29 Jan 2014, 09:30

HTML5 Desktop apps

Back in May 2013 was published : HTML5 apps on the desktop in 2013. In the article, the author review the existing solutions which allows to build apps on the desktop that will use HTML/CSS/JS. It reviewed the existing solutions and quickly evaluated them.

8 months later :

  • Sencha product is discontinued, App.JS is dead, TideSDK seems also to be almost dead
  • Node-webkit seems still ongoing ; which seems to mix Node.JS and Chromium (and not webkit). It should provide a good mix
  • Bracket-shell on which is based the Brackets IDE built with HTML/JS/CSS  by Adobe ; not sure on how it can be used on a wider extend (out of Adobe's context). Maybe there are good things to get from it ?
  • Windows 8 will allow HTML/CSS/JS apps as native apps but it may be too specific to W8 ?
  • Ubuntu seems to have a Runtime based on Cordova/PhoneGap to build native apps ; As for W8 above, if it's too tied with Ubuntu, it may not be worth and also Cordova/PhoneGap is still mobile focused.

So at this point, node-webkit seems to most agnostic and universal solution for desktop oriented apps.

I was quite surprised that Chrome Apps or Firefox Apps were not mentionned at this point. Indeed for me, it's the first solution that came to my mind when I think about it : these browsers are cross platform (mobile, tablet, PC, TVs), render HTML/JS/CSS for ages. Firefox had a previous experiences about app outside the browser with XULRunner. Adobe AIR could have been mentionned too ; there was a rise of Air Apps some years ago, seems the enthusiasm vanished in the meantime ?

Beyond node-webkit, two trends to build native apps on the desktop : extending the browser to the desktop or extending the mobile to the desktop, with some common actors on both sides.

And you, how do you see natives apps built in HTML/CSS/JS coming on the desktop ? Does it make sense for you by the way ?