The most basic example (“Hello World!”) to convert an HTML5 web app to desktop (binary) app [W10, MacOS, Linux]


I. In this tutorial I will use in the first part(Part 1) Electron Framework
II. And in the second part(Part 2)  I will use the NW.js (Node.js Library) for this –

Note: Also in the third way is to use Cordova to build a Windows 10 desktop app – [used also for building iOS & Android Apps & Windows Phone 10 Apps]. this will Not discussed here …. .

The result will be almost the same a Desktop compiled Binary App for each platform.

A MAIN DISADVANTAGE is that “The downside of the Electron approach is that each app comes with a copy of two large software frameworks, Node.js and Chromium. The latter is technically a web browser engine, but as the web platform has expanded, the humble browser has turned into a sprawling software layer large enough to be an operating system of its own.”  …

So a hello world app – minimal size – may be 115MB-200MB the same as one big app … ( source code minimal app be 2KB and source code for big app be 10MB – but the software frameworks make them the same relatively). Developers already have started to look for solutions as the link just above shows one … electrino…



General Steps

We proceed step by step how to:
Convert “hello world”(index.html local web page file), or or other remote page, into a desktop binary app, in other words to a chromium independent window (without top bar controls like address bar or back & fwd buttons.

We start by installing Node.js if is Not yet installed in the computer… follow

Also if you are in Windows 10 install Git Bash CLI [if Not yet installed] by installing Git from

For Linux / Mac, as for Git Bash CLI windows you can use the Terminal CLI app.


(Part 1) Electron Framework

Make a folder structure as Documents/desktop-apps/electron – open File Explorer and right click …/…/electron and choose Git Bash Here and confirm Node.js installed by [npm comes with Node.js]

LSE@PC7 MINGW64 /t/articles/desktop-apps/electron

$ node -v


LSE@PC7 MINGW64 /t/articles/desktop-apps/electron

$ npm -v


LSE@PC7 MINGW64 /t/articles/desktop-apps/electron



Generate a binary App using Electron from Hello World! Web App

Generally, an Electron app is structured like this (at minimum):  // more structure in Source Code

├── package.json
├── main.js
└── index.html
 "name": "your-app",
 "version": "0.0.1",
 "main": "main.js",
 "scripts": {
 "start": "electron .",
 "dist": "build"
 "author": "LSE",
 "build": {
 "appId": "com.example.helloworld"
 "devDependencies": {
 "electron": "~1.7.8",
 "electron-builder": "^17.1.2"
<!DOCTYPE html>
    <meta charset="UTF-8">
    <title>Hello World!</title>
    <h1>Hello World!</h1>
    We are using node <script>document.write(process.versions.node)</script>,
    Chrome <script>document.write(</script>,
    and Electron <script>document.write(process.versions.electron)</script>. 
 <img src="img/mickey-mouse-icon.png">

const {app, BrowserWindow} = require('electron');
const path = require('path');
const url = require('url');

// Keep a global reference of the window object, if you don't, the window will
// be closed automatically when the JavaScript object is garbage collected.
let win;

function createWindow () {
  // Create the browser window.
  win = new BrowserWindow({
                           width: 1000, 
                           height: 700,
                           frame: true,   // put false for get a chromium windows completely frame-less
                           icon: path.join(__dirname, "img/favicon.ico")

  // and load the index.html of the app.
    pathname: path.join(__dirname, 'index.html'),
    protocol: 'file:',
    slashes: true
 // Or use this and comment above for load url
 // win.loadURL("");
  // Open the DevTools.

  // Emitted when the window is closed.
  win.on('closed', () => {
    // Dereference the window object, usually you would store windows
    // in an array if your app supports multi windows, this is the time
    // when you should delete the corresponding element.
    win = null;

// This method will be called when Electron has finished
// initialization and is ready to create browser windows.
// Some APIs can only be used after this event occurs.
app.on('ready', createWindow);

// Quit when all windows are closed.
app.on('window-all-closed', () => {
  // On macOS it is common for applications and their menu bar
  // to stay active until the user quits explicitly with Cmd + Q
  if (process.platform !== 'darwin') {

app.on('activate', () => {
  // On macOS it's common to re-create a window in the app when the
  // dock icon is clicked and there are no other windows open.
  if (win === null) {

// In this file you can include the rest of your app's specific main process
// code. You can also put them in separate files and require them here.
end of electron code

LSE@PC7 MINGW64 /t/articles/desktop-apps/electron/your-app
$ ls
index.html main.js package.json
LSE@PC7 MINGW64 /t/articles/desktop-apps/electron/your-app
$ npm install   # type only this and press enter to install dependencies
> electron@1.7.10 postinstall T:\articles\desktop-apps\electron\your-app\node_modules\electron
> node install.js
LSE@PC7 MINGW64 /t/articles/desktop-apps/electron/your-app
$ npm start   # type only this and press enter to run app - in this stage a desktop app appear in your screen with Hello World!
> your-app@0.0.1 start T:\articles\desktop-apps\electron\your-app
> electron .

Close app by press Ctrl + C in the CLI Terminal or by press "X" on the right upper corner of the app.

