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Build a desktop app using HTML/CSS/JS & Electron

Last modified September 28th 2020 | GitHub Source Code [GitHub]

If you know how to build a website you can build desktop app’s with the Electron framework.

As an introduction to the framework we’ll create a simple desktop clock application.

Electron desktop clock app

Before getting started it’s recommended to have a current version of node.js installed.

Ok, first let’s create the folder/file structure required for this project:

electron-test/ ├─ package.json ├─ index.js ├─ index.html ├─ script.js ├─ style.css


This file Indicates which command to run when we start the application:

{ "name": "electron-test", "main": "index.js", "scripts": { "start": "electron ." } }
Code language: JSON / JSON with Comments (json)

Note: Don’t use "name": "electron" or the Electron installation will fail.

Install Electron

Open up a new terminal window in the project folder and then run the install:

npm install --save-dev electron

This downloads all the required node modules and adds the dev dependency to our package.json.


This file is used to create windows and handle system events.

For our clock app we’ll create a small (190×80) fixed size browser window:

const { app, BrowserWindow } = require("electron"); app.whenReady().then(createWindow); function createWindow() { const win = new BrowserWindow({ width: 190, height: 80, resizable: false, }); win.loadFile("index.html"); }
Code language: JavaScript (javascript)


Very basic HTML file that loads the CSS and JS for the the clock functionality:

<!DOCTYPE html> <html> <head> <meta charset="UTF-8" /> <title>Clock App</title> <link rel="stylesheet" href="style.css" /> </head> <body> <script src="script.js"></script> </body> </html>
Code language: HTML, XML (xml)


Fetch’s the current time and updates it each second (1000 milliseconds) in the index.html.

function getTime() { time = new Date().toLocaleTimeString(); document.body.innerHTML = time; } setInterval(getTime, 1000);
Code language: JavaScript (javascript)


Lastly the CSS to improve the appearance of our clock:

body { font-family: monospace; font-size: 32px; background-color: black; color: greenyellow; text-align: center; }
Code language: CSS (css)

The monospace font prevents the clocks position shifting when the numbers change.

Start the application

We can now start our application by running the following command:

npm start