Last Updated: March 18, 2024
Electron Alternatives
Published On: December 19, 2023

Summary: Of course, the Electron framework has taken cross-platform desktop application development to the next level, but still it has several drawbacks – consuming higher resources is one of those. 

That’s the reason why developers always look for the best Electron alternatives that can help them create desktop apps even without facing the shortcomings of the Electron framework. Reading the post helps you find some of the prominent Electron alternatives.

The launch of the Electron framework transformed the cross-platform desktop app development with web technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and code reusability. It allows developers to build a user-friendly and flexible GUI. With the framework, it’s easy to create custom GUI controls using HTML and CSS. It also boasts a full-featured API for various native system operations. 

Though Electron redefined desktop app development, developers still looked for an Electron alternative. Do you know why? The major drawback with Electron apps is they consume high resources. It compels developers to find some lightweight framework for desktop app development. We have listed here some of the top Electron.js alternatives that are popular among developers.  

What is Electron? – An Overview

Being an open-source platform, Electron, developed by GitHub, is one of the emerging frameworks. It facilitates developers to build cross-platform desktop apps by leveraging various web technologies including HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. It includes the combination of Chromium and Node.js for rendering web pages and backend functionality respectively. 

The combination is useful for developers when it comes to creating a powerful app that can deliver a consistent user experience across multiple platforms be it Linux, Windows, macOS, or others.

Electron witnessed a huge adoption after its surging use in creating popular applications such as Visual Studio Code, Slack, Discord, and others. As a versatile and easy-to-use framework, it’s the best choice for those seeking to build an app with a wide array of features that can work seamlessly on various platforms.

Advantages of Electron Framework

Electron has restructured desktop application development by offering a myriad of compelling advantages. That’s the reason why it emerged as a top choice among developers. Let’s explore the top advantages of this framework in depth:

1. Single Codebase for Cross-Platform Development

Electron eases the complication of building apps for multiple operating systems by letting developers get the flexibility to leverage a single codebase written in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

They can build desktop apps that function flawlessly on different operating systems. Implementation of a single codebase streamlines the Electron Development process while eliminating the necessity of platform-specific code. 

2. Web Technologies Integration for Seamless Development

Electron leverages web technologies, which is its major strength. The integration of web technologies for seamless development allows a desktop app development company to use the full potential capabilities of web technologies, which results in dynamic and responsive user interfaces.

With the framework, the developers use a variety of web development libraries and tools that improve their development experience. 

3. Rapid Development with Code Reusability

The Electron framework brings an immense possibility of performing rapid development. With the framework, developers can find the possibility to reuse even existing web development code and libraries. 

The architecture of Electron makes it possible to share different modules and components between various web and desktop projects, which advocates for code reusability. It makes the app development cycle fast and also improves code maintainability since developers can implement various updates and improvements across multiple platforms.  

4. Extensive Library and Framework Support

Electron supports a range of frameworks and libraries and thus gives developers the liberty to choose top frameworks based on the project requirements and also their skills and proficiency. They can get the option to choose from Angular, React, and Vue.js. It allows developers to create apps with extended functionalities. Besides, it also prevents developers from creating everything from scratch. 

5. Active Community and Support Ecosystem

With a vast community and ecosystem, developers can get the advantage of accessing a variety of resources be it tutorials, forums, documentation, and more. It also allows them to share their knowledge, and stay updated with the current technologies, trends, troubleshooting issues, and many more.

10 Best Electron Alternatives

The Electron framework has several drawbacks as well, aside from several advantages. It prompts developers to explore some more alternatives of Electron that can make desktop application development more efficient and streamlined. Here’s a list of the top 10 best alternatives to Electron that developers can consider using.  

1. Qt for Python (PyQt/PySide)

Made up of a combination of PyQt and PySide, Qt is a robust application framework that offers a range of tools and libraries for creating native-like applications that perform outstandingly.

An application developed on this framework is perfect for resource-intensive tasks due to its higher performance. Qt for Python supports multiple operating systems such as Linux, macOS, and Windows.

So, an app developed with this framework can function on a range of operating systems. With Qt, developers can get the option for customizable UI components and thus can build applications with aesthetically appealing user interfaces. Those developers who are novices with Qt may face a learning curve due to having a wide range of feature sets. 

2. Tauri

If you are looking for a lightweight framework to build a desktop application, you can opt for Tauri. It’s a flexible framework that supports web technologies and emphasizes reducing both resource consumption and the size of applications. Applications developed on this framework are generally in small size, which makes them lightweight. 

Since Tauri supports Rust for backend development, it ensures a perfect balance of safety and performance. With the framework, developers get the customization opportunity for apps by getting complete control over the components that they use in development. It helps them optimize apps for a particular use case. Since Tauri is a new framework, it may lack the availability of resources and community support. 

3. Aurelia Electron

Aurelia Electron is a combination of the Aurelia framework with electrons. It’s a robust framework that enables developers to build high-grade cross-platform desktop apps. 

The major advantage of this framework is its modular architecture favors clean and maintainable code, which improves the overall development experience. It includes two-way data binding that simplifies UI development and ensures the user interface is synced with the underlying data.

Aurelia boasts an intuitive and simple syntax, which developers can easily access irrespective of their level of experience, skills, and expertise. Aurelia is popular for having an active community. Meanwhile, it’s not as large as some other framework that also impacts on 3rd party plugins and also the availability of resources. 

4. Proton Native

Proton Native is quite similar to a React-like framework to some extent when it comes to developing native desktop apps with the use of React and JavaScript. It emphasizes both performance and simplicity. Developers who have expertise in using React can leverage Proton Native hassle-free to develop native desktop apps.

Proton Native is particularly well-suited for lightweight app development endeavors, offering a compact footprint and cross-platform support. However, a significant drawback of Proton Native lies in its constrained array of UI components, requiring designers to invest additional effort in crafting designs when compared to several other frameworks.

5. React Native for Desktop

As an extension of the React Native framework, React Native for Desktop lets developers get the liberty of code reusability to develop cross-platform desktop apps.

It saves both time and effort while making the development process less complicated. With the framework, developers can access a wider ecosystem of React and React Native libraries to make the development process hassle-free.

Apart from this, the hot reloading feature of React Native improves both the development and testing phases. Developers need to perform platform-specific code for desktop-specific features, which also limits the code reusability.

6. JavaFX

As a feature-rich framework, JavaFX is another best Electron.js alternative to develop cross-platform desktop applications with the use of Java. Developers build apps on Java that can function with a JVM (Java Virtual Machine), which ensures platform independence. JavaFX provides a range of UI components to create a visually enticing interface.

With JavaFX, developers can access the extensive Java ecosystem and various libraries to develop backend and desktop applications. To use JavaFX, developers need to have an in-depth knowledge of Java. Applications developed on this platform are generally larger.  

7. Flutter

Flutter is a popular framework for cross-platform app development and also includes extended support for desktop apps. It enables developers to build apps for multiple operating systems such as macOS, Windows, and Linux. Flutter lets developers use a single codebase to develop desktop applications.

Boasting expressive UI abilities and a wide set of widgets, the framework facilitates the development of visually appealing interfaces. It includes the hot reload feature that improves the desktop app development and testing process. The major setback of Flutter is it’s not as mature as another framework in some use cases. Besides, Flutter apps consume lots of resources.  

8. Avalonia

Being an open-source framework, Avalonia is a highly popular cross-platform framework that uses the power of XAML for creating desktop apps that can run hassle-free on various platforms. Since Avalonia supports XAML, developers using this platform need to possess in-depth knowledge of XAML to utilize the potential advantages of this platform.

Avalonia is the right framework for building high-performing desktop applications that can be suitable for a variety of apps. Meanwhile, the framework is not so extensive when compared to some other frameworks, though it has an active community. 

9. WinUI

Being a native UI framework for Windows 10 apps, Windows UI Library (WinUI) is part of the Windows App SDK. Developers can use it to create advanced and native Windows apps. Developers create apps using WinUI to provide a fully native Windows appearance and feel, which ensures a seamless user experience.

