Help a Teacher out!


I am a high school Computer Science teacher and I would like to have my students use Atom as their IDE. When I introduce tools, I like to assign the students a “scavenger hunt” so they can get to know the tool.

Does anyone have one for Atom?
If not, what are the key features I should have the students look for? (I have been using Atom for so long, I am too close to it to decide)

Thanks for your anticipated help!

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You could have them look at Atom through the dev tools, where they would see that the construction of Atom is the same as a web page. You could have them look at the API and write a short script. You could have each of them write a snippet that expands into a comment block with their name and class number, which would also make it easier for you since you could ensure at the beginning of class that any code you get turned in has the student’s name on it and any other relevant frontmatter. The other features that I think are not necessarily intuitive to brand new users but are extremely useful and will make the difference between a capable user and a befuddled one include multiple cursors, the Command Palette, the Keybinding Resolver, and the ability to configure individual package settings.

One thing I’d show off in front of the whole class (assuming you have a projector) is the output in the dev tools console of the method atom.workspace.getActiveTextEditor(). Since it’s all in JavaScript, Atom is radically open-access about everything. This gives us users a lot of power, but also presents security vulnerabilities and the opportunity for novices to mess something up. I feel like a word or two on how easy it is to fiddle around with internals could be beneficial.

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If they’re completely new to Atom and code editors/IDEs in general, maybe just concentrate on basic features that beginners might not be familiar with? E.g.:

  • Snippets: ask them to figure out how to re-use bits of code that they’ll use often
  • Command palette: ask them to find another way to run commands rather than just using the application menu or the right-click context menus
  • Community packages: think about a package that you know they’ll need for the year and ask them to find and install it (e.g. find a package that lets you run a terminal in Atom so you don’t have to switch to your local command line program)
  • Custom styles: ask them to figure out how to increase the size of the text of the filename on file tabs

Just some ideas - would love to hear what you end up doing! :v: :school: