Cross platform auto-updater for electron apps
JavaScript HTML CSS
Latest commit 2ba451e Sep 6, 2016 @justinmchase justinmchase committed on GitHub Merge pull request #63 from arvsr1988/master
marking the note about maintenance mode in bold. I almost missed it.


Cross platform auto-updater for electron apps

Build Status


This project is in maintainance only mode. It is recommended that you use the electron-packager and electron-builder projects to generate complete installable versions of your applications and use either the OS specific stores or some other mechanism for distributing your installers.


There are three main packages that make up the electron-updater.

$ npm install electron-updater --save
$ npm install electron-plugins --save
$ npm install electron-updater-tools -g

NOTE: Requires electron version >=0.33.3.

The electron-updater package itself runs in your app's main process and does the actual updating. The electron-plugins project specifically loads the plugins downloaded by the updater in the render process. The third project, electron-updater-tools contains various scripts useful for building native electron addons as well as linking plugins during development time.


Integrate the electron-updater into your electron main process. Below is a simplified example of the Electron Quick Start code with the electron-updater mixed in.

Example main.js

var app = require('app'),
    BrowserWindow = require('browser-window'),
    updater = require('electron-updater')

var mainWindow = null

app.on('ready', function() {
    updater.on('ready', function () {
        mainWindow = new BrowserWindow({width: 800, height: 600})
        mainWindow.loadURL('file://' + __dirname + '/index.html')
        mainWindow.on('closed', function() {
            mainWindow = null;
    updater.on('updateRequired', function () {        
    updater.on('updateAvailable', function () {

Example index.js (running in render process)

var plugins = require('electron-plugins'),
  electron = require('electron'),
    ipc = electron.ipcRenderer

document.addEventListener('DOMContentLoaded', function () {
    var context = { document: document }
    plugins.load(context, function (err, loaded) {
        if(err) return console.error(err)
        console.log('Plugins loaded successfully.')

ipc.on('update-available', function () {
    console.log('there is an update available for download')

Error handling

By default errors are logged to both the console and a file. The default log file location is obtained by getting the AppDirectory.userData() folder: {userData}/logs/updater.log. Additionally you can replace the default logger or simply handle errors manually with the below optional API's:

updater.on('error', function (err) {
  // todo: manually handle errors here in addition to default logger behavior...

// The logger signature is essentially the same as the console.
var customLogger = {
  log: console.log,
  error: console.error,
  warn: console.warn,
  debug: console.debug

Publishing Updates

There are two kinds of updates you can publish:

  • The Application itself
  • Plugins

Both kinds of updatable packages are distributed through npm. This means that publishing updates to your application and plugins are essentially done like this:

$ npm pack
$ npm pub

The application will periodically check npm for updates to any packages and update them when it can.

Hosting your own npm server

If you are developing a commercial application, or just want to control distribution yourself, you should host your own packages on your own npm server.

Add a path to your registry in the applications package.json:

  "registry": "",

To tell npm to use this registry also, create a .npmrc file in your application root directory containing:


Fortunately, hosting your own npm server is very easy to do with sinopia.

$ npm install sinopia -g
$ sinopia

To run sinopia as a service, you can use forever.

$ npm install forever -g
$ forever start sinopia


Plugins are different than normal dependencies. To establish a link to a plugin, add a plugins entry into your applications package.json:

  "dependencies": {
    # ...
  "plugins": {
    "electron-updater-example-plugin": "~0.1.0"

When your application runs it will download and install these plugins into your users AppDirectory.userData() folder. The main benefits of plugins is:

  • Gauranteed user directory, does not require elevation to update.
  • Supports side-by-side installation, so they can be updated while the app is running.
  • Application can be refreshed instead of restarted to apply updates.
  • Load arbitrary plugins using electron-plugins, instead of having fixed dependencies only.

In the userData folder there is also a .current file created, which is used to maintain the list of currently installed plugins. You can add items to that file to install non-default plugins.

Distributing binaries

Until there is better documentation on this, see these issues for answers:


See the electron-builder project for creating installers for various platforms.