Electron Is Actually Really Good

April 01, 2020

A long time ago I was pretty dumb, and I said some pretty biased and extreme stuff against GitHub's Electron framework. This article is a rebuttle for stuff I said in the past because I gave it some thought and changed my mind about most of it.

In short, Electron is actually a really awesome framework and I shouldn't have been mean about it!


"Electron uses a lot of memory!"

No, absolutely not.

Sure, maybe an elementary program using Electron uses nearly 100 Megabytes of memory on average, but let's be real, when's the last time I had to use a device that had less than 100MB of memory? I don't think they make memory modules that small anymore! All my machines have 8 Gigabytes at least, which means I can run lots of Electron apps at the same time! Computers are always getting faster, and this allows us to use more resources!

Allow me to visualize my point with an image:

A graph showing that Electron *only* uses half the RAM your computer has, leaving room for maybe a whole other Electron program!

It's a ridiculous argument to say Electron uses too much memory in this day and age. Back in the day, people joked that EMACS stood for "Eight Megabytes And Constantly Swapping". Do you still believe Emacs is a memory hog?


"Electron Apps Aren't Unified with the OS!"

Seriously? this is what you call an argument?

Oh, boo hoo for you! Electron apps aren't written in GTK, but you know what? My Electron App's CSS UI is scalable, and colorful, and it looks just how I want my program to look. I think it's way better that my program has a sense of uniqueness among all your "it looks the same" GTK or Qt programs! Seriously, let us have a sense of style now and then. It's not hurting anyone!

Don't even talk to me with that "I want to be as absolutely boring as possible" attitude! I mean, really.


"Electron Apps are Glorified Webapps!"

What the heck does this even mean? This doesn't make any sense!

Wrong again, young me. Electron Apps have access to your Operating System's API's and system calls. Electron interfaces with your native environment in a way webapps never could! You can not only use Electron as a means for users to download your webapp, but you can use the interface it provides to give users invaluable complex abstractions!

And to add to all this, there's nothing wrong with Webapps to begin with! The Web is a beautiful, powerful thing, and being able to have all the power the W3C gives us and take it to our offline machines is a blessing!


"Electron is for Lazy Prototyping"

Define "lazy" for me, because you probably fit the definition for not educating yourself on the beauties of Electron!

Electron is not for prototyping at all. Electron should be used for the finished product that is going to be delivered to the customer as soon as possible. Electron allows you to ship your project to every major operating system available! No, BSD is not a "major operating system". If you run something as obscure as BSD, just download Windows already! Windows is clean, and sane, and supported!

No, really, if you use anything besides Windows, you should probably just download Windows. I have never had more than a few problems a day on Windows, so I believe it is pretty much the best thing you can have on a computer.


"Electron is Not Actually for Linux"

Yes it is, actually!

Oh, are you talking about the fact that Electron only works on x86_64 hardware? Wow, you must be really old if you think that's an argument! Nothing isn't x86_64 anymore! Some hardware like Raspberry Pi or the EOMA68 or older x86 computers won't support your Electron program, but let's be real, that's 5, maybe 6 people that won't have access to your program. Everyone else has moved on to x86_64 hardware! When I was a kid and I outgrew my shoes, I bought new shoes. I think the computing industry needs to outgrow older architectures!

Buy new shoes, and by that I mean buy a $1,000 computer, because you need to every half-decade if you want to keep up with the software you want to use. Definitely not just because computer companies need to keep their profits high (which is also a good reason to buy a new PC!).


A Conclusion

There's a lot of stigma around being an Electron developer in this day and age. They will say you're not a "real" programmer just because you work on a much higher level than they do, because they write in bytecode (well, C, which is pretty much just bytecode) and think it's the best thing ever. It's like if people told you that you weren't a good carpenter because you didn't go to the woods and chop down your own trees, but you instead went to IKEA to buy a table. You still need to build the table, so you should still be considered just as much a carpenter as them!

If you have any comments, be sure to send me a Gmail!

I'm finally making the switch from the old, outdated eMacs program to the new and cool Atom editor (built on Electron)! I finally feel like I know how to use computers properly. That's it for this article. Have a great April 1st. ;-)