Electron newsletter issue 1, February
Electron Newsletter
Issue 1 – 04 February 2019view web version


Welcome to the first Electron newsletter! Each month I'll share the latest news and articles and highlight cool new tools, projects and applications built with Electron. Each month, I'll also interview someone from the Electron community.
For this first newsletter, I'll give you a short introduction on who I am. Don't worry, next month won't have this huge intro ;)
I'm Kilian Valkhof, a web developer from The Netherlands. For the past 15 years I've been developing tools and applications for developers as side projects.
One of the earlier ones was an image compression GUI I wrote in Python and Qt, and together with Adobe Air (remember that?) it was my first foray into cross-platform application development.
From there I experimented with GTK and Node-webkit (now NW.js) and eventually ended up playing around with atom-shell, which would later become Electron. I've since developed 5+ applications on Electron, amongst which are Polypane and FromScratch.rocks, given talks about Electron and I'm a member of the Electron maintainers group.
At the beginning of this year I started a new company specialised in developing tools for developers and helping companies create first versions. This has also allowed me to spend more time on other things I love, this newsletter being one of them.
I hope this newsletter is useful to you. If you have any suggestions or cool links you want to share, please reply to this email or hit me up via Twitter.
Thanks, Kilian
BrowserView window.open() Vulnerability Fix
This was just reported yesterday, but Electron found a code vulnerability that allows users to re-enable Node when you've disabled it explicitly. Electron 2 to 5 have been updated.
Electron 5.0.0 timeline
Starting from 5.0, Electron is planning to release a new major version roughly every quarter, and stick much closer to the latest Chromium and Node releases, in 5.0 those will be 72 and 12, respectively.
Why we have chosen Electron
This article about Testmace, an API testing application, discusses Qt, GTK and Electron, and explains why even with the requirements they had, Electron was the best choice
Covalence conference videos
The Covalence conference, a one-day conference on Electron (the first!) that was hosted on January 16th, has put the videos of all the talks online. Check them out!
Not a tool in of itself, but awesome-electron is a huge list of boilerplates, tools, libraries, articles and videos. In this newsletter I want to highlight new(ish) items, but it's worthwile to look through awesome-electron every now and then.
I'll try to keep the self-serving links to a minimum, but I recently wrote a library that helps you implement a cross-platform application menu. It gives you a good default menu for each platform, lets you filter menu-items based on platform and has support for i18n.
Revery is a library that lets you make cross-platform desktop apps. Sound familiar? The difference with Electron is that it's built in ReasonML and compiles to native code, kind of like React-native. It seems pretty early days so docs and features are limited, but it's cool to see a 'competitor' like this.
Update.rocks is an auto-updater service for Electron. It's free for open-source projects, similar to update.electron.js, but if you have a private/closed source application, it saves you from setting up and hosting an updater server like Nuts or Hazel. If you've been holding off on getting auto-updating in your apps, have a look. They wrote a great article to help you get started.
Use this npm package to lint your Electron app for common security issues. You can lint your compiled electron application or your ASAR file and get a report on any vulnerabilities you should look at.
AsarUI — The asar file contains all your own app logic. With AsarUI you can easily inspect the files in there. Useful to figure out if you're not adding a ton of node_modules files that you're not actually using!
Electron-fiddle — If you want to quickly set up an Electron app then this is the application for you. Select the version you want, tweak the provided main and renderer file and you have an electron app up and running.
Interview with Jessica Lord
Jessica started the Electron team while at Github, created the Electron-api-demos app, wrote Essential Electron and created Git it, an Electron app that teaches you how to use Git and Github.
How did you get involved with Electron?
I was working at GitHub and had moved onto the Atom team. I'd been a web developer and not thought about what it took to build a native desktop application before. So when I started to learn the Atom code base and what actually enabled Atom to do what it did with web technology, I got really excited about what was then atom-shell. I felt like it was the game-changer for developers but we had no plans for it, it was just a dependency of Atom. I started to work on roadmaps and push that we put resources into it and eventually I got the go-ahead to spend my full time on Electron and that's how the team got started.
What do you enjoy most about working with Electron?
For me, the best part was that I had enough autonomy to focus on the things I thought were very important but were often at the end of lists for teams. I focused on making documentation great, building tools to teach people Electron and build a community around it. Getting to do that kind of community engineering and developer tools work was great.
And what would you like to work better/improve?
Making the accessibility of Electron apps better.
What are things that Electron developers can do themselves to improve their app's accessibility?
The first thing to do is to consider the accessibility issues you should consider with a website too. The issue you'll have for a website in Chrome are the issues you'll have in Electron. Also, don't forget there is a Devtools extension, Spectron, that has Google accessibility auditing built-in.
What's a fun fact about you?
My background is in architecture and urban design which I think actually contributes a lot to my skills as a developer! I always think about how people are going to experience and understand something.
What is your favorite Vermeer?
My favorite Vermeer is Woman Holding a Balance. It's one of just ~36 Vermeer paintings and is in the National Gallery in Washington DC. I love the colors and composition but also all of the meaning you can find with a woman balancing life. Here's a short video on it from Khan Academy. I made a goal to visit all of the paintings and hometown of Vermeer and made a site for it, backed by spreadsheet data of course (I love spreadsheets)!
That's it for the first edition of the Electron newsletter! Thanks to all of you for subscribing and a special thanks to Jessica Lord for being my first interviewee. See you next month and as a last ask: Did you like this newsletter? please let me know by replying.


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