back to article GitHub drops Atom bomb: Open-source text editor mothballed by end of year

On December 15, Microsoft's GitHub plans to turn out the lights on Atom, its open-source text editor that has inspired and influenced widely used commercial apps, such as Microsoft Visual Studio Code, Slack, and GitHub Desktop. The social code biz said it's doing so to focus on cloud-based software. "While that goal of …


  1. Robert Grant Silver badge

    Atom founder talks about making Atom's spiritual successor, Zed:

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      From A to Z

      Atom's spiritual successor, Zed

    2. Julian Bradfield

      Zed was a line editor on the University of Cambridge IBM mainframe, in the 80s. It even acquired an approximation to a screen editor by means of a front end running on a BBC micro.

      It was a pretty good editor for the time...

    3. Beeblebrox

      M$ to kill Atom

      Fork off.

  2. oiseau Silver badge

    S. Sharwood in 2018


    This article was written by Simon Sharwood back in 2018.

    I then commented on another commentard's comment:


    “We want to wait for the dust to settle and better understand what Microsoft’s plans are for GitHub."

    I see ...

    To better understand what Microsoft’s plans are.

    Really now ...

    Is it possible that at this stage of the IT game (2018) you actually need to wait for anything to better understand Microshaft's plans?

    I believe this phrase applies, improve by using "ignore" in lieu of "don't know" :

    "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it."

    Edmund Burke (1729-1797)


    As you can see, four years later things seem to be right on track for MS.

    In the meantime, everyone else has their thumb up their ass.


    1. Alan Bourke

      Re: S. Sharwood in 2018

      Dry your eyes. Atom open source. It's not going anywhere. Also you forgot to put a '$' instead of the 's' in Microsoft like it's 2002.

    2. JDX Gold badge

      Re: S. Sharwood in 2018

      Except it's FOSS in the cloud for anyone to fork and maintain, not some closed source project they can remove.

      Seems the FOSS community likes FOSS projects where they don't have to actually have to contribute.

      1. Francis Boyle

        Or aren't,

        you know, controlled by MS.

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          Re: Or aren't, you know, controlled by MS.

          Then fork it.

  3. DomDF

    Embrace, Extend, Drag behind the bins and strangle.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      GOD Works in Mysterious Ways for/at/with Microsoft

      Once you drag and drop services and applications and development into Cloud Territory, Embrace, Extend and Exploit Exponentially becomes the favourite default choice option of an Almighty Few with raised unauthorised privileged access to Principal Primary Atomic and Super Sub Atomic Programming Launch CodeXSSXXXX Secrets ..... Foundational Knowledge .

      A necessary progressive move not dissimilar to a quantum leap fraught with dangers that tempt and taunt evil intent and content. Take care and beware to not invite, by virtue of one’s own decidedly unpleasant activities, the undivided attention of the Guardians of Opened Perly Gates and Special Operational Force Personnel/Advanced IntelAIgents.

      * Global Operating Devices/Virtual Machinery

      1. Paul Herber Silver badge

        Re: GOD Works in Mysterious Ways for/at/with Microsoft

        'Perly Gates'

        No relation to Bill.

        1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

          Re: GOD Works in Mysterious Ways for/at/with Microsoft

          He was once, God, at Microsoft.

  4. bpfh

    VSCode is great but...

    Things like copying code without bringing the dark mode formatting with it and pasting just .... code, I still rely on Atom for that (on Mac due to the lack of notepad++...).

    Hope someone can fork it, it's a decent (if bloated - thanks electronjs) editor!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: VSCode is great but...

      Lately I've ended up using my preferred editor off to the side, relying on VSCode to notice when I update/save files and then VSCode will complain about any goofs. It's a cheap and easy way to get the best of both.

    2. emfiliane

      Re: VSCode is great but...

      Shift-Ctrl-V is the standard "paste as plain text"/"paste options" shortcut. Or just find that option in the menu, if you happen to be a diehard GUI person.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: VSCode is great but...

        It's supposed to be a farking code editor.

        Code has no formatting by definition.

        1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

          Re: VSCode is great but...

          Ahhhh, so you're a tab user then.

