Dev updates for Apple Silicon Macs: Node.js, Electron, VS Code, Docker

The biggest question that developers before upgrading to the new M1 Macs would be to find out if the apps and frameworks that they use, support Apple Silicon? Here is a quick update on the current situation with Electron, Node.js, VS Code, and Docker, and their support for M1 Macs.

Electron 11.0.0

Electron 11.0.0 is now available to developers with support for Apple Silicon M1 Macs. Starting with version 11, Electron will ship separate versions for Intel Macs and M1 Macs. Since a lot of popular third-party apps like VS Code and Slack use Electron framework in various shapes and forms, this gives support to developers to add support for the new Macs.

Node.js

Although Node.js works just fine thanks to Rosetta 2, work is in progress to compile it as a native M1 binary. Early adopters who have tried to recompile Node.js on Apple Silicon have reported performance improvements. Even running via Rosetta 2, its performance has been getting praises from developers. Check out an example below:

You can check the discussions for Node.js Apple Silicon development here.

VS Code for Apple Silicon Macs

VS Code is a popular IDE by Microsoft which is cross-platform. Although Rosetta has been able to run most x86 apps without issues, VS Code throws an error when launched. The company is currently working on supporting Apple Silicon Macs with VS Code, as a large number of its users are on Macs. Since Electron has been updated with Apple Silicon support, that might have been the piece of the puzzle that VS Code was dependant on.

In a tweet, the official Visual Studio Code account announced its experimental VS Code builds for Apple Silicon Macs:

To our Mac users 🍎 We’ve been working on bringing VS Code to devices powered by @Apple Silicon, and we’re targeting a release for the Insiders channel by the end of November 🔖

Experimental Mac/ARM64 builds 🧪 https://code.visualstudio.com/insiders/#osx

https://twitter.com/code/status/1326237772860981249?s=20

You can track the progress here.

Docker for Apple Silicon

For now, Docker is still working on support for M1 Macs. The company is working to support Apple’s new hypervisor framework for Apple Silicon, which requires sufficient testing and retooling to complete.

Building the right experience for our customers means getting quite a few things right before we push a release. Although Apple has released Rosetta 2 to help move applications over to the new M1 chips, this does not get us all the way with Docker Desktop. Under the hood of Docker Desktop, we run a virtual machine, to achieve this on Apple’s new hardware we need to move onto Apple’s new hypervisor framework. We also need to do all the plumbing that provides the core experience of Docker Desktop, allowing you to docker run from your terminal as you can today.

There is no indication of when this work will complete, but you can check the progress here.

Update: here’s an early look at Docker running on an Apple Silicon Mac. However, there is no public build available at the moment.

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