Future of Atom (Github Codespaces)

Hello fellow Coders.
I use Atom for a few years now and was worried back then about the acquisition of Github from Microsoft.

And now I read about Github Codespaces, which is powered by Visual Studio Code.
See: https://github.blog/2020-05-06-new-from-satellite-2020-github-codespaces-github-discussions-securing-code-in-private-repositories-and-more/#codespaces

I’m a little concerned about this. Do you still support Atom? And do you support Atom in the future? If there are other opportunities of embedding a Editor or innovating would you also choose VS Code over Atom?

What is the future of Atom? Will you slowly move to VS Code and Atom will be on the support line?

Should we rather move to VS Code or a other editor? It would be nice to know, what your plan is and be able to anticipate how to move forward.


If you get response, it will likely be like this:

“Atom is open-source, it cannot die!”

That, of course, is true – but what does it mean? Somebody still develops Google’s failed Wave messenger, somebody still develops Gnutella. Both are irrelevant projects. There are always some enthusiasts to be found, no matter how tiny the niche. But that doesn’t compare to a project with a considerably large developer base behind it, paid or unpaid.

I’d rather have GitHub make an announcement about Atom than to leave it on a vague path of uncertainty. There are so many indications that Atom has a very low priority for GitHub – the decline of regular releases, no blog posts, the slow response on issues and PRs, no news at Satellite, the quite end of project Xray… Why pretend? Why not hand it over to somebody else and move on?

Personally, I’ve never used Atom for anything but to test the 77 packages written for it. Or to help out people on this forum. I do love its API, the competition is nowhere near it (hear that, Microsoft?) The interface is lovely (still there, Microsoft?) Both aren’t convincing enough for myself to use it, hell no! After years on Sublime Text, I’m now using Visual Studio Code. Despite its limited API, despite the ugly interface. It’s the powerful and unique features that made me change. In the meantime, Atom still lacks at its basics (look around on this forum).

I will be sad if Atom dies, but more for its potential it never really fulfilled (for myself). It’s probably time to move on!


From contributor activity on Atom org it is quite easy to see that the team actively working on Atom on behalf of Github has shrunk down significantly to a level where innovation is impossible, as a result new pull requests and issues do not get as much attention as mentioned above. Being understaffed means they are strictly in maintenance mode. There were also some struggles within the team before the acquisition, so I think it is lack of a strong team to prove its worth to Microsoft that eventually led us to this situation.

Codespaces being built on VS Code seems a logical choice however, there are already cloud versions of VS Code available, something that would be difficult to achieve using Atom right now.

Besides Codespaces, other demos at Satellite were chiefly presented on VS Code. Someone on the live stream admitted that they had started using VS Code only recently, I will leave it up to the reader to interpret what that meant.

My advice would be to start looking for and getting used to another editor. You can still use Atom today, but all of the signs are there that the project will be entirely abandoned or left for new interns to maintain.

In my opinion since VS Code user interface is more like a diluted version of Visual Studio (again, the only logical choice for Microsoft), it is nowhere as comfortable as Atom (that borrowed elements from TextMate/Sublime), which I definitely miss.

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This is an interesting thread. I tend to dip in and out of different tools and I do like the agility of using Atom. I have been running Atom and VSCode in Ubuntu and have experimented with using them in tandem. I explore use of “toolchains” (e.g. VSCode + Atom) rather than favouring one tool over another. In fact I can orchestrate the layout of VSCode and workflow using automation scripts in Atom so that I can toggle between workflows.

However, I do see signs of package developers concentrating now on VSCode. For example I am a fan of markdown-preview-enhanced but I see that the author is concentrating time on VSCode.

I guess I must now consider using VSCode as the principal editor but toggle back to Atom for other tasks.