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Workstation Electron – Technical Overview

Last Updated June 28, 2023

Brief Overview

What is Electron?

Electron is a framework for building desktop applications using JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. By embedding Chromium and Node.js into its binary, Electron allows to maintain one JavaScript codebase and create cross-platform apps that work on Windows, macOS, and Linux — no native development experience required.

Why is Workstation migrating to Electron?

Workstation is built using web-based technologies and served on the end-users desktops. Web-based technologies require a web browser to be rendered and operate as expected. 

Electron is the industry-leading white-labeled desktop browser that reached enterprise-grade quality and security compliance. Electron is the web-application container for leading products, such as Slack, Visual Studio Code, Twitch, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp, Skype, and many others.

WalkMe's goal is to provide the highest software quality, and migrating to a worldwide community-backed, industry-standard application container is one of the objectives to fulfill it.

Workstation as Electron benefits

Deployment & Maintenance

  • Electron is compatible out-of-the-box with most of the MDMs (Mobile Device Management).
  • Electron infrastructure supports video drivers, threads management, DPI cases, and other configurations that are compatible with Windows and macOS.
  • Auto-Update: There is no need for IT to redeploy an MSI / PKG whenever a new version of Workstation is released.
  • No customer-specific binaries (MSI & PKG) anymore. 

Reliability and Debugging

  • The Collect Support Info tool enables end users to reproduce the specific behavior, easily collect and report all necessary information to WalkMe instantly.
  • Using the Electron platform significantly reduces the amount of platform-specific code, which makes the application more reliable and easily maintainable. 
  • Electron receives the latest security updates and performance improvements following every Chrome release. The Workstation auto-update mechanism ships those updates automatically.

User Experience

  • The Electron version of Workstation can be launched from the Taskbar (Windows) / Menu Bar (Mac) and does not include an on screen Widget by default, avoiding UI overlapping and non-purpose opening.
  • The Electron version detaches Workstation as a sidebar and enables it to be opened aside from other applications - making WalkMe content and Enterprise Search available for in-depth tasks. 
  • Electron renders WY5YG content accurately because it uses the same rendering technology the WY5YG studio is using. 
  • The Electron version enables WalkMe to adopt a user-centric approach and eliminate inefficient mechanisms such as network polling and request retries.

Network Utilization in Electron-based Workstation

The Electron-based Workstation reduced the network bandwidth utilization dramatically due to a new application state management that follows user interactions with the app to trigger network requests and watch the network connectivity.

Initial download

Upon initial start, Workstation loads the following files:

  1. Main configuration file for essential environment information 1kB - 5kB
  2. WalkMe content data file (size depend on the amount of content) 24kB - xMB
  3. Application files (HTML, CSS, JS) 1.7MB

Passive requests after initial download

  1. Workstation checks if a new publish took place each time it went to background (user switched focus) in a time frame of 30 seconds by downloading the main configuration file (1kB - 5kB).
  2. If publish had happened, Workstation will redownload the WalkMe content data file (24kB - xMB)
  3. Workstation polls for new notifications (only if notifications are published) every 60 seconds two requests ~60kB
  4. Workstation loads new third-party content each time it turns foreground. Size depends on the amount of activated apps. Each request size is estimated as ~30kB.

Active requests after initial download
User engages with Workstation Menu

  1. ~400KB to evaluate segmentation conditions, get user state (recent search results, ob task completions from server storage, attributes from the identity provider)
  1. ~1kb per request to transmit analytic event data to WalkMe - this is variable and dependent on how many interactions with the menu occur during the engagement. 

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