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Electron Internals: Usando Node como una librería

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This is the second post in an ongoing series explaining the internals of Electron. Echa un vistazo a la primera publicación sobre integración de bucles de eventos si aún no lo has hecho.

Most people use Node for server-side applications, but because of Node's rich API set and thriving community, it is also a great fit for an embedded library. This post explains how Node is used as a library in Electron.

Sistema de compilación

Tanto Node como Electron usan GYP como sus sistemas de compilación. If you want to embed Node inside your app, you have to use it as your build system too.

New to GYP? ¿Nuevo en GYP? Leer esta guía antes de continuar en esta publicación.

Node's flags

El nodo . yp archivo en el directorio de código fuente de Node describe cómo se construye el Node , junto con un montón de GYP variables que controlan qué partes de Node están habilitadas y si abrir ciertas configuraciones.

To change the build flags, you need to set the variables in the .gypi file of your project. The configure script in Node can generate some common configurations for you, for example running ./configure --shared will generate a config.gypi with variables instructing Node to be built as a shared library.

Electron does not use the configure script since it has its own build scripts. Las configuraciones para Node se definen en el archivo common.gypi en el directorio raíz del código fuente de Electron.

In Electron, Node is being linked as a shared library by setting the GYP variable node_shared to true, so Node's build type will be changed from executable to shared_library, and the source code containing the Node's main entry point will not be compiled.

Since Electron uses the V8 library shipped with Chromium, the V8 library included in Node's source code is not used. This is done by setting both node_use_v8_platform and node_use_bundled_v8 to false.

Shared library or static library

When linking with Node, there are two options: you can either build Node as a static library and include it in the final executable, or you can build it as a shared library and ship it alongside the final executable.

In Electron, Node was built as a static library for a long time. This made the build simple, enabled the best compiler optimizations, and allowed Electron to be distributed without an extra node.dll file.

Sin embargo, esto cambió después de que Chrome cambiara para usar BoringSSL. BoringSSL es una bifurcación de OpenSSL que elimina varias API no utilizadas y cambia muchas interfaces existentes. Because Node still uses OpenSSL, the compiler would generate numerous linking errors due to conflicting symbols if they were linked together.

Electron no pudo usar BoringSSL en Node, o usar OpenSSL en Chromium, así que la única opción era cambiar a construir Node como una biblioteca compartida, y ocultar los símbolos BoringSSL y OpenSSL en los componentes de cada uno.

This change brought Electron some positive side effects. Before this change, you could not rename the executable file of Electron on Windows if you used native modules because the name of the executable was hard coded in the import library. After Node was built as a shared library, this limitation was gone because all native modules were linked to node.dll, whose name didn't need to be changed.

Supporting native modules

Los módulos nativos en Node funcionan definiendo una función de entrada para la carga de Node, y luego buscando los símbolos de V8 y libuv desde Node. This is a bit troublesome for embedders because by default the symbols of V8 and libuv are hidden when building Node as a library and native modules will fail to load because they cannot find the symbols.

So in order to make native modules work, the V8 and libuv symbols were exposed in Electron. Para V8 esto se hace obligando a todos los símbolos en el archivo de configuración de Chromium a ser expuestos. Para libuv, se consigue estableciendo la definición BUILDING_UV_SHARED=1.

Starting Node in your app

After all the work of building and linking with Node, the final step is to run Node in your app.

Node doesn't provide many public APIs for embedding itself into other apps. Generalmente, puedes simplemente llamar a node::Start y node::Init para iniciar una nueva instancia de Node. However, if you are building a complex app based on Node, you have to use APIs like node::CreateEnvironment to precisely control every step.

In Electron, Node is started in two modes: the standalone mode that runs in the main process, which is similar to official Node binaries, and the embedded mode which inserts Node APIs into web pages. The details of this will be explained in a future post.