Can you build a website?
Then you can build a desktop app.

Electron for Web Developers Guide Cover

If you know how to build a webpage then you have all the skills you need to build a desktop application for OSX, Windows, or Linux using Electron. This guide helps bridge the gap between your skills and getting an Electron project up and running, and out into the world.

What’s covered?

There’s a lot that’s great about Electron, including the ability to develop without worrying about cross browser compatibility or missing features. The potential time sink is at the beginning and end of your project, when dealing with the nitty gritty of Electron to get things working smoothly for all your users. This guide specifically dives into:

  • Setting up Electron in both OSX and Windows
  • Building your first Electron application
  • Creating native installers for both OSX and Windows
  • Obtaining developer certificates for OSX and Windows, and why you’d want one
  • Implementing auto-updates to keep your apps up to date with your latest release, automatically
  • Resources to speed up your development

The biggest snag in my project came at the beginning and the end. The majority of development time was spent figuring out how to get things set up initially, and publishing a cross platform application.

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As a quick start guide you’re taken through the essential details of Electron to get started. Beginning with how Electron is structured, you see how the environment is built to use web languages to build desktop applications. From there you learn about the caveats of using Electron for your project to get a better sense of when it is the right tool for the job.

Next you’ll dive into your first application, learning how building an Electron application compares to building a website. Finally, you’ll learn the necessary steps to deploy your application, including: creating an installer, setting up and rolling out updates, how to handle crashes, certifying your application for both Windows and OSX, and how/where to sell your application.

After going through the guide you will be equipped with the necessary knowledge to start building your own application. Though the guide covers quite a bit, you may find your own application requires digging deeper into specific areas. For that reason there are additional resources provided for those looking to take their application to the next level.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. What is Electron?
  3. Caveats
  4. Hello World
  5. Application Structure
  6. Building an Application
  7. Packaging Your Application
  8. Updating Your Application
  9. Crash Reporting
  10. Software Certificates
  11. Selling Your Application
  12. Additional Resources

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the guide based on?
The guide is based on my experience building WP Express, which was initially released as a freemium product with the ability to pay to unlock additional features. My experience with building the application, and preparing it for sale, seemed like areas other guides and tutorials didn't quite cover. So this guide is the content I would have liked to have during my project.
How deeply is Electron covered?
The guide covers the development flow of getting a project set up, installers/executables generated, and certificates purchased/applied with additional details on application updates, crash reporting, and sales. I’ve tried to avoid just replicating documentation or materials that can be found elsewhere. We do build an application together in the guide as well, to see how the pieces fit together with your web development skills.

Every project will be unique, and the goal of this guide was to cover those topics that apply to all Electron applications. However, references are provided throughout the guide, and within the “Additional Resources” section, on where to look for deeper information if your project requires it.
I have another question!
Sure! Hit me up on Twitter @ractoon

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