I tried out Atom Editor, the new text editor from GitHub.
I’m excited that GitHub is the kind of company that makes a new text editor. GitHub plays such a big part in my life as a programmer that it’s easy to forget that they’re basically irrelevant to almost all my friends and family. But maybe they won’t be forever.
Atom looks and feels uncannily like Sublime Text. I saw some speculation that GitHub had acquired Sublime Text and I kind of hope that’s true, although there’s been no confirmation or real indication that this is the case. It’s very flagrant. But, there are several ways in which it’s much better:
- It comes with a simple, native package manager
- textmate does too, I think, but it’s SO CONFUSING I’ve been trying to figure out how it works for years
- sublime requires a third party thing which is confusing to install, but otherwise awesome
- vim also requires a third party thing which is kind of confusing to install, but then, it’s vim, and everything is confusing
- it reliably auto-installs its command line utility for launching the editor without needing to do any fancy symlinking business unlike Sublime
- it’s written mostly in CoffeeScript and has many open source components to look at and maybe learn from
- has some (but less than I expected) native integration with Git and GitHub, for example:
- in the footer it will tell you how many lines were added and removed in this file since the last commit
- has a native package to open the current file on GitHub
For the above reasons, this is probably the text editor that I’ll recommend to people who are new to programming.
I wrote the above when I first got the beta a few weeks ago and expected to elaborate before posting. I haven’t used Atom very much since thenor even heard much about it. I went to a vim meetup and an emacs meetup last week. I use vim but I’m curious to learn what emacs is all about. One of the speakers at the vim meetup said he uses and practices vim because it makes him more productive. I don’t know if I buy that – I’ve seen people be amazingly productive with a bunch of tools. But I think it makes it more fun and enjoyable, which I guess can lead to productivity. I’m reminded of a meme you hear in the writing community: writing about writing isn’t the point, writing is.