mamiu mamiu - 1 month ago 13
Javascript Question

What are the pros and cons of Chrome Apps compared to Electron?

I want to program a desktop app in javascript (with web technologies) and looked for a comparison between Electron and Chrome Apps.

Everything I need seems to be possible with Chrome Apps, but there's a big hype around Electron/NW.js. What are the advantages of Electron? Is it due to the large amount of Node packages?

I think the functional differences are clear to me.

Pros and cons like:

+ Chrome Apps can run on Chrome OS
- Chrome Apps needs an installed Chrome Browser
...


UPDATE 2016-08-20:



As Eduardo pointed out, Google announced that they'll discontinue Chrome Apps for all platforms expect ChromeOS. So I think the answer to this question is obvious now.

For all of you who developed a Chrome App and are interested in migrating it to the web here's a guide from Google: https://developers.chrome.com/apps/migration

Or, as Google also mentioned, you migrate it to Electron or NW.js.

Answer

You can totally compare electron and chrome packaged Apps. They are very similar. For both of them you get:

  • Develop your Desktop App using Web Technologies
  • App runs on top of Chrome
  • Automatic updates. Though in Chrome you get it for free, for Electron you need to do some work.
  • OS Integration - Both have better integrations with the OS than a normal website, but Electron supports a wider range of OS integration.
  • Work offline or online.
  • Both work on Linux, OSX and Windows. Chrome Web Apps also work on Chromebooks.

Here are the differences:

  • Electron uses node.js. So you can import many modules not easily available in Chrome Apps.
  • Distribution, with electron you package and distribute the app yourself. With Chrome Apps you distribute them through Chrome Webstore.
  • Environment. An Electron App is packaged with its full environment. Chrome Apps just use Chrome environment so they are lighter, but may behave differently for different users depending on the Chrome version they use.
  • Chrome Apps require the user to have Chrome installed, Electron doesn't.
  • Electron has better developer tools for testing and debugging.
  • Electron is an open source platform. Chrome Apps is also built on top of multiple open technologies but specially distribution is controlled by Google.
  • Electron documentation is much better even though it's a much younger platform.
  • Adoption: There are quite a lot of big and successful apps built on top of Electron such as Visual Studio Code, GitHub client, Slack. Chrome Apps just never picked up as much momentum.
  • Chrome Apps can be tightly integrated into Google Drive

UPDATE 2016-08-19:

It seems Google recently deprecated Chrome Apps on any platform other than ChromeOS. So I'd say it's no longer a valid option.

http://blog.chromium.org/2016/08/from-chrome-apps-to-web.html