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Complete solution to package and deploy Electron apps

electron-builder npm version

Complete solution to build ready for distribution and “auto update” installers of your app for OS X, Windows and Linux.

electron-packager and appdmg are used under the hood.

Real project example — onshape-desktop-shell.

Two package.json structure

We strongly recommend to use two package.json files (it is not required, you can build project with any structure).

  1. For development

In the root of the project. Here you declare dependencies for your development environment and build scripts.

  1. For your application

In the app directory. Only this directory is distributed with real application.

Why the two package.json structure is ideal and how it solves a lot of issues (#39, #182, #230)?

  1. Native npm modules (those written in C, not JavaScript) need to be compiled, and here we have two different compilation targets for them. Those used in application need to be compiled against electron runtime, and all devDependencies need to be compiled against your locally installed node.js. Thanks to having two files this is trivial.
  2. When you package the app for distribution there is no need to add up to size of the app with your devDependencies. Here those are always not included (because reside outside the app directory).

Configuration

See options, but consider to follow simple guide outlined below at first.

For a production app you need to sign your application. It costs only $59 (and 2 weeks), see Where to buy code signing certificate.

In short

  1. Specify standard fields in the application package.jsonname, description, version and author (for Linux homepage and license are also required).

  2. Specify build field in the development package.json:

    "build": {
      "app-bundle-id": "your.id",
      "app-category-type": "your.app.category.type",
      "win": {
        "iconUrl": "(windows-only) https link to icon"
      }
    }
    

    See options. This object will be used as a source of electron-packager options. You can specify any other options here.

  3. Create directory build in the root of the project and put your background.png (OS X DMG background), icon.icns (OS X app icon) and icon.ico (Windows app icon).

Linux icon set will be generated automatically on the fly from the OS X icns file (or you can put them into the build/icons directory — filename must contains size (e.g. 32x32.png)).

  1. Add scripts to the development package.json:

    "scripts": {
      "postinstall": "install-app-deps",
      "pack": "build --target dir",
      "dist": "build"
    }
    

    And then you can run npm run dist (to package in a distributable format (e.g. dmg, windows installer, deb package)) or npm run pack.

  2. Install required system packages.

Please note — packaged into an asar archive by default.

Auto Update

electron-builder produces all required artifacts:

  • .dmg: OS X installer, required for OS X user to initial install.
  • -mac.zip: required for Squirrel.Mac.
  • .exe and -ia32.exe: Windows installer, required for Windows user to initial install. Please note — your app must handle Squirrel.Windows events. See real example.
  • .full-nupkg: required for Squirrel.Windows.
  • -amd64.deb and -i386.deb: Linux Debian package. Please note — by default the most effective xz compression format used.

For auto updating to work, you must implement and configure Electron’s autoUpdater module (example). You also need to deploy your releases to a server. Consider using Nuts (GitHub as a backend to store assets) or Electron Release Server. See the Publishing Artifacts section of the Wiki for information on configuring your CI environment for automatic deployment.

For windows consider only distributing 64-bit versions.

Build Version Management

CFBundleVersion (OS X) and FileVersion (Windows) will be set automatically to version.build_number on CI server (Travis, AppVeyor and CircleCI supported).

CLI Usage

Execute node_modules/.bin/build --help to get actual CLI usage guide. In most cases you should not explicitly pass flags, so, we don’t want to promote it here (npm lifecycle is supported and script name is taken in account). Want more — please file issue.

Programmatic Usage

See node_modules/electron-builder/out/electron-builder.d.ts. Typings is supported.

"use strict"

const builder = require("electron-builder")

// Promise is returned
builder.build({
  platform: [builder.Platform.OSX],
  "//": "platform, arch and other properties, see PackagerOptions in the node_modules/electron-builder/out/electron-builder.d.ts",
  devMetadata: {
    "//": "build and other properties, see https://goo.gl/5jVxoO"
  }
})
  .then(() => {
    // handle result
  })
  .catch((error) => {
    // handle error
  })

Further Reading

See the Wiki for more documentation.

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