This page defines some terminology that is commonly used in Electron development.
ASAR stands for Atom Shell Archive Format. An asar archive is a simple
tar-like format that concatenates files into a single file. Electron can read
arbitrary files from it without unpacking the whole file.
The ASAR format was created primarily to improve performance on Windows when
dependency tree from
Code signing is a process where an app developer digitally signs their code to ensure that it hasn't been tampered with after packaging. Both Windows and macOS implement their own version of code signing. As a desktop app developer, it's important that you sign your code if you plan on distributing it to the general public.
For more information, read the Code Signing tutorial.
Context isolation is a security measure in Electron that ensures that your
preload script cannot leak privileged Electron or Node.js APIs to the web
contents in your renderer process. With context isolation enabled, the
only way to expose APIs from your preload script is through the
For more information, read the Context Isolation tutorial.
The C Runtime Library (CRT) is the part of the C++ Standard Library that incorporates the ISO C99 standard library. The Visual C++ libraries that implement the CRT support native code development, and both mixed native and managed code, and pure managed code for .NET development.
An Apple Disk Image is a packaging format used by macOS. DMG files are commonly used for distributing application "installers".
Input Method Editor. A program that allows users to enter characters and symbols not found on their keyboard. For example, this allows users of Latin keyboards to input Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Indic characters.
IPC stands for inter-process communication. Electron uses IPC to send serialized JSON messages between the main and renderer processes.
The main process, commonly a file named
main.js, is the entry point to every
Electron app. It controls the life of the app, from open to close. It also
manages native elements such as the Menu, Menu Bar, Dock, Tray, etc. The
main process is responsible for creating each new renderer process in the app.
The full Node API is built in.
Every app's main process file is specified in the
main property in
package.json. This is how
electron . knows what file to execute at startup.
In Chromium, this process is referred to as the "browser process". It is renamed in Electron to avoid confusion with renderer processes.
Acronym for Apple's Mac App Store. For details on submitting your app to the MAS, see the Mac App Store Submission Guide.
An IPC system for communicating intra- or inter-process, and that's important because Chrome is keen on being able to split its work into separate processes or not, depending on memory pressures etc.
See also: IPC
On Windows, MSI packages are used by the Windows Installer (also known as Microsoft Installer) service to install and configure applications.
More information can be found in Microsoft's documentation.
Native Node modules are supported by Electron, but since Electron is very likely to use a different V8 version from the Node binary installed in your system, you have to manually specify the location of Electron’s headers when building native modules.
For more information, read the Native Node Modules tutorial.
Notarization is a macOS-specific process where a developer can send a code-signed app to Apple servers to get verified for malicious components through an automated service.
See also: code signing
OSR (offscreen rendering) can be used for loading heavy page in background and then displaying it after (it will be much faster). It allows you to render page without showing it on screen.
For more information, read the Offscreen Rendering tutorial.
Preload scripts contain code that executes in a renderer process before its web contents begin loading. These scripts run within the renderer context, but are granted more privileges by having access to Node.js APIs.
In Node.js and Electron, each running process has a
process object. This
object is a global that provides information about, and control over, the
current process. As a global, it is always available to applications without
The renderer process is a browser window in your app. Unlike the main process, there can be multiple of these and each is run in a separate process. They can also be hidden.
The sandbox is a security feature inherited from Chromium that restricts your renderer processes to a limited set of permissions.
For more information, read the Process Sandboxing tutorial.
See also: process
Squirrel is an open-source framework that enables Electron apps to update automatically as new versions are released. See the autoUpdater API for info about getting started with Squirrel.
This term originated in the Unix community, where "userland" or "userspace" referred to programs that run outside of the operating system kernel. More recently, the term has been popularized in the Node and npm community to distinguish between the features available in "Node core" versus packages published to the npm registry by the much larger "user" community.
Like Node, Electron is focused on having a small set of APIs that provide all the necessary primitives for developing multi-platform desktop applications. This design philosophy allows Electron to remain a flexible tool without being overly prescriptive about how it should be used. Userland enables users to create and share tools that provide additional functionality on top of what is available in "core".
The utility process is a child of the main process that allows running any untrusted services that cannot be run in the main process. Chromium uses this process to perform network I/O, audio/video processing, device inputs etc. In Electron, you can create this process using UtilityProcess API.
Electron builds V8 as part of Chromium and then points Node to that V8 when building it.
V8's version numbers always correspond to those of Google Chrome. Chrome 59 includes V8 5.9, Chrome 58 includes V8 5.8, etc.
webview tags are used to embed 'guest' content (such as external web pages) in
your Electron app. They are similar to
iframes, but differ in that each
webview runs in a separate process. It doesn't have the same
permissions as your web page and all interactions between your app and
embedded content will be asynchronous. This keeps your app safe from the