          OK, OK I'm going, there's space enough for bo.... *ducks to avoid thrown table, chairs and glasses. Grabs coat and runs whilst muttering 'at least decide if it's two or four spaces' *

        2. Joe W Silver badge

          Re: VSCode is great but...

          Why on Earth is there a fsck'ing "short"-cut with another fsck'ing additional key to do the simpler stuff? And why on Earth and in $(Deity)'s name are those shortcuts no longer shown in context menues (like in Word for Windows of old, or Excel, ca. 1995-ish)? Makes it really hard to figure those out, especially if some brain dead... a..... decides they are locale dependent, some of us work in different countries, in international environments, and this just plays havoc wiht muscle memory. (and don't get me started on translating Excel formula expressions...)

          I never want to copy any formatting between documents / instances / windows! Either I am working on code, which has no font formatting or markup or whatever, or I am working on a text document which has its own formatting, and thank you very much, I wnat the document to have a coherent layout (yeah, my company insists on using Word, so that's hit and miss - still: templates, I use them for a reason), and I do not want to take the formatting from another document / email / website / whatever and put it into the document, because I want the fomratting to be the same for all text.

          I'll.... grab my coat, sorry for the rant, but this has been bothering me for the last four years. Before that I was using LaTeX to write lengthy documents, and vim for writing code, and Linux did not copy any formatting acrioss documents / programs. Windows does, which sucks.

          1. matjaggard

            Re: VSCode is great but...

            I'm happy with taking the formatting by default but I agree that shortcuts need to be shown.

        3. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

          Re: VSCode is great but...

          Not a pythonista then.

    3. Tom Chiverton 1

      Re: VSCode is great but...

      All grist for Sublime's mill I reckon.

      Payed for it during lock down, not looked back

    4. WhoAmI?

      Re: VSCode is great but...

      Settings -> search for "copy "-> "Editor: Copy with syntax highlighting" -> off

  5. emfiliane

    Why would this matter?

    You make it sound like it will suddenly *shut off*, instead of existing as-is forever. It's already in the same state, it just hasn't been officially deemed over yet. This is the normal life-cycle of Open Source: It reaches a point where it's feature complete, and it no longer needs to be continually updated. In fact, most existing users tend to react negatively if too many innovations are introduced. It certainly doesn't need to be reskinned every time Windows is. I'm sure people (perhaps the current maintainers) will keep contributing minor security fixes if necessary.

    This isn't a cloud platform. You can't just *shut off* the Atom editor. It will just keep working as is until the platforms it runs on cease existing, by which time someone will have either forked it or replaced it.

    1. matjaggard

      Re: Why would this matter?

      It's frustrating for a number of reasons. Firstly the markdown translator is very useful but has some issues which are unlikely to get fixed. Secondly it won't get security updates which is bad because it's essentially a web browser.

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "According to GitHub, the project hasn't had significant feature development for several years, apart from maintenance and security updates"

    You say that like it's a bad thing.

    Vi (the real vi, not vim) has been in that state for decades, not years. It means nobody's going round breaking it.

    1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      That could be...

      A result of vi itself though since that would mean closing that one terminal you can't close to update it...

      (yes, I know its perfectly functional when you learn the arcane key combinations to be able edit and close but it irks me having to look up how to close it everytime because I can never which bloody key to press to allow it listen to furious mashing of the 'q' key)

      1. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

        Re: That could be...

        Which is why I point and laugh (when not ranting) at the 'Dark Cave' UI pattern. You're welcome to endure it if that's what you like but vi/vim/neovim apologists need to do some studying.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: That could be...

