Neutralino takes aim at Electron and NW.js

Experimental framework for building cross-platform apps with JavaScript promises a lightweight footprint and freedom from Node.js

Neutralino takes aim at Electron and NW.js
Aleksei Derin / Getty Images

Neutralino, an open source development framework for building cross-platform applications with JavaScript or TypeScript, is being positioned as a portable, lightweight platform that offers lower memory consumption and ease of use when compared to tools such as GitHub’s Electron and NW.js.

Built as a proof of concept for lightweight, Electron-like applications, Neutralino leverages JavaScript or TypeScript and companion technologies CSS and HTML to build apps that run on Windows, MacOS, and Linux. Unlike Electron and NW.js, which also support cross-platform development via JavaScript, Neutralino does not require the installation of Node.js and its dependencies.

Neutrino is still considered be in an experimental stage, with security improvements and perhaps refactoring capabilities anticipated. But the developers behind the open source project say it is nonetheless production-worthy.

Developers can download the portable Neutralino SDK. The Neutralino runtime is a lightweight server that listens to requests from the client SDK, which is a JavaScript library that communicates with the server via XMLHttpRequest. A separate thread is deployed for running a native window that holds the built-in browser component for rendering the applications. Client SDK functions and modules are used to make system calls asynchronously.

Other features of Neutralino include:

  • A lightweight footprint. An uncompressed app consumes roughly 5MB and a compressed app about 1MB.
  • Template-based development. Applications can be built via several pre-built templates using neu-CLI.
  • Native functions, with an API to access OS-level functions.
  • A single application package for all platforms.
  • No extra dependencies.
  • Applications can be debugged using a browser.

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