back to article Atom, GitHub's code editor based on web tech, goes open source

Code-sharing site GitHub has announced that Atom, its highly customizable code editor, has left beta and its full source code is now available to world+dog under the MIT open source license. Why another text editor? In an interview, GitHub developer Nathan Sobo told The Reg that he and the other developers wanted a powerful …


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  1. JDX Gold badge

    So it's a desktop/cmd-line application using HTML5/JS? Presumably they are also planning an actual web version... because that would actually be more useful to me?

    1. Tom 38

      So it's a desktop/cmd-line application using HTML5/JS?

      Yes - not sure on the HTML, but it uses CSS, so probably.

      Presumably they are also planning an actual web version... because that would actually be more useful to me?

      Does everyone usually plan to do what is useful to you? Wish I could be you.

      And no. This is a standalone application, not a web application. It's written in JS instead of C - that is as webby as it gets (actually it has a .io domain, webby+=1, and when you use the program it constantly sends analytics to google, webby+=100000).

  2. Michael H.F. Wilkinson


    "The real sell of Atom is the synthesis of a lot of different things that no one editor does well."

    Marches back to the Church of Emacs in a huff

  3. sabroni Silver badge

    html, css, javascript

    Wrapped up in a OS X only executable. Way to miss the point!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: html, css, javascript

      It's FOSS, make your own. GitHub clearly didn't have that requirement.

    2. SJG

      Re: html, css, javascript

      Ahem - the source is available, the OSX build is for your convenience.

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        Re: the source is available

        I know.

        The obvious point I was making was that these are all web technologies so should really run on any modern "standards compliant" browser. Where's the advantage is taking all these "run anywhere" components and bundling them into an OS X specific executable? How much extra effort went into bundling them that could have been spent delivering a genuine cross platform app?

    3. GBE

      Re: html, css, javascript

      html, css, javascript...

      What, no XML?

      How can it be any good if it doesn't use XML?

  4. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Uncompressed, the app occupies a svelt-like 217MB. I thought Eclipse was hefty and Eclipse is an IDE, this is just an editor.

    And once it's out of beta it's not free.

    1. SJG

      It's open-source and if it's any good it'll start appearing in the linux distributions soon and you can always build your own as per the instructions on the FAQ :

      What part of that is not free ?

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        When you first run it, it displays a welcome text file which goes...

        "You are one of the first people to use GitHub's new text editor! Here is what you need to know.

        1. Atom is free during the beta period."

        So something's going to be charged for somehow.

        1. Stretch

          They have a lot of VC to return and no real business model, so yeah. Seems likely.

        2. Andrew Wigglesworth

          The licence change is new.

          Github used to go on about how they were treading the line between "open source" and "non-open source", that the core would be non-free but "open source" etc and other nonsense in order to enforce a charge for the editor.

          They've changed their mind, I suspect that after coming under some serious fire from many quarters.

          It'll now be proper free software using an MIT style licence.

          Congratulations Github. You know it was the right thing to do.

      2. Tom 38

        How long before the fork that removes the google analytics from your text editor?

    2. joejack

      In memory, it takes up 130MB, plus two 30MB helpers. Compares nicely with Sublime's 220MB IMO. That's the tradeoff for integrating a ton of 3rd party frameworks I think. Expect this to bloat as more plugins become available.

    3. eulampios

      the app size

      Uncompressed, the app occupies a svelt-like 217MB

      Interestingly, my GNU Emacs install in total occupies about 175M ( I got both 23 and 24 versions installed now):

      me@lmde ~$ dpkg-query -f '${Installed-size}\t${Package}\n' -W '*emacs*' | awk '/^[0-9]+/{s+=$1;print $0}END{printf "------------------\n Total: %.2f\n",s/1024}'

      25 emacs

      3507 emacs-goodies-el

      13103 emacs23

      544 emacs23-bin-common

      58165 emacs23-common

      16871 emacs24

      531 emacs24-bin-common

      63091 emacs24-common

      4581 emacs24-common-non-dfsg

      135 emacsen-common

      14493 emacspeak

      533 maxima-emacs


      Total: 171.46M

      However, Emacs contains much more, it got a lot of features, most IDE's lack, plus it's more than just a text editor or another IDE, it's a self-sufficient operating system of some sort. ( Btw, where is the Emacs icon ?)

  5. joejack


    So, it's like Sublime. Except it's free and open source. And it's got web goo under the hood instead of python. And releases will happen more frequently (how long has ST3 been in beta?) Emacs and vim bindings are already there. I think this is going to be huge.

    @JDX, when I first heard of a "github editor" I thought it was going to be web-based as well. Seems like the time is right for something like that, and having it tightly integrated with the Github site (as an option for small tasks, of course) could make for a really interesting workflow.

  6. Notas Badoff

    It has bracket matching! Unlike 'brackets', the editor by Adobe.

    At least this editor has the minimal functionality you'd expect from *any* that would try to get your attention in this busy world.

    When there was a recent _splash_ in the tech world about 'brackets', an open! source! editor! from Adobe, I went and checked it out. Then I ended up asking in their mailing list how I could enable/find the bracket bouncing feature. Without any sort of embarrassment, the brackets people said they don't do brackets 'yet'. Along with apparently a barge-full of other features they don't do 'yet'.

    Don't even try to get people interested in software that isn't somehow *better* than average. You're wasting people's time and no one appreciates that when they have no spare time and were hoping from the PR that you would _save_ them time with your whizbango snazzola beaming-proud-papa software.

    Calling it 'beta' won't save your reputation. And calling it 'free' when it's costing me time I don't have ... I have something for you to indent about 13 tab stops!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't say I see any benefits to this project

    Why would anyone *use* an editor made with technologies and bloated dependencies that only a modern i7 (with a OS that uses a GUI) can handle using an absurdly high amount of ram, when editors made in C/C++ are available that can even be used on ancient hardwares.

    All I can see is another "I did it because I can" project with little to no thought put into it's actual usability and efficiencies.

    If we're on the subject of green computing. Using Atom will probably burn 100x more carbon than an equivalent in C++.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: when editors made in C/C++ are available that can even be used on ancient hardwares.

      If this used web technologies properly the answer to your "why would anyone use this" question would be "because it runs on any platform that has a modern browser on".

      As this comes bundled in an OS specific executable I'm forced to agree with you, a C/C++ implementation would've been more efficient. Not so easy to bolt in all the new js frameworks that a text editor so obviously needs though....

  8. Stretch

    OSX Only

    That's the death penalty right?

  9. El Andy

    "As Emacs and Vim have demonstrated over the past three decades, if you want to build a thriving, long-lasting community around a text editor..."

    .. you should probably get out more.

  10. asdf

    can't resist

    Just to piss gasoline on the fire the more I use Geany the less I am using everything else in the open source world at least (grr paid to use VS2xxx unfortunately for the day job). Geany and vi (for quick and dirty terminal editing) is all you ever need.

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