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Webflow Desktop App: ETA, Workaround, and Alternative

May 2, 2024
5 min read time
Mac desktop with Webflow Desktop App open

Fun fact: A Webflow desktop app is the highest-voted Webflow feature request with 5,044 votes.

Why? Two reasons:

  1. For the digital nomads – work anywhere, offline, or somewhere with a poor internet connection

  2. Separation of work – have one dedicated window letting you focus on creating and not letting browser extensions get in the way.

In this article, I will share Webflow's position on a desktop app, a workaround, and an alternative.


Webstudio, a Webflow alternative, offers a desktop app with semi-offline mode

Webstudio vs Webflow

No Webflow desktop app anytime soon

Webflow responded to the feature request with the following:

Admin Response on Jan 19, 2021:

"Hi all - this is not something on our roadmap at this time due to some of the technical constraints that would place on our product.

In short, today’s browser-based version of Webflow is essentially a browser within a browser — which means our product can leverage the power of the browser to show you how designs function directly as you build. Furthermore, at present our updates are pushed live to all customers, and supporting an offline version would require a major shift to release based updates that would require new software downloads as the product evolves. Because this shift would require so much technical overhaul, this request is not prioritized over more pressing features/functionality that our customers have requested elsewhere, including this wishlist."

In summary, don't expect a Webflow desktop app anytime soon due to technical limitations in the current infrastructure and higher priorities for the platform.

Webflow desktop app workaround

The workaround I'll share with you will only be satisfactory for one use case: wanting a separate environment to avoid distractions and tab switching while designing/building your websites.

The end result will provide an app icon and a dedicated window. This solution will not enable any offline mode.

I'll show you how to do this in Chrome (there are likely similar features in other browsers).

Gotcha: Authentication may be time-consuming when using password auto-fillers. I previously used the desktop app but stopped using it due to my Chrome Extensions not being readily available to handle 2FA.

Step 1: Open Webflow (optionally a specific site)

Start by going to whichever URL you want to be easily accessible. If you are in and out of Webflow projects, choose your dashboard, otherwise, choose a specific project.

Step 2: Create a shortcut

Menu for creating a shortcut in Chrome on Webflow

In Chrome, this is located in Menu > More Tools > Create Shortcut.

Click that, and you are prompted with a dialogue where you can name your app (either "Webflow" or "Webflow <Project Name>" will work best).

Important: select "Open as window" to ensure the "app" opens as a fullscreen window.

Naming shortcut and selecting open in new window

Step 3: Enjoy a dedicated window

Now, head over to your desktop apps, and you should see the Webflow icon with the name you gave it.

Webflow app showing in desktop app section

Open that, and you should see a fullscreen window like this:

Fullscreen Webflow shortcut looking like a dedicated app

Webstudio offers a desktop app with semi-offline mode

Webstudio is a Webflow-like builder with notable differences:

  • Provides a desktop app with native functionality that supports semi-offline mode

  • Reusable styles without classes

  • Open source

  • And much more you can see in the Webflow vs Webstudio comparison

Webstudio desktop app open on my mac

Jeremy from the Webstudio community says this about working with the Webstudio desktop app:

"I like encapsulating my work. I use the app on one screen and have my web tabs open on another. If I'm switching tabs, I get sidetracked. It's an excellent way for me to stay focused. I can also avoid the right-click browser plugins I have when I'm in the app."

Don't let a poor connection slow you down (offline editing)

Have a poor connection?

The Webstudio desktop app supports editing your website without an internet connection and works on Mac, Windows, and Linux.

This enables no loss of productivity if you are using slow internet.

Heads up: while you can work offline, the desktop app must stay open until you are back online for the log of changes to submit.

The future of real-time collaboration and offline-first mode

From the very start, we built Webstudio to allow for these features in the future.

We have an open issue to support real-time collaboration and offline-first mode, which go hand in hand.

These features are not found in many competing platforms, but when they are, they're typically in newer ones because they are highly complex to engineer. It takes building it right from the start to handle things like multiple users editing simultaneously, conflict resolution, and server architecture.

Under the hood

We use ToDesktop, a tool that simplifies creating Electron apps, making it easy to turn JavaScript applications into cross-platform apps with native features.

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