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Electron vs Xamarin: What are the differences?


In this article, we will compare Electron and Xamarin, two popular frameworks for developing cross-platform applications. Both frameworks allow developers to build applications that can run on multiple operating systems, but there are some key differences between them. Let's take a closer look at these differences.

  1. Operating System compatibility: Electron is primarily designed for building desktop applications that run on Windows, macOS, and Linux. It leverages web technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to create native-like applications. On the other hand, Xamarin is focused on mobile application development and supports multiple platforms including iOS, Android, and Windows. It allows developers to write code in C# and share a significant portion of the codebase across different platforms.

  2. Performance: Electron applications are generally known to have higher memory consumption and slower startup times compared to native applications. This is because Electron runs a separate instance of the Chromium browser engine for each application, resulting in higher resource usage. Xamarin applications, on the other hand, are compiled into native code, which offers better performance compared to Electron.

  3. Development Environment: Electron applications can be built using standard web development tools like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. This makes it easier for web developers to transition into Electron development. Xamarin, on the other hand, requires the use of Visual Studio IDE and knowledge of C# programming language, which may require some learning for developers who are not familiar with C#.

  4. User Interface: Electron uses web technologies to create user interfaces, which provides a high level of flexibility but may not offer a native-like experience. Xamarin, on the other hand, allows developers to create native user interfaces using platform-specific UI components, resulting in applications that look and feel like native applications on each platform.

  5. Ecosystem and Community: Electron has a large and active community that provides a wide range of third-party libraries and tools. This makes it easier to find resources and get support when working on Electron projects. Xamarin also has a strong community and ecosystem, with a range of libraries and tools available, but it may not be as extensive as the Electron ecosystem.

  6. Deployment and Distribution: Electron applications are typically packaged as standalone executables that can be installed on the target operating system. This makes it easier to distribute and install Electron applications. Xamarin applications, on the other hand, require separate compilation and packaging for each target platform, which can make the deployment process more complex.

In summary, Electron is primarily focused on desktop application development and leverages web technologies, while Xamarin is focused on mobile application development and uses C# for coding. Electron offers cross-platform compatibility with higher resource usage and slower performance, while Xamarin provides a more native-like experience with better performance. Both frameworks have active communities and ecosystems, but Electron has a wider range of resources available. Deployment and distribution processes also differ between the two frameworks.

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Pros of Electron
Pros of Xamarin
  • 69
    Easy to make rich cross platform desktop applications
  • 53
    Open source
  • 14
    Great looking apps such as Slack and Visual Studio Code
  • 8
    Because it's cross platform
  • 4
    Use Node.js in the Main Process
  • 121
    Power of c# on mobile devices
  • 81
    Native performance
  • 79
    Native apps with native ui controls
  • 73
    No javascript - truely compiled code
  • 67
    Sharing more than 90% of code over all platforms
  • 45
    Ability to leverage visual studio
  • 44
    Mvvm pattern
  • 44
    Many great c# libraries
  • 36
    Amazing support
  • 34
    Powerful platform for .net developers
  • 19
    GUI Native look and Feel
  • 16
    Nuget package manager
  • 12
  • 9
    Backed by Microsoft
  • 9
    Enables code reuse on server
  • 8
    Faster Development
  • 7
    Use of third-party .NET libraries
  • 7
    It's free since Apr 2016
  • 7
    Best performance than other cross-platform
  • 7
    Easy Debug and Trace
  • 7
    Open Source
  • 6
    Mac IDE (Xamarin Studio)
  • 6
    Xamarin.forms is the best, it's amazing
  • 5
    That just work for every scenario
  • 5
    C# mult paradigm language
  • 5
    Power of C#, no javascript, visual studio
  • 4
    Great docs
  • 4
    Compatible to develop Hybrid apps
  • 4
    Microsoft stack
  • 4
    Microsoft backed
  • 3
    Well Designed
  • 3
    Small learning curve for Mobile developers
  • 2
  • 2
    Ability to leverage legacy C and C++

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Cons of Electron
Cons of Xamarin
  • 18
    Uses a lot of memory
  • 8
    User experience never as good as a native app
  • 4
    No proper documentation
  • 4
    Does not native
  • 1
    Each app needs to install a new chromium + nodejs
  • 1
    Wrong reference for dom inspection
  • 9
    Build times
  • 5
    Visual Studio
  • 4
  • 3
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
    Build Tools
  • 2
  • 0
  • 0

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What is Electron?

With Electron, creating a desktop application for your company or idea is easy. Initially developed for GitHub's Atom editor, Electron has since been used to create applications by companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Slack, and Docker. The Electron framework lets you write cross-platform desktop applications using JavaScript, HTML and CSS. It is based on io.js and Chromium and is used in the Atom editor.

What is Xamarin?

Xamarin’s Mono-based products enable .NET developers to use their existing code, libraries and tools (including Visual Studio*), as well as skills in .NET and the C# programming language, to create mobile applications for the industry’s most widely-used mobile devices, including Android-based smartphones and tablets, iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

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What companies use Electron?
What companies use Xamarin?
See which teams inside your own company are using Electron or Xamarin.
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What are some alternatives to Electron and Xamarin?
The fastest way to build beautiful Electron apps using simple HTML and CSS. Underneath it all is Electron. Originally built for GitHub's Atom text editor, Electron is the easiest way to build cross-platform desktop applications.
React Native Desktop
Build OS X desktop apps using React Native.
React Native
React Native enables you to build world-class application experiences on native platforms using a consistent developer experience based on JavaScript and React. The focus of React Native is on developer efficiency across all the platforms you care about - learn once, write anywhere. Facebook uses React Native in multiple production apps and will continue investing in React Native.
Lots of people use React as the V in MVC. Since React makes no assumptions about the rest of your technology stack, it's easy to try it out on a small feature in an existing project.
It is a set of graphics and media packages that enables developers to design, create, test, debug, and deploy rich client applications that operate consistently across diverse platforms.
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