LSE@PC7 MINGW64 /t/articles/desktop-apps/electron/your-app
$ npm run dist
> your-app@0.0.1 dist T:\articles\desktop-apps\electron\your-app
> build
Warning: description is missed in the package.json (T:\articles\desktop-apps\electron\your-app\package.json)
No native production dependencies
Packaging for win32 x64 using electron 1.7.10 to dist\win-unpacked
Warning: Application icon is not set, default Electron icon will be used
Building NSIS installer
 Packaging NSIS installer for arch x64
LSE@PC7 MINGW64 /t/articles/desktop-apps/electron/your-app

// here in this stage we get : 
T:\articles\desktop-apps\electron\your-app\dist\win-unpacked   // Run-able Windows app
T:\articles\desktop-apps\electron\your-app\dist\               // Install-able Windows app


source code here Electron    //  <<<  you can find with Node.js the screenshot’s[the PC running App on system info] info here OS Node.js API <<<

Part 2 – NW.js Library

Get binary App using NW.js from web app

Step 1. Create package.json:

 "name": "helloworld",
 "main": "index.html",
 "version": "1.0.1",
 "description": "",
 "scripts": {

 "start": "nw .",
 "test": "echo 'Error: no test specified' && exit 1",
 "package": "nwb nwbuild -v 0.27.3-sdk ./ -o ./dist --output-format=ZIP",
 "package:run": "nwb nwbuild -v 0.27.3-sdk ./ -o ./dist -p linux64,win32,osx64 -r -- --enable-transparent-visuals --disable-gpu"

 "devDependencies": {
 "nw": "^0.27.3-sdk",
 "nwjs-builder": "^1.14.0"


// initialize your app
// and ...'index.html', {}, function(win) {});


Step 2. Create index.html:

<!DOCTYPE html>
    <title>Hello World!</title>
    <h1>Hello World!</h1>


Step 3. Run your app

LSE@PC7 MINGW64 /t/articles/desktop-apps/nwjs/app-nwjs
npm install// NOTES – if you do Not know latest versions in these lines:

 "devDependencies": {
 "nw": "^0.27.3-sdk",
 "nwjs-builder": "^1.14.0"

// you do Not include them and proceed as follows

$ npm view nw dist-tags

{ latest: ‘0.27.3’,
alphasdk: ‘0.13.0-alpha4sdk’,
alpha5sdk: ‘0.13.0-alpha5sdk’,
alpha6sdk: ‘0.13.0-alpha6sdk’,
alpha7sdk: ‘0.13.0-alpha7sdk’,
sdk: ‘0.27.3-sdk‘ }

LSE@PC7 MINGW64 /t/articles/desktop-apps/nwjs/app-nwjs
$ npm install nw@0.27.3-sdk –save-dev

// Till here you can run app by running:

LSE@PC7 MINGW64 /t/articles/desktop-apps/nwjs/app-nwjs
$ npm start

To build app you run/install the(by default – latest version):
LSE@PC7 MINGW64 /t/articles/desktop-apps/nwjs/app-nwjs
$ npm i -D nwjs-builder

// equivalent to: npm install nwjs-builder –save-dev

LSE@PC7 MINGW64 /t/articles/desktop-apps/nwjs/app-nwjs
$ npm run package

> helloworld@1.0.1 package T:\articles\desktop-apps\nwjs\app-nwjs
> nwb nwbuild -v 0.27.3-sdk ./ -o ./dist –output-format=ZIP

{ version: ‘v0.27.3’,
flavor: ‘sdk’,
targets: [ [ ‘win32’, ‘x64’ ] ],
path: ‘./’ }

0: Read package.json
1: Prepare build directory at dist\helloworld-win-x64
2: Copy binary from C:\Users\User\.nwjs-builder\caches\binary-nwjs-sdk-v0.27.3-win-x64
3: Edit Windows executable
4: Make working directory
5: Copy included files to C:\Users\User\AppData\Local\Temp\d-11806-6336-7fj1i6.kkjkvgqfr
6: Compress application
7: Combine executable at dist\helloworld-win-x64\nw.exe
8: Rename application to helloworld.exe
9: Zip to dist\
10: Clean up dist\helloworld-win-x64

LSE@PC7 MINGW64 /t/articles/desktop-apps/nwjs/app-nwjs
$ npm start
source code here NW.js    //  <<<  you can find with Node.js the screenshot’s info here <<<






























Note – Cordova Hybrid Mobile Platform

Get binary Desktop/Mobile App using Cordova from web app



Leonidas Savvides
Web/Mobile/Desktop Developer
Twitter @lwdlse

Leonidas is a Freelance Full Stack Web Developer and Hybrid Mobile/Desktop App Developer. He likes involved in new trends like ES6/ES7/ES8, Electron/NW.js and Cordova platforms, PHP 7 and Frameworks like jQuery Mobile, Ionic 2, Angular, React or CodeIgniter/CakePHP etc. He rarely finds free time, and almost always is programming or practicing/reading/watching/learning new technologies, in programming using Web Technologies.


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