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Ask HN: What Happened to GitHub's Atom?
59 points by jonny383 on Oct 3, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 46 comments
When Microsoft acquired GitHub, there was speculation (and fear on my behalf) that GitHub would end up axing Atom in favor of Visual Studio Code.

Taking a look at the commit activity for Atom on github.com [1] shows that since the end of June 2019, development has basically stopped completely. Does anyone have any insight as to what is happening here? Has GitHub abandoned Atom development?

Before you angrily shout that "Visual Studio Code" is better, or "just use VS code", please recall the current situation with Google Chrome mono-culture. Say what you will about Atom, but (especially in the last twelve months) the product had become very fast and in my opinion, provided a much better user experience that VS code.

[1] https://github.com/atom/atom/graphs/commit-activity

I went from Sublime Text to Atom, then back to Sublime, as Atom was painfully slow in large projects. After a short break from the tech world, I came back to find that VS Code had taken over, and I couldn't be happier. It "just works" and offers a great experience out of the box.

Out of curiosity, when did you leave and when did you return?

It turned out the Atom is garbage, basically. It was supposed to be a better version of Sublime Text, and open source, but never got close to feature or performance parity.

I stopped using it because it is a pain. I watched the multi-line regex issue in Atom for years, and no progress was made.

VS Code didn't have multi-line regex when it launched. It does now though.

I still use Atom and it works great for me. Just because someone isn't blasting code in it constantly doesn't mean it's dead (infact I usually prefer it to constant, chaotically high levels of change). How often does rsync change and does that prevent anyone from using it?

That said if I was going to switch to something I would probably go back to sublime (which I have a license for). Microsoft is dumping a lot of money on the coding space right now and I'm really not interested in finding out why the hard way.

I mean...vscode is MIT licensed.

Only if you grab it from github - https://code.visualstudio.com/License/

The biggest contributors stopped contributing around 2016. It seems like they achieved what they wanted and put it in maintenance mode.


The thing that drives me batty with both of these Electron editors is that it is apparently not possible to pop out a child window for one file without launching another whole instance.

As somebody that grew up with Windows when MDI was all the rage, it is weird that this doesn't work.

For all the people going with "just use vscode"

at least use VSCodium as it is a community-driven, freely-licensed binary distribution of Microsoft’s editor VSCode


I don’t really mind the telemetry vscode sends. There are only so many ways the developers of an application can get feedback on usage and performance patterns.

Metrics are important in any service or product you build as it allows you to better understand your user and adjust your product or roadmap.

I also remember the option to disable the telemetry has been added but it still reported the fact that you disabled it which I think they’d fix but cant find the github issue :/

Telemetry makes sense but I mind individual apps making any network connections and sending/receiving whatever is not essential to solving the actual task I use them for, let alone send data about me in a black-box manner. There should be a centralized system service apps would pass telemetry to for it to send it further and all the data should be in human-readable format.

It's so sad that we are living in an age where you cannot trust any sort of telemetry in fear of having your data exploited.

I'd be curious to see the download numbers of Atom since VS Code's meteoric rise a few years ago. As an ex-atom user, I was initially hesitant to move over as I found VSCode "awkward", but many quality of life patches sold me on it and haven't been back

I'm sorry that everyone is telling you "just use VS code"!

I personally prefer Sublime as well, and I looked into VSCode, but the VSCode monoculture also means that VSCode has the best plugins. When it comes to graphical editors, Sublime's golang and Rust extensions are so bad.

I used to write most of my codes in Atom, but it was too slow when your project gets bigger. Then I shifted to VS Code on a colleague's suggestion.

I value a technically inferior alternative insofar as it provides an "out" from a corporate entity. Sadly, using Firefox doesn't really mitigate Google's grip on my data since I'm still searching via the big G. I don't see the point of Atom as it's also Microsoft-bound, identical to vscode in ethos, and as you point out, gets far fewer man-hours of development. I am an emacs user.

