Atom vs Sublime and PHPStorm for Front End Development


I really want to make the switch to Atom full time. I am a Front End developer that mainly build sites using a CMS such as Craft or ExpressionEngine. Rarely do I Code in PHP but sometimes I may need it. I mainly work in HTML, TWIG, SCSS.

I have PHPStorm and it seems like overkill for my needs. I love the integrated terminal and linters.

Sublime is fast but seems very basic. Many plugins are no longer in development.

Is Atom a good choice or should I stick with PHPStorm or Sublime? Looks for some real advice from fellow devs. What you all using? Why you like one better than the other.


Asking here, you’re likely to get a lot of answers from people predisposed to prefer Atom. Like me: I’m a dabbler with small-scale projects across a number of languages and also prose. I’m always going to choose an open-source program over an equivalent proprietary program, and I like having tools that I can easily configure to serve different purposes. This was all true before I discovered Atom, and it was purely luck that I stumbled on to a perfect editor for me. Since I have some background in web sites, an editor rendered in HTML and CSS makes a lot of sense to me, and learning Atom has made my JavaScript a lot better. It’s so nice to have a program where, if I have a problem, I can fix it myself or I can use someone else’s fix. And that’s intentionally designed into the editor. If you don’t like the default find-and-replace, you can replace it with one that works differently.

Atom doesn’t have any ability to execute code that isn’t JavaScript, but the amount of utility packed into its Node.JS heart allows for just about any automation you want to perform, if it can be issued through command-line instructions. So people have made packages to interface with external compilers, interpreters, and linters. Atom doesn’t have any knowledge of FTP servers, but there are Node packages for most things.

I could compare programs by individual features, but that would be chasing after details when the whole picture is more informative. All code editors have the same basic set of features and they’re all at least decent at what they need to do. At the end of the day, every user has an ideal workflow and has to find those tools that best match the user’s internal sense of the perfect way to get things done. If something else matches your workflow better than Atom, then you should use that. But if you feel like you’d benefit from having an editor that you can customize down to the find and replace, if it would benefit you to have an editor that you can continue to sculpt and refine as your skill as a developer improves, then Atom should definitely be a contender.


Thanks so much for the feedback. I know it is hard to get an unbiased answer in here but I appreciate any feedback provided. I have used all the editors and IDEs out there and I do see the benefit to all of them. Atom is the one I am most interested in as I like the fact that the community is so active and the product has great potential.

Most people I ask immediately jump to recommending PHPStorm. While agree that is a fantastic product, I feel the development is slow and 80% of the features are not even used for my day to day operations. While I have a license for it, it just feels heavy to me. The intellesense and linters are great and that is one of the things I have not been able to get working well with Atom.

Sublime is also good and back in development. While they have a big user group, the quality of their plugins is the biggest issue as so many are abandoned.

VS Code is also good, but like anything Microsoft my faith in it remaining that way is not there. I am confident that product will be merged into a light version of Visual Studio at some point.


Support depends on your language, and some of these packages take a little bit of setting up. If you name specific packages, I might be able to help you.


The most important are intellesense/autocomplete for CSS class names, Linting with Stylelint, integrated Terminal


What packages have you tried out?


Integated Terminal: give Platformio Ide Terminal a try