The framework can be integrated easily with Windows 10 features and APIs, which allows developers to access the latest capabilities to develop high-quality desktop apps. As far as the drawback of this platform is concerned, it includes limitations in the cross-platform capabilities. The reason is the framework is designed mainly for Windows apps.

10. Eel

It is a Python library for developing Electron-like desktop apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript even without the necessity for Node.js. As a lightweight Electron alternative, the framework enables developers to use Python for both backend and frontend development. It simplifies the entire process of creating desktop apps with the combination of web technologies with Python. 

Developers can use this framework to create lightweight desktop apps and also have a small footprint. Eel, meanwhile, is not capable of offering the same extensive features as other frameworks including Electron.

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Challenges of Using Electron.js for Cross-Platform Development

As we already mentioned, Electron.js has gained popularity as a top cross-platform development framework for its ability to develop desktop apps that can function flawlessly on multiple operating systems. Developers, meanwhile, face a myriad of challenges when it comes to using this framework. Let’s find out some of these challenges:

1. Resource Intensiveness and Performance Challenges

Electron.js is resource intensive since it packages the entire web browser with an application, which causes more usage of resources. It can be more resource-intensive while offering a consistent user experience. 

And this is the reason why this framework is not perfect for lightweight apps. Its dependency on Chromium yields a memory-intensive process, which affects the overall performance of the system. 

2. Large Application File Size

Larger application file size is another major challenge that developers experience while working with Electron. The framework packages apps with a full web run time, which causes larger file sizes, especially when compared to native apps. Larger file sizes cause longer downloading times and also increase storage requirements, mainly for simple apps that could be more lightweight. 

3. Memory Consumption Issues

Applications developed on the Electron framework often consume a higher amount of memory, which hurts the efficiency and responsiveness of the system. It’s tough to find out and address memory leaks as the process is quite stringent, which causes deteriorated performance with time. 

4. Limited Access to Low-Level System APIs

With Electron, developers face challenges when it comes to accessing low-level system APIs, which cause limitations in directly accessing several functionalities. They, on the other hand, also experience huge challenges when they integrate several platform-specific features or when performance optimization needs direct system-level interactions.  

5. Potential Security Concerns

Potential security concerns arise due to the use of bundled web browsers. So, developers need to address the potential security vulnerabilities that they need to manage and update actively. An electron-based application needs to be updated timely to mitigate web-related security issues.  

Which Electron Alternative is Best to Use?

While selecting the best Electron alternative one needs to keep in mind various factors like developer’s expertise, language familiarity, project requirements, ecosystem support, and more. You can go for various options like React Native, Flutter, Qt, NW.js, and others. So, while deciding the right framework among these, you need to focus on your priority as well. 

You need to make the right choice depending on whether you seek cross-platform functionality, sleek UI, web computability, or native performance. Flutter is the right choice when you prioritize sleep UI, React Native fosters cross-platform desktop app development, Qt. is a better option for native performance, and Node Webkit is good for web computability. 

FAQs

Electron is popular for many reasons such as high versatility, rapid app development, the lowest barrier to entry, cross-platform support, easy installers, automatic updates, and a vast community of both users and developers.

Whether you should use Electron in 2024 or not depends solely on the demand of your projects. If you are handling a project that demands seamless cross-platform compatibility, you can go for no other framework than Electron. Meanwhile, for platform-specific optimization or resource-intensive apps, you can go for other options.

Yes, Electron is based on Chromium. It uses the Chromium engine to ensure seamless integration with web technologies and enable developers to create desktop apps that can share a common base with the Chrome browser.

No, Electron.js is not lightweight. It leverages Node.js and Chromium for the development of cross-platform desktop apps, which have a larger memory footprint, especially when compared to native applications. Though it’s a heavy-weight framework, its robust features make it a perfect choice among developers.
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Jayanti Katariya

Jayanti Katariya is the CEO of Moon Technolabs, a fast-growing IT solutions provider, with 18+ years of experience in the industry. Passionate about developing creative apps from a young age, he pursued an engineering degree to further this interest. Under his leadership, Moon Technolabs has helped numerous brands establish their online presence and he has also launched an invoicing software that assists businesses to streamline their financial operations.

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