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The desktop belongs to Electron
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-05-16 23:09:04

This doesn’t have to be forever. Maybe in the future, developers will start using React Native to build desktop applications. Or perhaps Flutter! Electron apps have a bad reputation for using too much RAM, have potential security issues, can’t (yet) match the speed of C++, and they often lack the polish and familiarity of a great native app.

But it seems clear to me that OS-specific SDKs are becoming a liability for desktop OS vendors. Developers want to use the technologies they know, and they want maximum reach for the products they build. And they’re smart enough to get what they want. A lack of cooperation on the part of Apple, Google, and Microsoft will only hurt users.

Say hello to your new Electron overlord.

At 33, I'm perhaps staring to show signs of becoming an old man, but I really don't like Electron applications. I use Discord every day, and it just feels slow, cumbersome, and out of place on my virtually 100% Modern/Fluent Design Windows desktop, Surface, and my iPhone X. I greatly prefer proper, platform-specific native applications, but I feel that ship may have sailed with things like Electron and Progressive Web Apps.

I'm not looking forward to this future.

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I feel the same way
By cosmotic on 2018-05-16 23:34:06
I feel the same way about electron apps; bloated, feature anemic, poorly integrated, cumbersome... But I feel like all those words also describe "modern" apps on windows. I try to give MS the benefit of the doubt, but every time I try one of the modern apps I'm disappointed.
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Comment by gorbie
By gorbie on 2018-05-16 23:36:11
when you see what can get achieved in something like MenuetOS and some amazing coding skills - web apps make me sad.

another favorite site of mine is tinyapps.org which generally showcases some amazing little apps, generally standalone.

I feel like everything today is going over-engineered or over-simplified.

I came across a self checkout the other day that seems to have adopted a flattened design. It made me rather angry that I did not find it intuitive to use at all. Not a single word or label on any button. AM I too smart to use an interface they have designed for the lowest common denominator?

Or, like everything else lately, have they all abandoned user-centered design? Have designers been given divine intervention? Did Moses come down from the mountain with some UX tablets? did I miss that memo?
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This is the reason computers feel slow
By sukru on 2018-05-16 23:52:37
We have much better and faster processors, however applications seem to feel sluggish compared to older times. I remember even Windows 95 feeling more responsive.

I understand that due to hi-dpi displays and multi-monitor setups it is now necessary to use desktop composition. Some other things like security, better unicode support, etc come with costs. I accept them.

However I still believe we can at least continue writing native desktop applications and not push HTML based clunky ones. I like my web sites inside my browser, but I don't want them to take over my PC.
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By kwan_e on 2018-05-17 00:32:28
> can’t (yet) match the speed of C++

Yet? How about never?

It's a physical impossibility that a thing that runs in a VM would ever match something that runs without a VM.
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RE: Yet
By AnyoneEB on 2018-05-17 02:48:10
JavaScript and other similar non-native languages are not intrinsically slower than C/C++. They are much harder to write good optimizers for and much easier to write slow code in, but it's not an insurmountable problem. JavaScript compilers have gotten a lot better than they used to be and continue to improve. In practice, browser JavaScript implementations tend to avoid over-optimizing on run time because from the perspective of the user of a web browser, the compile time is part of the run time. This is less of an issue for an Electron app which could theoretically do compilation work at packaging and/or installation time.

As an example, https://stackoverflow.com/a/45282... lists a few areas where Java (not JavaScript, but similar at a high level) out-performs C/C++ due to the advantages of JIT compilation and garbage collection. In practice, of course, these advantages are edge cases and/or are overwhelmed by other factors which make it slower.

To be clear, I'm not predicting JavaScript run time performance parity with C++ any time soon. But it's a research and engineering challenge, not a physical impossibility.
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Comment by coherence
By coherence on 2018-05-17 03:10:34
A huge number of applications are built in managed languages now. This is the same old complaint when Java and C# came out. I use lots of IntelliJ products and they are all built in Java, they work fine.

Anecdotally, I use VS Code, Discord, Slack all day. I have no idea what you are on about it "feeling slow". I run VSCode on several low end machines now i.e. a E6410 laptop (old core i5) to a Core 2 Duo from 2008. However in all my systems I have fast SSD disks and as much ram as I can stuff in them.

I also use Discord on my iPhone 6S. Works fine, no faster or slower than any other application on my iPhone. I have no idea how Thom's iPhone X would be slower with discord.

The only applications that are a lot faster than VSCode are Notepad++ (which only has about 20% of the features of VSCode).

Considering that both Discord and Slack are better than Skype which are native, really shows that it really doesn't matter.

Anyway, all electron is really doing is fulfilling Atwood's law:

> I propose a corollary to this rule, which in the spirit of recent memes, I'll call Atwood's Law: any application that can be written in JavaScript, will eventually be written in JavaScript.


Edited 2018-05-17 03:28 UTC
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Electron is garbage
By Darkmage on 2018-05-17 03:22:12
I get random hangs all the time in slack. It's just absolute garbage. Having said that GTK is no rose either. Unable to even auto connect signal handlers in C++. I think every desktop environment is stuffed at the moment. They are all flawed in one way or another. No big surprise to see there's no relief coming any time soon.
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RE[2]: Yet
By kwan_e on 2018-05-17 03:43:47
> To be clear, I'm not predicting JavaScript run time performance parity with C++ any time soon. But it's a research and engineering challenge, not a physical impossibility.

It is a physical impossibility because doing something extra is always slower than not doing something extra. As for JIT, native code (I'm not just limiting it to C++) is not at odds with JIT. If Java (and other VM languages) can use JIT, then so can/does native code. But the stackoverflow link doesn't really show anything, since it's comparing Java to Java-like native code, and not sensibly native code.

The issue, though, is not just speed. It's also memory usage and power consumption. No VM language can approach native code in all three areas of speed, memory usage and power consumption.
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By Soulbender on 2018-05-17 04:38:56
I like some Electron apps (Atom, vscode, slack) but this article is just clueless in the extreme.
But such is the way of this industry. Every X months something comes around that a bunch of morons thinks solves everyone's problem and that should be used for every possible solution. (See Blockchain, NoSQL, RubyOnRails, XML etc etc)

It's "use the right tool for the job", not "shoehorn the tool I like into being a half-assed, at best, tool for the job".

Edited 2018-05-17 04:46 UTC
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not old
By ksec on 2018-05-17 04:45:19
at 33 these signs are being wise.
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