in Huge company and I'm in charge to choose the cross-platform environment to develop Mobile application for all our services. I choose Xamarin but because the error i get everytime in Visual Studio, I want to leave it and recommand another solution. In fact that's why I'm here.

Weird, Install VS2017 with Xamarin on a new PC Create a new app GOT ERRORS.....!!!!!

Thank you for considering this

How developers use Electron and Xamarin
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 Foundbite
Foundbite uses XamarinXamarin

Xamarin enables us to develop for 3 platforms (iOS, Android and Windows Phone) with one core codebase coded in C#. Xamarin has allowed us to release an app on all three platforms and develop them simultaneously - not bad for a team of 2!

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 Ana Phi Sancho
Ana Phi Sancho uses XamarinXamarin

Self taught : acquired knowledge or skill on one's own initiative. Platform: OSX 10.8 or later. Mac computer user.

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 Robert Brown
Robert Brown uses XamarinXamarin

Build & ship OS X & iOS apps from Visual Studio on Windows. Requires paid team license.

Avatar of Ralic Lo
Ralic Lo uses ElectronElectron

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

Avatar of Daniel Kovacs
Daniel Kovacs uses XamarinXamarin

Mobile app development with PCL and Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Android.

Avatar of Olo
Olo uses XamarinXamarin

Cross platform, white labelled native mobile apps

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