RIP Atom Editor

I recently started using WakaTime to track how much time I spend coding. While I mainly did it because I’m just a dork who likes to see numbers — hence why I always look forward to seeing my year end stats from places like Goodreads and Apple Music — it’s also useful for me to track (roughly) how much time I spend on different projects, which is occasionally helpful for work depending on what I’m doing. It was WakaTime which sent me an email a little bit ago about the fact that the Atom Editor is being sunset, ostensibly because it’s one of their supported editors.

To be honest, it doesn’t come as too much of a surprise to me that Atom is being put out to pasture. Both it and VS Code technically fall under Microsoft’s umbrella with Microsoft’s purchase of GitHub in 2018. It doesn’t exactly make a ton of sense for them to want to put too many resources into keeping up with two very similar editors, especially when VS Code had eclipsed Atom in popularity even before the GitHub acquisition. With VS Code now even being baked into the web UI of GitHub, it’s more or less solidified itself as the “not quite an IDE, but better than a text editor” of choice for many developers.

I do find it slightly amusing that the GitHub blog post says:

It’s worth reflecting that Atom has served as the foundation for the Electron framework, which paved the way for the creation of thousands of apps, including Microsoft Visual Studio Code, Slack, and our very own GitHub Desktop.

While I frequently use Electron apps, including VS Code, Slack, and Discord, I don’t know too many people who are actually happy about that fact; I think most people would rather have actual native apps rather than running embedded instances of Chromium.

Even I have personally ended up settling on VS Code, though, at least for most of what I write for my job. While I still really enjoy Vim and use it for my personal projects, I find that I can’t navigate between a large number of open files elegantly enough with it when I’m working on something like a Django project. Since I do tend to edit code much faster with Vim, though, I just opted to install the Vim extension for VS Code. Likewise, it’s difficult for me to top VS Code’s Python extension, which offers up IntelliSense that is infinitely valuable to me as someone who is mostly writing Python at the moment while coming from a background of PowerShell and Groovy. I don’t need to take time to look up what parameters a particular method takes, for example, when IntelliSense will just tell me my options.

The one thing that I do greatly prefer when comparing Atom to VS Code is the default theme; Atom’s One Dark theme looks vastly better than the default VS Code theme. As is the case with everything else, though, I simply installed that theme for VS Code. I’ve actually come to like One Dark so much that I also installed it for Vim and Terminal.app.

I know a lot of people will probably be miffed about this decision simply because they don’t like Microsoft and don’t want to use an editor promoted by them — though you could have reached the point of thinking the same about Atom — but I’m not one for hating on absolutely everything they do. While I certainly don’t enjoy — or think very highly of — Windows as a client operating system, I’ve worked enough with GitHub and Office 365 to have at least some respect for both platforms. Similarly, Azure has quite a few neat offerings, and on the whole I like it more than AWS. Plus, I still remember what it was like working in a Microsoft-centric environment during the Ballmer days…

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