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Native Applications

Native Applications are containerized web applications that run on Edge. They provide a frontend web user interface, with backends that can perform long running computational tasks. Native Applications can be run on a variety of Compute Profiles that feature a wide array of memory, CPU, and GPU capabilities.

When a user launches a Native Application, Edge will create and host an individual instance for that user. Edge Compute Profiles can be assigned more computational resources than a traditional desktop application. Users are free to interact with the Native Application while long running compute tasks run on Edge in the background, without tying up local desktop resources.

Native Applications also have access to Edge resources, such as data stored in Edge. They can perform tasks on files without having to transfer them to a user's local system. In addition, they benefit from Edge's built-in Authentication workflow.

Compute Profiles

A Compute Profile in Edge is a set of computational resources (CPU, GPU, memory) that will be used by a Edge Native app. A profile essentially provides the equivalent of a dedicated virtual machine.
Internally, the profile is used to construct a Kubernetes "pod" to run the app with at least the requested resources. Having a standard set of profiles allows fast re-use of the underlying virtual machine infrastructure; when one application exits, another app needing similar resources can run immediately.

Application instances can be started with a recommended profile, or one may be selected by a user by opening the Application tile's start menu and selecting a Compute Profile:

Application start menu

Compute profiles

During application registration, you can optionally select a "recommended" profile from a number of predefined compute profiles:

Profile NameDisplay NameCPUsGPUsMemory (Gb)
edge.xlargeextra large4013
edge.gpu.xlargeextra large4113

Authoring a Native Application

The Edge Native App Example provides a convenient template for developing Native Applications. It consists of a Flask backend, React frontend client and CI tools. Authoring a Native Application typically involves the following tasks:

  • Create a Native Application using the Edge Native App Example as a template
  • Develop and test the Native Application locally
  • Build a Docker image and publish it
  • Register the application on Edge

The example application CI tools are ideal for performing these tasks:

  • python -m ci watch backend runs the application in a local development mode with live reload
  • python -m ci watch frontend compiles the React frontend and provides live reload
  • python -m ci build will create a local Docker image
  • python -m ci start launches a local Jupyter instance for testing
  • python -m ci publish publishes the Docker image to an image repository for deployment on Edge

Native Application Architecture

Native Applications typically consist of a backend API and a frontend client. The backend is also responsible for serving the frontend files for a browser to render the frontend. When a user launches an instance of the application Edge will provide routing to the backend through Edge's domain

The Edge Native App Example performs face detection image processing on any images that are submitted via drag and drop. Native Applications should perform long running compute tasks in a non-blocking fashion using subprocesses.

Native Application Requirements

There are several requirements for the application to provide long running background computation and to work with Edge's Authentication system and routing. We will use the Edge Native App Example as a reference for how these requirements can be implemented. This example application uses Flask as a backend and React as a frontend.

Environment Variables

Edge provides several environment variables to Native Application instances. These environment variables are required for configuring application routing and integrating with Edge's authentication system.

Automatic Authentication

Edge handles all of the details of logging a user in. The Native Application only needs to define decorators for checking a user's login state with Edge and define an endpoint for handling Edge's authentication callback. For more details, see the in the Native Application Example GitHub Repository.

Activity Tracking

Edge automatically terminates Native Application instances that are idle. The application backend should periodically report activity to Edge by performing a POST operation. In the example application, this is done using a track_activity decorator.

Application Routing

Edge creates a unique path for each user's Native Application instances. This path is provided to the Native Application instance via environment variables, and a user will be redirected to this path on Edge's web domain. For details of how to configure routing, see the README in the Native Application Example GitHub Repository.

Publishing a Native Application

Native Applications can be published by pushing the application's Docker image to a Docker image repository and registering the application on Edge. It is recommended that be used as a Docker image repository host. To publish a Native Application, you will need the following:

  • A provisioned Docker image repository, such as a repository on
  • A deployment username and password for the Docker image repository
  • A built container that has been pushed to the Docker image repository

The instructions for Publishing an Application are designed for publishing a Native Application. When registering the AppVersion, you must specify that the version type is AppKindEnum.Native and provide the address of the Docker image repository. In addition, you must register a ServerInfo object with the Application that provides the registry domain, username and password for pulling the Docker image.

Dashboard Applications

Dashboard Applications are a lightweight type of Native application. Like other Native Applications, they are containerized web applications that are launched as instances for each user, integrate with Edge authentication, and have access to Edge resources. Dashboards are hosted on a smaller Dashboard Compute Profile that is designed to remain continuously running once launched. They are well suited for serving dynamic metrics displays and plots, as well as performing low-latency, low-compute tasks.

Authoring Dashboard Applications

The Edge Dashboard App Example provides a convenient template for developing Dashboard Applications. It consists of a Flask backend, React frontend client with plotly.js and CI tools. The authoring process is very similar to Authoring a Native Application.

The major difference between Native and Dashboard Applications are that Dashboards should be published with the edge.dashboard Compute Profile as the recommended profile. This Compute Profile allocates 0.25 Gigabytes of memory and half of a CPU. The following code should be used during AppVersion registration:

version1 = AppVersion(
title="Dashboard App Demo, v1.0.0",
description="Demonstration of a Dashboard application",

The edge.dashboard profile is inexpensive. Instances launched with this profile can be kept continuously running for a user once launched. If a user has previously launched a Dashboard, they may access it again. Edge will skip the provisioning process and redirect the user to their previous instance.