> Sadly, using Firefox doesn't really mitigate Google's grip on my data since I'm still searching via the big G

That's rather easy to fix.


Not a perfect solution but does allow some cake and eating it too.

I use FF, DDG, and Sublime. I do still use gmail and i have an android phone I've had for a couple of years (some moto something or another). I'm definitely considering how to extricate myself from google's grasp, but gmail is just massively technically superior to other solutions I've looked at. And Apple just rubs me the wrong way. I've never been a fan of their products, especially the way they price gouge.

And so it is that I have partially reduced my dependence on google... I hope to finish some day.

I wouln't say vs code is better (these are all personal tastes things), but it was already way more popular than atom long before ms bought github.


Github abandoned Atom before the the MS acquisition.

Atom was built to showcase electron, with no other goals in mind at the time.

If I recall correctly Atom was originally developed on top of node-webkit before they decided to fork and create Atom Shell based on Chromium. The catalyst that pushed Atom Shell to become the Electron project we know and love was Slack investing in getting it up to snuff to replace their existing desktop apps at the time.

Remember that vscode is an atom fork... afterwards MS put a lot more resources and seriousness into it though!

I never moved to Atom. Never understood the big hype about it. For people who moved, why did you?

It's free, Cross-Platform and a "normal" editor, so at work it enables to work with others on the same computer. When I tried VSCode, I found the UX a bit unusual and I think I run into bugs IIRC, but I might give it a try again.

(I think I would pay for Sublime if they'd open-source it with some premium package or so because it's much faster.)

I find it more comfortable than the alternatives. I only use command line tools, so what I need in an editor is just a way to type things into files, and Atom is just comfortable when doing that.

Just use a real text editor that doesn’t embed Google Chrome just to write code. There are tons of quality ones.

To be fair to VSCode it's the most slick and speedy electron app I've seen by miles. I forget often that its backed by it.

At some point, either before or after the acquisition, GitHub found out about emacs and realized they were wasting their time.

It sounds like a typical Microsoft strategy, they want to dominate markets and nowadays it’s by offering free services and products and sometimes buying up the competition.

It couldn't compete technically with vscode, just as firefox can't compete technically with chrome. Users will just follow what's better.

I honestly don't get why people use Atom or even VS code for that matter. Vim and emacs come shipped with many systems, have good plugins, and are waaaay faster; not to mention no telemetry!

Because they have a steep learning curve, were not designed with guis in mind and require extensive customization.

I'm a vim user for a lot of things, but there's some things that are just not as good. For example, auto-completion is definitely better in VS Code or Atom. Although, vim is improving in this respect with things like coc.nvim, they are still a _nightmare_ to setup.

Ever tried YouCompleteMe? I love it for Ruby, Python, JavaScript.

I've used YouCompleteMe extensively for a couple of years. The only language I thought it was nearly as good as these "full" web editors was TypeScript.

Vim key combinations are awful for many non-US keyboard layouts. Many combinations can't even be done (you can't hold down shift twice for examble)

a) You are free to rebind everything, b) In my experience when coding (most common use case for vim I think) most non-US keyboard layouts are miserable to use anyways..., c) Use what works for you!

GUI & extensions for the most part. VSCode is way faster than Atom & licensing allows it to be used in commercial settings unlike Sublime.

As a current emacs, former vim user, vscode is better. I use emacs as a hobby because I'm interested in it, not because it's more productive, because it's not.

VS code is a better editor than atom, just like Chrome is better browser than others (imho based on number of browser downloads). I don't know if it would make sense for the company to keep two competing(free) products. It would be great to see download statistics and see if Atom makes sense anymore for MS

Chrome is better than Firefox? You are joking, right?

I think you missed the full comment. I said in terms of downloads which is the primary factor for companies investing in them. This might be an unpopular opinion considering the negative votes on my comment, but numbers speak otherwise

Based on the number of downloads. Not a good metric but that explains how logic.

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