In June 2022, Microsoft announced that it would make the WebView2 runtime available to all Windows 10 devices running at least April 2018 updates.
The main reason is to make the benefits of the technology in web content development easily accessible to Windows 10 users. Currently, WebView2 technology helps to power many web applications, including Microsoft Office.
In this article, we will look at WebView2, how it compares to Electron, and how it affects web-based applications.
What Is WebView2?
The Microsoft Edge connection ensures that the runtime occupies a limited disk space under one product if they are of the same version. Doing this guarantees that the WebView installation has as little impact as possible on your PC.
How Does WebView2 Measure Up to Its Competition?
There are a few differences between WebView2 and its competitor, Electron JS, especially when comparing how they render their web content. On the surface, their rendition pattern is fairly similar. However, some key elements stand out.
1. Build Base
Both technologies are Chromium based. Although, WebView2 is more restricted to function with Microsoft Edge.
Electron enables a developer to create cross-platform applications that function on your desktop while hosting it as a web application. This technology acts as a communication medium between the application and the desktop.
WebView, on the other hand, is a technology that works as a part of your application to render web content.
This build reliance on either Chromium or Edge also influences the type of platforms the technologies can run on. In addition, Electron works well on Mac, Linux, and Windows, while the only platform for WebView2 is Windows.
2. Application Programming Interfaces
Electron has APIs for most application needs, like access to file systems and notifications. WebView2, however, does not provide APIs for its desktop applications.
3. Rendering Process
There is a slight variation in the way these technologies render their applications. The Electron process model is divided into the main and the renderer processes.
The primary process operates in a Node.js environment and serves as the entry point for individual applications. It then splits into different renderer processes that help render the application content.
Meanwhile, the WebView2 process model is usually a group comprising different runtime processes. Each runtime process has one browser, at least one renderer, and a couple of other helper processes.
These helper processes are usually utility services like visuals or audio services.
What This Means for Web-Based Applications
Introducing WebView2 to Windows 10 allows developers to harness the Edge browser’s capabilities fully. The technology also allows developers to create web content that the end users will appreciate, even though only developers can work directly with the runtime.
Because WebView2 was only available on Windows 11, working with the technology was challenging and expensive for developers with older consumer devices running Windows 10. Therefore, this delivery erases that stress and bridges the gap to enter the WebView2 ecosystem.
Doing this also allows developers and end users more access to the many benefits of the WebView2 runtime. Some of these benefits include exposure to the web world and other web development tools like libraries; and access to a complete set of native APIs that you can incorporate into your apps.
In addition, with WebView2, you can add and save different codes to a code base so that the codes are reusable across several platforms.
A Win for Windows 10 Developers
The delivery of the WebView2 runtime on Windows 10 has benefited a lot of developers. Consequently, we can conclude that this technology will serve its intended purposes based on two factors.
These factors are reduced use of disk space due to its incorporation with the edge browser; and that WebView2 gives native apps access to different Edge features.