An AppJS Bootstrap Desktop Application for OS X
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OS X AppJs Bootstrap


This is a boilerplate AppJS desktop application for OS X using Express, Twitter Bootstrap, and Font Awesome. Please keep in mind that this is a little subject to being dated with regard to keeping up with the latest versions of Express, Twitter Bootstrap, and Font Awesome...But that doesn't mean you couldn't update them yourself after cloning this and it also doesn't mean this doesn't serve as a good start for your project.

For more information about AppJs, see


You can clone this project and simply open your terminal and type in your terminal: ./ -open

That will bundle and launch the little default application for you, but you really won't see much. However, what you will be looking at is actually quite a robust application. Just about anything you can do with Node.js you'll be able to do here. You will be running the express framework listening on port 51686. Of course this can be changed along with many other things.

Next Steps

You'll want to go into the src directory and start building your application. Checkout the app.js file first. In there you will see options to change file menus in your application along with the default port your app will listen on (which you may want to change to avoid conflicts with other things) and more.

You can of course install any node module you like with npm just like normal. Just make sure you are running all that in the src directory. Everything goes in there.

You can change the default application icon by making your own .icns file and replacing src/app.icns Just a small note about the application icons...OS X will cache them. I tried to make the bundle script remove that cache best I could, but you may need to take other measures. Sorry.

Be sure to look at the help for the bundle script: ./ --help for more options. Alternatively, you can change the Info.plist file manually (or with XCode or something) after bundling the application if you prefer.

Misc. Notes

I included a .noSelect class in the default stylesheet (and in the .less file). You can apply this to elements you want to disable from being highlighted when selected. This is quite useful for text so when a user tries to click and drag to select, they won't be able to. There will be no blue (or whatever color your CSS made it) highlight color all over.

Don't want to build the application bundle to test things out? No problem, run this command: bin/node --harmony src/app

You may even want to run a build command from your IDE to execute that. For example, in Sublimie Text 2, I now simply press Command-B and up pops the application with all my recent changes. It even kills the old process first so I don't need to close the app before launching it again. The only thing I haven't perfected there was to bring the app to the foreground. I tried AppleScirpt via osascript but I couldn't get it to work. Anyway, I've included a "" script for you to use either from the command line or called by your IDE.


I wasn't totally satisified with AppJs out of the box. I felt that it didn't leave me with enough to get started building desktop applications with relative ease. Well, they would work, but would need to be launched from a command prompt or terminal. I saw the skeleton .app file for OS X bundles, but it took me a while to wrap my head around how they needed to be packaged. The shell script provided in the repository for AppJs simply didn't work - especially if you had spaces in your directory name. However, thanks to hard work from all of those folks it did lead me to figuring it out.

I didn't want to exactly fork their repo and submit back pull requests because I wanted to take things a slightly more dramatic direction. I wanted to include Twitter Bootstrap in my application skeleton and I also wanted a more robust (and OS X specific) bundle script.

In the future, it would be nice to expand upon this to include scripts that would automatically build distributable packages for Windows and Linux as well. For now, I'm just focusing on OS X.


AppJS is pretty cool. It works by using Chromium and a 32-bit (currently) version of node for OS X and providing a wrapper for it all. This all runs in --harmony mode and essentially you've got a web browser looking at your Node.js application without all the navigation controls, etc. You can still hit the F12 key to bring up the developer inspector though. Yes, that can be disabled too.

The application is 60mb+ in size, so it's not exactly the leanest...But also not the beefiest thing I've seen. Though it does come with that overhead before your application code and assets.