// Tutorial //

Getting Started with Angular and Electron

Published on June 14, 2018
Default avatar
By Tyler Roberts
Developer and author at DigitalOcean.
Getting Started with Angular and Electron

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Electron is a popular framework that makes it easy to build desktop apps for macOS, Linux, or Windows using familiar web technologies (HTML, JavaScript, and CSS). Some very popular desktop apps, such as Visual Studio Code and Slack, are built using Electron. Behind the scenes, Electron uses Chromium for UI rendering and Node.js for filesystem access. Since Electron gives us a desktop shell for web apps, we can use any kind of front-end JavaScript framework to develop desktop apps.

In this short guide, we’ll create a new Angular application that we can launch on our desktop using Electron.

Installation

Open up your terminal and install the latest version of the Angular CLI globally:

  1. npm i -g @angular/cli

Navigate to your work folder and let’s create our new Angular app, called my-app:

  1. ng new my-app
  2. cd my-app
  3. npm i -D electron@latest

The above annotated line will install the latest version of Electron as a dev dependency.

Setup and Electron Entry File

Let’s now create a main.js file in the root of our project’s directory. This file will be the entry point for our Electron app and will contain the main API for the desktop app:

main.js
const { app, BrowserWindow } = require("electron");
const path = require("path");
const url = require("url");

let win;
function createWindow() {
  win = new BrowserWindow({ width: 800, height: 600 });
  // load the dist folder from Angular
  win.loadURL(
    url.format({
      pathname: path.join(__dirname, "/dist/index.html"),
      protocol: "file:",
      slashes: true
    })
  );
  // The following is optional and will open the DevTools:
  // win.webContents.openDevTools()
  win.on("closed", () => {
    win = null;
  });
}
app.on("ready", createWindow);
// on macOS, closing the window doesn't quit the app
app.on("window-all-closed", () => {
  if (process.platform !== "darwin") {
    app.quit();
  }
});

Note that the above is based on the official electron-quick-start project, with the main difference being that it correctly loads the entry point of our Angular app. You may want to stick to TypeScript and, if so, you’ll find the equivalent TypeScript quick start here.

A note about Electron and TypeScript

Since you’ll be developing your Angular app using TypeScript, you can certainly choose to work with TypeScript for the main Electron entry file too (main.ts). Note though that the main key in the project’s package.json should still point to the same main.js.

Just add a tsc command for compiling it to JavaScript before launching the app. Something like this should do the trick:

"electron-tsc": "tsc main.ts && ng build --base-href ./ && electron ."

Next, update your project’s package.json file so that it can look for our Electron file as the main entry point.

package.json
{
  "name": "my-app",
  "version": "0.0.0",
  "main": "main.js", 
  ...

While we’re here, let’s add an npm script to build the Angular app and then launch the Electron app:

package.json

"scripts": {
   "electron": "ng build --base-href ./ && electron .",
   ...

The –base-href flag is important here to indicate to the Angular CLI that, in the index.html file, the base tag’s href attribute should have the value of ./.

Let’s remove the name from the output path of our Angular project, so that it reflects what we have in our main.js file:

angular.json
...,
"architect": {
  "build": {
    "builder": "@angular-devkit/build-angular:browser",
    "options": {
      "outputPath": "dist",

In case you’re using a version of Angular prior to v6, you’ll instead want to make the change in your project’s angular-cli.json under an outDir key.

Running the App

Your app is now ready! You can start the app using the electron npm script we’ve created:

  1. npm run electron

And you should see a window appear with your Angular application contained within!

This should be enough to get you up and running. Stay tuned for a deeper dive into using the Electron API directly from our Angular app, as well as setting up Hot Module Reloading!


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About the authors
Default avatar
Developer and author at DigitalOcean.

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