A few years ago while trying to figure out why I was running out of RAM, I stumbled upon chrome’s task manager. Gmail was using up 700MB of RAM and all I had open was the Inbox. No fancy search box or Compose, the Inbox was taking up 700MB of RAM to display lines of text in a Tabular format.
I’ve been a heavy user of Email clients and if you pick any of the native clients (Thunderbird, Outlook, Apple Mail) and open a bunch of searches and compose windows the memory usage will still stay below 100MB.
I used mIRC a few decades ago to connect to multiple chat servers, run my own bots, serve files over DCC and run scripts all while staying under 20MB of Ram.
Chrome is almost always present in my Macbook’s ‘Using significant energy’ tab.
On the other hand, I rarely if ever see native apps in the battery bar unless I’m doing something which should actually consume a lot of CPU cycles like running multiple synths in Ableton or Compiling.
When apps are built for mobile, battery usage is a major area to optimize on. But nobody even gives it a thought for web apps
Mobile apps run on 60fps, Native desktop apps run at 60fps, Games run ( or at least are designed to) run at 60fps. Instagram on chrome starts at 2–3 fps and usually hovers around 30fps.
My laptop which is supposed to be more powerful than my mobile phone is only able to churn out half the frame rate even though they are both running at the same resolution!
Web apps are not buttery smooth and can be jerky at times. Sure somebody can work really hard and optimize a website to run at 60fps at all times, but it needs a lot of effort. Mobile apps run at 60fps out of the box without much effort.
Mobile and native apps use the GPU a lot more efficiently. Since they have a lot more information about which controls are being used, they can recycle items a lot better and do a much better job at hardware acceleration via the GPU. Not to mention that you have access to raw graphics APIs in case you want to push UI performance even further.
It has no type safety, memory leaks are common and it’s slow due to its dynamic nature. While there have been many efforts to improve performance like V8s JIT, it still lags behind a lot of major languages. WASM seems promising, but it’s still has a long way to go.
And it’s laughable how weak the browser platform itself is. SQLite is available on raspberry pi, embeddable systems, mobile platforms and just about every other platform on the planet.
You can store data, run complex relational queries and do more with so less. But it is not available on the most widely used platform on the planet, the browser.
With the rise of electron apps, big and bulky web apps have started making their way onto the Desktop. There are some who are even trying to get the same apps on mobile via PWAs.
Flutter ,Xamarin and React Native seem to be promising alternatives. A lot of developers are already using them for cross platform mobile applications and these frameworks already have support for basic desktop rendering.
If they could make their desktop ports as good as their mobile ports, we might finally have one framework to rule them all. This should be a good alternative to Electron.
There's nothing for the web right now. But flutter is working on some experimental stuff with WebGL and wasm output. Skia is a nifty little engine and given that WebGL and wasm are meant for performance, I find this to be quite promising.