2023-10-05
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#electron
Alain Perkaz
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Oct 5, 2023 ⋅ 11 min read

Advanced Electron.js architecture

Alain Perkaz A passionate and disciplined software engineer.

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7 Replies to "Advanced Electron.js architecture"

  1. Hello, great article and very insightful!

    I’ve worked on a project which categorized as medium-complexity app, and I agree that while it may gets powerful on term of features, it would be more complex as more features come.

    I have a question about the proposed architecture though. Where will the backend be hosted? Is it on the cloud? Or is it on another electron application, some kind of requirement to install before I can use the frontend? Or is it still in the same electron app? I’m not quite sure with what you mean by “…will run on another Node.js process…”

    Thanks again for the article, love it!

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Bagas!

      In the proposed architecture, the backend runs (and is hosted) within the electron app. The backend process is forked from the electron main process, but is doesn’t have to be installed separately, the fork happens when the app starts. By node.js process I meant: https://nodejs.org/api/process.html

      The separation between frontend and backend is only on the developer side. When the app is build and the executable generated, all the code is bundled together. Separating the frontend / backend into modules brings a better developer experience (regular web development tools can be applied), and enables to evolve each module independently (as they are loosely-coupled).

  2. hwo do you establish the node_ipc channel between render process and child node process? do you message thru the main process?

    1. The `node_ipc` channel enables bidirectional communication between the `UI` (renderer process) and the `backend` (render process in development, forked nodejs process in production), through a socket.

      The main process initialises `node_ipc` to an available socket, and passes the socket reference to the `UI` and `backend`.

      The `UI` receives the socket by an electron ipc message. The `backend` receives it differently depending on how it is instantiated. When instantiated as a render process (in development), it will receive it by an electron ipc message (same as the UI), and when instantiated as a forked process (in production), the socket will be passed as a parameter.

  3. Thanks Alain, I really enjoyed the read! I’m teaching myself how to use electron and am interested in the security aspect of your architecture. I understand electron developers must be careful how they expose app capability to the internet (i.e. set nodeIntegration and contextIsolation appropriately so attacker cant execute native code on users machine). do you have any rules of thumb you follow when deciding to enable/disable nodeIntegration for your browserwindows?

    1. Thanks for reaching out, Felix!

      Regarding security, the possible surface of attack will differ greatly if you load remote scripts or local ones. In my examples, I assumed that the FE + BE scripts would be shipped with the app and not from a 3rd party server.

      There is really good read about security on https://www.electronjs.org/docs/latest/tutorial/security/, which goes to a greater detail any comment could go 🙂

      Cheers!

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