Writing a desktop app in JavaScript?

Axel Rauschmayer axel at rauschma.de
Sun Jul 3 09:27:50 PDT 2011


I hope the following question is not too out of place on this mailing list:

JavaScript would really profit from a simple environment for writing desktop applications, especially for tasks that you would normally use shell scripts for. I like that such an environment would make it incredibly easy to add a cross-platform GUI.

Can anyone recommend a good environment for writing desktop apps in JavaScript and HTML5?

Requirements:
- Read/write access to the local file system.
- Download any file from the web (even from servers that don’t support CORS).
- Ease of development: no extra build step before you can run your app.
- Use HTML5 for the GUI.

So far, I’ve looked at:
1. Adobe Air: needs the AIR runtime.
2. Google Chrome: comes pretty close: you can get read access to all files in a folder that you “upload” via a form; you can switch off cross-site restrictions via a flag; you can use the FileSystem API to write files and copy them back, out of the sandbox later. There are extensions, but those require a build step which makes it painful to develop them.
3. XULRunner: seems to require XUL.
4. Firefox Add-On: not geared towards desktop apps.
5. Node.js + GUI in a browser via a localhost URL: Cannot be packaged nicely, having to chose a port is problematic (usability, clashes).
6. Titanium Desktop: ready yet?

(1) and (5) look like the most practical solutions that are currently available.

Any other suggestions or experiences with the above solutions?

-- 
Dr. Axel Rauschmayer

axel at rauschma.de
twitter.com/rauschma

home: rauschma.de
blog: 2ality.com





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