How to develop Desktop Apps using HTML/CSS/JavaScript? [closed]

How to develop Desktop Apps using HTML/CSS/JavaScript? [closed]

First, I’m not interested in doing this professionally. I am a web developer, a coworker of mine recently left for Spotify and said he will be working mostly in JavaScript for the Spotify Desktop app. He said it uses “Chrome frame” and everything inside is done like a web app (HTML/JS/CSS).
As a web developer who never built anything for Desktop, this is great news. If I can use the technologies I already know and implement them inside some sort of a “frame” and still be able to build a windows or better yet cross platform app.
I know I didn’t mention anything about the database, but even a simple hello world desktop app with web technologies would be great to get going.
So how does one go about this? Exactly what do I need/need to know?

Solutions/Answers:

Solution 1:

You may start with Titanium for desktop dev. Also you may have a look at Chromium Embedded Framework. It’s basically a web browser control based on chromium.

It’s written in C++ so you can do all the low level OS stuff you want(Growl, tray icons, local file access, com ports, etc) in your container app, and then all the application logic and gui in html/javascript. It allows you to intercept any http request to either serve local resources or perform some custom action. For example, a request to http://localapp.com/SetTrayIconState?state=active could be intercepted by the container and then call the C++ function to update the tray icon.

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It also allows you to create functions that can be called directly from JavaScript.

It’s very difficult to debug JavaScript directly in CEF. There’s no support for anything like Firebug.

You may also try AppJS.com (Helps to build Desktop Applications. for Linux, Windows and Mac using HTML, CSS and JavaScript)

Also, as pointed out by @Clint, the team at brackets.io (Adobe) created an awesome shell using Chromium Embedded Framework that makes it much easier to get started. It is called the brackets shell: github.com/adobe/brackets-shell Find out more about it here: clintberry.com/2013/html5-desktop-apps-with-brackets-shell

Solution 2:

NW.js

(Previously known as node-webkit)

I would suggest NW.js if you are familiar with Node or experienced with JavaScript.

NW.js is an app runtime based on Chromium and node.js.

Features

  • Apps written in modern HTML5, CSS3, JS and WebGL
  • Complete support for Node.js APIs and all its third party modules.
  • Good performance: Node and WebKit run in the same thread: Function calls are made straightforward; objects are in the same heap and can just reference each other
  • Easy to package and distribute apps
  • Available on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows

You can find the NW.js repo here, and a good introduction to NW.js here. If you fancy learning Node.js I would recommend this SO post with a lot of good links.

Solution 3:

Awesomium makes it easy to use HTML UI in your C++ or .NET app

Update

My previous answer is now outdated. These days you would be crazy not to look into using Electron for this. Many popular desktop apps have been developed on top of it.

Solution 4:

NOTE: AppJS is deprecated and not recommended anymore.

Take a look at NW.js instead.

Solution 5:

It seems the solutions for HTML/JS/CSS desktop apps are in no short supply.

One solution I have just come across is TideSDK: http://www.tidesdk.org/, which seems very promising, looking at the documentation.

You can develop with Python, PHP or Ruby, and package it for Mac, Windows or Linux.

Solution 6:

Sorry to burst your bubble but Spotify desktop client is just a Webkit-based browser. Of course it exposes specific additional functionality, but it’s only able to run JS and render HTML/CSS because it has a JS engine as well as a Chromium rendering engine. This does not help you with coding a client-side web-app and deploying to multiple platforms.

What you’re looking for is similar to Sencha Touch – a framework that allows for HTML5 apps to be natively deployed to iOS, Android and Blackberry devices. It basically acts as an intermediary between certain API calls and device-specific functionality available.

I have no experience with appcelerator, bit it appears to be doing exactly that – and get very favourable reviews online. You should give it a go (unless you wanted to go back to 1999 and roll with MS HTA 😉