          Vi needs no apology. It is a tool to do a job very efficiently. No faffing with WIMP. As with any tool, you learn to use it so it becomes second nature and then the only criterion is how little effort, in this case keys pressed, goes into the tool's operation compared to what goes into the work. There was discussion above about short cuts which an experienced user relies on. The entire vi UI is of the same nature as those short cuts

          Over 35 years ago I was in a user organisation and we had one of the early Unix ports to different H/W - Z8000 The tape with vi on it hadn't been included but we had a different editor, (The Rand editor; whatever happened to that?) Experience with that saw me translated into the world of IT for the 2nd half of my career and into London

          First day at the new job with a more regular Unix system. No Rand editor available, use vi. That day I worked round a vague memory of what I'd read of vi, headed straight for Dillons after work and bought a book on it. I quickly got enough out of the book to get by and picked up other bits as I needed them. That book is still on my shelves somewhere and is as relevant to its subject as it was back then; so is what I learned from it and which has become second nature.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Veteran Vi user here

        > because I can never which bloody key to press to allow it listen to furious mashing of the 'q' key)

        You mean there's a way to exit without unplugging the computer?

      3. Tom 38

        Re: That could be...

        :nmap q :wq

        Although I wouldn't

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I never really liked vi much, but I was working a diverse server room with Linux, Solaris, Irix, HPUX, SCO, Tru64, NSUX, AIX, and a bunch of other random unix-like machines. vi was the only text editor that worked consistently on all of them, so I learned it and used it.

      1. Peter D


    3. Roland6 Silver badge

      Well given the basic editor functions haven't changed, the lack of "significant feature development" is to be expected.

      However, having recently looked at the MS SwiftKey website, I see significant feature includes such things as the ability to add your own wallpaper...

      This concept of "significant feature" goes a long way to explaining why MS have been doing what they have with Windows since they started developing Windows 8.

  7. VTAMguy


    Just as the gods watch the lives of mortals blink on and off, emacs watches such creatures as Atom flash to life and then almost instantaneously flash out of existence. There are many like this, and emacs barely notices them come and go, like waves on the shore.

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: Emacs

      ... is bloatware.

      (sorry, have one on me -->)

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Emacs

        Presumably, you fetched that beer from the fridge part of Emacs?

        From the wardrobe section --->

        1. LionelB Bronze badge

          Re: Emacs

          Not to forget the obligatory: Emacs is a great operating system - if only it had a decent text editor".

          Now let's talk about Vi...

      2. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

        Re: Emacs

        Prolly not, in comparison to all those Electron things. Import a whole web browser, just for a text editor?

        1. Handy Plough

          Re: Emacs

          It's the antithesis of the UNIX philosophy, in that id doesn't do one thing or does what it does well...

          1. Dreadedhill

            Re: Emacs

            Emacs is a Lisp interpreter with a pretty decent text editor. Who does this better?

        2. LionelB Bronze badge

          Re: Emacs

          "Import a whole web browser, just for a text editor?"

          Emacs: been there, done that.

    2. Tom 38

      Re: Emacs

      "Eight Megs And Constantly Swapping" sadly is no longer an insult, at least in the first part.

  8. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    Obligatory xkcd..

    Is obligatory...

  9. Mishak Silver badge

    I used to use it

    It was cross-platform, which made things easier for me as I work on Mac, Windows and Linux.

    However, I also work with some very large files (MB size xml), and the performance (especially regex searching) was unacceptable - though that was a few years ago now, and may well have been fixed.

    Was great for "regular" code editing though, and a decent alternative for non-Windows development.

    1. devin3782

      Re: I used to use it

      Netbeans works on all of those platforms, at this point I've been using it for a decade.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: I used to use it

      Yes, memory management is a problem in a lot of text editors. On MacOS I usually use TextMate for various kinds of text files not least because of the bundles, including tidy. But for large XML files I run tidy in the command line and use BBEdit.

      1. devin3782

        Re: I used to use it

        For really large files I tend to find that only EditPad Pro works without crashing runs well on wine too :) I've opened gigabyte text files with ease

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Extinguish" implies that it's going away. Atom is not going anywhere, it's just not going to be maintained by GitHub anymore. I could see that being a bit disappointing if Atom had been getting huge feature updates previously, but it hasn't been. Someone will make a fork that continues to provide minor updates as necessary and not much will change for Atom users (other than maybe the name).

  11. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    "... the potential recurring revenue, vendor lock-in, and information gathering enabled by cloud-based apps."

    Ooh, cynicism is alive and kicking. I believe the cloud licence model is for the custors benefit and nothing at all to do with draconian usage control and profit. What is in this glass ...?


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